WELLS – Richard Folsom, a popular history teacher at Kennebunk High School, died Sunday night from injuries he sustained in a car accident. He was 59.

Mr. Folsom taught history at Kennebunk High for more than 25 years and was the adviser for the school’s mock trial team.

Susan Cressey, an English teacher, said Mr. Folsom was a dedicated teacher who had high expectations for his students and brought out the best in them.

“He loved history. He made the subject come alive for them,” she said. “This is such a tragedy for our community, not only for the students, but for graduates as well.”

Beth Keezer, a computer technology teacher at the school, said Mr. Folsom encouraged his students in their studies and their personal lives.

“He inspired his students to love history,” Keezer said. “He played a major role in many students’ lives. He was an unsung hero.”

One of those students was Sage MacLean of Kennebunk, who graduated in 2000. She said he was like a father to her. She said Mr. Folsom attended all of her sports games and extracurricular activities, and they never lost touch over the years.

“He was my loudest cheerleader,” MacLean said Monday. “The community and the school have lost a really great person. He touched so many lives in a very personal way.”

Another student, Heather Philbrick, who graduated in June, said he inspired her to go to law school after college.

“He told me it would be scary, but kept pushing me and made me believe that I could do it,” she said. “He wasn’t just a teacher, he was a mentor for everyone.”

At the end of each school year, Mr. Folsom would pack his truck, along with his dog, and drive to Moosehead Lake, where he spent the summer. There, he wrote each of his students a letter, highlighting their achievements in his class.

Mr. Folsom had a passion for photography and attended Kennebunk High School games to take pictures of student athletes. At the end of each season, he produced a slide show for the team’s awards banquet.

Pete Dawson, principal of Kennebunk High, remembered Mr. Folsom on Monday as a beloved teacher who affectionately called many students by their last names.

“Rick had kind of a gruff sense of humor that students responded well to,” he said. “It was a daily occurrence to see students sitting in his classroom, just talking to him or getting extra help. His loss will be felt for a long time.”

News of the accident spread Monday on Facebook, where a student created a page in his honor. As of 5:15 p.m., 396 people “liked” the page.

One post, from Alex Dickinson, said, “You impacted my life in such a positive way, and I thank you for that. What a wonderful man, friend, and inspiration to us all. I miss you dearly. Rest peacefully, we love you.”

Kendra Paige wrote, “Rest in Peace Mr. Folsom. This man is one of the reasons I am going to college for history. … I’ll miss you Folsom. You and your goofy ways. You touched the hearts of a lot of students, and we will never forget you.”

 

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at: [email protected]