It was 1974.

A small group of students at North Yarmouth Academy sat in a classroom waiting for their history teacher, Paul Flaherty, to arrive.

“We were watching the clock, recalled Lincoln Merrill, a 1975 graduate of NYA. “All of the sudden the door opens and we hear this clatter, clatter of something skittering across the floor. We realize it’s a hand grenade. Then, these two guys jumped into the room wearing double-breasted suits and formal hats with machine guns.”

This was Paul Flaherty’s way of introducing his students to the Mafia in American history.

Mr. Flaherty, a popular and dedicated teacher at North Yarmouth Academy, died on Friday. He was 68.

Mr. Flaherty, known by most people as “Bud,” joined NYA in 1967 as a history teacher. At the time, it was an all-boys boarding school. Outside the classroom, he served a stint as NYA’s director of transportation. He often drove the bus to pick up students before school. At one point, he coached NYA’s wrestling, football and track teams.

He was also a guidance counselor for many students.

Jay Robbins, an archivist for NYA, said on Wednesday that Mr. Flaherty was the institutional glue that held the school together.

“He was the one that put on the coveralls and changed the oil (on the bus),” Robbins said. “He would do absolutely anything asked of him. He wasn’t just a teacher, he was there to bring you along in every part of your life. … There are very few people, perhaps no one, who has made a bigger impact on students’ lives at NYA than Bud. If there was a pantheon of school gods, he would be up there on the chair in the middle.”

Mr. Flaherty taught history at NYA for 41 years. Merrill was one of his students. So were Merrill’s two daughters. He described him Wednesday as a funny and down-to-earth person who could relate to the average student. He brought history to life in the classroom, Merrill said. “He loved whipping kids into a frenzy and acting things out,” he said. “He was crazy — not crazy bad, but passionate, energized and excitable. He was always loud and paced around the room … He was really, really animated.”

Mr. Flaherty retired in May of 2008.

He was married to Marie Flaherty for 38 years and raised a daughter, Dorene Battles, of Brewster, N.Y.

Early in their marriage, the Flahertys lived at NYA in one of the residence halls with the students. Around 1980, the family moved to Durham.

Mr. Flaherty had a passion for reading and for building model cars and planes. In his later years, he collected guns.

Mr. Flaherty and his wife recently moved to New York to be closer to their daughter and two grandchildren. Soon after, he was diagnosed with oral and laryngeal cancer.

His daughter said living at NYA was one of the happiest times in Mr. Flaherty’s life.

“He was like a second father to many of those kids and he absolutely loved it,” Battles said.

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:

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