Timothy Burgdorf, who kept a positive outlook on life and could always see the good in people, died Saturday. He was 56.

Mr. Burgdorf was born in New York and came to Maine in 1978, when he was offered a job at the Governor Baxter School for the Deaf.

Mr. Burgdorf met his wife, Valori, during a basketball tournament in 1983, when he was the athletic director for the school. She was working at the Rhode Island School for the Deaf and traveled with the team to the tournament hosted in Maine.

The couple married a year later. They raised two sons, Taylor, 22, and Tanner, 19.

Mr. Burgdorf worked for 12 years at the Baxter school. The introduction of computers to the school in 1988 prompted him to make a career change.

His wife said he quickly realized that working with the students and computers was his passion, and something he wanted to pursue.

For the past 12 years, Mr. Burgdorf worked for the VTEC Training Center and was highly sought-after as a computer applications trainer.

“There were students who wouldn’t take another course unless he was teaching it,” his wife said.

“He made difficult classes fun,” said his brother Michael Burgdorf.

Mr. Burgdorf continued with his physical education background by coaching various youth sports. His wife said he coached their sons in soccer and basketball, and coached other children, because of the exhilaration he got from working with the teams.

“The experiences coaching are things you don’t really feel in your job,” she said. “That rush of feeling.”

Mr. Burgdorf was always willing to give people the benefit of the doubt, and was described as nonjudgmental.

At the Baxter school, Mr. Burgdorf coached soccer. In 1986, he asked the team if anyone was interested in stepping in to play goalie. Only one student volunteered, his wife said – a student with one hand.

“Who’s the only person in soccer that can touch the ball? The goalie,” she said, but that didn’t phase Mr. Burgdorf.

The school’s team won the New England Regional Tournament, and the student was named player of the year among deaf students for his work as the team’s goalie.

“That was the kind of guy he was,” his wife said of her husband.

That open-minded attitude extended into his family life. Mr. Burgdorf embraced anything his sons were interested in, and enjoyed time they were able to spend together.

Through his actions, Mr. Burgdorf taught his sons to accept people for who they are and expected them always to be considerate of others.

“He was just an amazing role model,” she said.

 

Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at: [email protected]