SACO – Matthew Tushin’s family, friends and colleagues struggled Thursday to understand how a man who touched so many lives could have his own life cut so short.

Mr. Tushin, a popular education technician at Kennebunkport Consolidated School, died unexpectedly Wednesday night. He was 41.

Mr. Tushin worked in the school’s developmental learning center for the past two years, working one-on-one with students with special needs.

School officials were notified Thursday morning that he had died. Principal David Crandall said he was an easygoing guy who made a difference in his students’ lives.

Crandall said a guidance counselor and a social worker were in every classroom Thursday morning when students were told of Mr. Tushin’s death.

“The staff here … we are all pretty much in shock,” Crandall said.

“I don’t know if we have any logical or rational thought at this point. It hits you right between the eyes that a young, healthy co-worker that you spend your days laughing and smiling with isn’t there anymore. It doesn’t feel real,” he said.

Mr. Tushin began his career in 1994, teaching at Line Elementary School and Shapleigh Memorial School in School Administrative District 57.

He taught at several schools in Regional School Unit 21, including Kennebunk Middle School, where he was an education technician. He taught physical education for a year at Kennebunk High School.

For a few years, he taught phys ed at the Breakwater School in Portland.

Mr. Tushin coached tennis at Kennebunk High School and boys’ basketball and baseball at the middle school. He was also a referee for high school soccer and lacrosse.

“He brought sports into kids’ lives and taught them how play and get along with each other,” said Christine Kellett, his former wife, who teaches first grade at Kennebunkport Consolidated School. “He loved kids. He loved having fun with them and teaching them about sports.”

The couple raised two children, Elyse Tushin, 12, and Jack Tushin, 9, of Kennebunkport. Mr. Tushin is also survived by Melinda Charest of Biddeford, his 18-year-old daughter from a previous relationship.

Mr. Tushin was remembered Thursday as a great father who was involved in his children’s lives. Kellett said he coached their soccer and softball teams.

“He was an excellent father,” she said. “That was his best trait. He loved being a dad.”

Mr. Tushin grew up in Needham, Mass., the youngest of three children. His family moved to Parsonsfield when he was about 9. He graduated from Biddeford High School in 1987, and then Plymouth State College in New Hampshire, where he received a degree in physical education for elementary schools.

Tracy Dutremble of Saco was Mr. Tushin’s girlfriend for the past five years. They enjoyed traveling and camping at Sebago Lake. He also enjoyed playing golf, and he was an avid sports fan.

His brother, Mark Tushin of Somersworth, N.H., said they had a close relationship and looked out for each other.

“He was the best brother you could ask for,” he said. “He was always checking on me to see how I was doing … Everyone is shocked. We can’t believe this happened. He was so young.”

Mr. Tushin collapsed Wednesday night while he was working at his second job, at the Shaw’s distribution center in Wells. His co-workers tried to resuscitate him before the ambulance arrived, but were unsuccessful. An autopsy is expected to determine the cause of his death.

“We are all in shock here,” Kellett said. “It was even worse to have to tell our kids this morning. One minute, we are OK, the next minute, I can’t believe this is happening. We’re going to have to take this one day at a time.”

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:

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