WINDHAM – He used his love and knowledge of horses to teach hundreds of people how to ride.

He also overcame personal adversity, outliving two wives and raising three children on his own.

Robert M. Levine, 81, of Pope Road in Windham died Saturday at Maine Medical Center in Portland following a lengthy illness.

“We had both been widowed twice before. And we both said we would never marry again,” said his third wife, Jeannie Gilman Winslow Levine.

Born in Detroit, Mich., Mr. Levine moved to Portland when he was 3 years old.

He attended Portland schools, graduating from Portland High School in 1947.

During high school, Mr. Levine worked at the Tomlinson Riding School in Westbrook. He started out working in the stables, and ended up becoming a riding instructor.

“That’s where he got his love for horses,” his wife said. “It grew on him.”

For a number of years, he was a riding instructor at Tomlinson as well as at Camp Walden in Denmark.

Mr. Levine met his first wife, Jane Winslow Levine, at Tomlinson. She died at the age of 37.

“Bob was left to raise three children, but he always made sure his family was taken care of,” his wife said.

He eventually married Barbara Adde Levine. They lived at Laneway Farms in Standish, where they raised horses for many years. His second wife died in her late 60s.

Mr. Levine sold advertising space in the Yellow Pages while raising and training horses.

He was awarded the top salesman award several times during his 32-year career with the telephone company.

“They liked his mannerisms, his calmness and his confidence,” his wife said.

Despite being promoted into management positions, Mr. Levine kept returning to his sales job.

“They used to say he kept leaving management to carry the bag,” his wife said. “He really enjoyed meeting people.”

In 1986, Mr. Levine retired to devote more time to raising horses. His show horse, King of Conowingo, was New England Five Gaited Champion for several years. He trained other championship horses and ponies.

He taught his three children to be successful horsemen, including his son David, who raises horses on his farm in Virginia.

Even in his retirement years, people would come up to Mr. Levine and remind him of the impact he had on their lives by teaching them to ride, his wife recalled.

“Everybody loved Bob when they met him. He had this boisterous laugh that you never forget,” she said.

Mrs. Levine met her husband in church. They were married July 12, 2003, at the North Windham Union Church, where they were introduced.

“I used to sit at one end of the pew and he at the other end. People started to take notice when we began looking at the hymn book together,” his wife said. “He had a wonderful smile and was so kind and generous.”

They spent their years together walking and camping, and visiting the Caribbean islands. They spent their winters at their home in St. Cloud, Fla.

After losing two spouses, neither Mr. Levine nor his wife had intended to marry a third time.

“It was just meant to be,” she said. “We got along great.”

In lieu of flowers, contributions in Mr. Levine’s memory can be made to the Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals.

“He loved animals — dogs, cats, you name it — but especially horses,” his wife said.

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]