May 8, 2012

Lajeunesse succumbs to cancer

Guy Lajeunesse, a longtime football coach at Traip Academy and Marshwood, dies at age 51.

By Mike Lowe mlowe@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Guy Lajeunesse, whose success as a football coach at Traip Academy in Kittery and Marshwood High in South Berwick could never be measured in wins and losses, died early Friday morning at Hyder Hospice in Dover, N.H., after a year-long fight with brain cancer.

He was 51.

"It's just a very hard day," said Rich Buzzell, the athletic director at Marshwood and a former player under Lajeunesse at Traip. "We're going to do all we can to honor his memory. Guy would want us to be going 100 percent full bore forward, and that's what we're going to do.

"All I know is that he had a pretty big hand in making a lot of boys around here and in the Kittery area into men."

Despite the rain Friday, Marshwood High's boys' lacrosse team played its home game with Biddeford. A moment of silence was held before the game for Lajeunesse. The Hawks will wear stickers with the letters "GL" on the back of their helmets.

Lajeunesse, who was diagnosed with cancer last June, is survived by his wife, June, and sons Kyle and Peter.

Funeral arrangements have not been finalized.

His passing was felt throughout the state. Lajeunesse was also an accomplished basketball official and baseball umpire.

"We knew this day was coming," said John Suttie, a former Noble football coach and a baseball umpire. "But it doesn't make it easier. He was just a great friend and a wonderful person. He truly had a big impact on my life."

Suttie broke down as he spoke about Lajeunesse's kindness in Suttie's early years at Noble.

"I was very young when I got the job at Noble and he was always very, very nice to me when everybody always wasn't," said Suttie. "He was always willing to help me. He was a mentor when I had questions. That meant a lot to me. Even though we were rivals, he was always kind to me."

Lajeunesse later recruited Suttie to become a baseball umpire, and the two worked many games together. "He was one of the people who taught me how to umpire baseball games," said Suttie. "He always gave of his time. He was like a big brother to me."

Lajeunesse grew up in Biddeford and played football under the late Mike Landry. Don Wilson, the former Biddeford athletic director and assistant football coach, remembered Lajeunesse making the game-winning 2-point conversion pass to beat Thornton Academy in 1977.

"He was a great kid, a good family man," said Wilson.

He became one of the youngest head coaches in the state when he took the football position at Traip in 1984. He stayed with the Rangers until 1992 and was often credited with keeping the program alive.

He followed the legendary Rod Wotton at Marshwood, taking over one of the state's top football programs in 1993. He coached there for eight seasons, leading the Hawks to the Western Class A championship game in 1996. But he resigned in 2000 after consecutive 0-8 seasons, saying it was time for a change.

He has since served as an assistant at Noble, under Suttie, and Marshwood. He continued to coach and teach at Marshwood through this fall.

"It was amazing that he was able to do that," said Mike Zamarchi, the Marshwood boys' basketball coach. "He took some time off here and there, but he loved being around the kids and the competition."

"We're all deeply saddened here," said Marshwood Principal Paul Mehlhorn. "Guy was more than just a PE and health teacher and football coach. His impact went way beyond the walls of this school. Everywhere he went, in everything he did, he did it to the best of his ability and connected with people."

(Continued on page 2)

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