NAPLES — Hundreds of mourners gathered Sunday in a meadow at the Holt Pond Preserve to remember Adam Perron, a popular science teacher, environmentalist and young father from Harrison who died in a car crash last week.

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Adam Perron

Family members and friends lined up to talk about the impact that Perron had on the many communities in which he lived and worked, as the crowd cried, laughed and sang along to his music.

He was known for his work with the Lakes Environmental Association of Bridgton, where he served as education director and headed efforts to remove invasive milfoil from the Songo River, and as a science teacher for the past year at Lake Region Middle School in Naples.

“If you saw Adam in action, he was a real teacher, the real deal,” said fellow teacher Chris Small.

One day, Small said, he glanced into Perron’s classroom and saw Perron trying to catch 20 tennis balls the students had just tossed at him.

“And the kids were so engaged. It was an honor to know him,” Small said.

Perron also was remembered as a respected musician who wrote music and played with friends, as a member of the Harrison Planning Board, and as a father and family member.

Many said Perron’s death had hit them hard, and that he would have a lasting impact on their lives.

“Learning was his passion to a point he wasn’t able to control. He was my own personal encyclopedia,” said his wife, Elizabeth “Beth” Perron. “I remember walking with him in this very field and learned about the intricacies of lichen.”

Elizabeth Perron, right, wife of crash victim Adam Perron, addresses the crowd Sunday at a memorial service for her husband at the Holt Pond Preserve in Naples. "Learning was his passion to a point he wasn't able to control. He was my own personal encyclopedia," she said. Joel Page/Staff Photographer

Elizabeth Perron, right, wife of crash victim Adam Perron, addresses the crowd Sunday at a memorial service for her husband at the Holt Pond Preserve in Naples. “Learning was his passion to a point he wasn’t able to control. He was my own personal encyclopedia,” she said. Joel Page/Staff Photographer

Perron, 29, was killed Wednesday when his car was struck by a box truck on Route 302 in Casco. The accident remains under investigation.

About 400 people gathered at the preserve Sunday afternoon next to a tent decorated with dozens of photos of Perron and his family, including his daughter, 19-month-old Abigail. Backgammon boards, which Perron collected, were set up, and a group of his musician friends played some of his original music.

Before they played a medley of Perron’s songs, they told the crowd that Perron had been the driving force of their group.

“It was easy to follow along, but now that he is not here it might be a bit of a rocky road, for more than one reason,” said Colin Holme.

His friends remembered Perron as a magical person who made everyone feel at ease.

Zach von Hasseln, a longtime friend, called Perron a “super-luminous explanation of the universe.”

“There is no day in Adam’s life we do not honor today,” von Hasseln said.

Adam Perron's parents, Dianne Parker and Jeff Perron, listens to speakers Sunday at a memorial service for their son in Naples.

Adam Perron’s parents, Dianne Parker and Jeff Perron, listens to speakers Sunday at a memorial service for their son in Naples. Joel Page/Staff Photographer

Friend Rob Lateiner recalled Perron’s fine sense of humor. Perron asked him one time if he knew that Perron’s first name was a palindrome, a word or a phrase that reads the same forward and backward.

“He said, ‘Madam, I’m Adam.’ That is when I knew we would be friends,” Lateiner joked.

Friend Dan Lawson said Perron helped him through a difficult time in his life.

“I hit the friend jackpot. He was there for me. He made me realize I had nothing to feel sorry about,” Lawson said.

Childhood friend Daniel Bishop said he will forever be inspired by Perron and how he lived his life.

“So enjoy these woods he helped create. He would be excited we are all out in the sunshine,” Bishop said.