TOPSHAM — Carroll “Sonny” Googins was a beloved music teacher at Brunswick High School and a sought-after pianist and music director in Portland’s theater community.

He also directed more than a dozen musicals at Portland Players and Portland Lyric Theater in South Portland.

“Music was in his blood,” said Ron Trell, his longtime domestic partner. “Every day of our 43 years together, there was music. Usually, it was him at the piano. It was beautiful, absolutely beautiful.”

Mr. Googins died Tuesday after a long battle against Alzheimer’s disease. He was 72.

Mr. Googins shared his passion for music with students at Brunswick High for 40 years, retiring in 2002. He taught music theory, music history, music fundamentals and choir, and students gravitated toward him, Trell said.

“He loved sharing his love of music with them,” Trell said. “He was always helping students after school.”

Outside the classroom, Mr. Googins was active in the Brunswick Music Theater, now called the Maine State Music Theater. He played the piano in the orchestra for more than 10 years.

That’s where he met Trell. Mr. Googins was a pianist in the theater’s production of “West Side Story.” Trell was hired to be an extra dancer in the production.

“When I walked into the theater, the first person I saw was Sonny leaning against the wall on a break,” Trell said.

The two started talking and quickly formed a bond. Trell recalled the day he made the decision to move to Maine to be with Mr. Googins.

On Dec. 27, 1968, they met at Trell’s apartment in New York City. The couple packed his possessions in a U-Haul and drove to Maine in a blizzard.

“I remember taking a left turn onto Maine Street (in Brunswick) and seeing 2 feet of snow on the ground. I was overjoyed. I couldn’t believe I was in Maine for good,” Trell recalled. “It was the beginning of our life together. People were shocked that I picked up and left the city, but somehow we knew it was right. Obviously, we were both correct.”

Trell said they shared a great life together. They were both active in the Brunswick Music Theater until 1977. Then they got involved in the Portland Players, Portland Lyric Theater and the Lewiston-Auburn Little Theater.

Mr. Googins was the pianist and music director for more than a dozen musicals. He worked alongside Trell, who was the choreographer. Trell said they were hired as a team.

“It was so easy to work with him,” Trell said. “We knew each other. We could read when something needed to be redone or worked on. We just knew.”

The couple also shared a passion for traveling and riding roller coasters. They bought their first motor home in 1986 and traveled across the country, riding roller coasters together.

They visited places like Hersheypark in Pennsylvania and Cedar Point in Ohio, known as the roller coaster capital of the world.

“We both love roller coasters. We had great times,” Trell said.

They also enjoyed spending time at Long Beach along Sebago Lake, where Mr. Googins enjoyed boating, swimming and water skiing.

He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in December 2005.

“To watch your loved one disintegrate like that is heart-wrenching,” Trell said. “I’m very sad and lonely, but very grateful that we had such a long relationship. I always hoped that one day we would be legally married. It would have been a nice way for him to leave, but it wasn’t meant to be. In the eyes of God, as (one) minister said, we were already married.”

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

[email protected]