GORHAM – Family and friends of Carol LaMontagne will gather Sunday to celebrate and honor a woman they say dedicated her life to family and her community.

“She was happiest when we were all together,” said her son Peter LaMontagne, who lives on Long Island. “We’re all going to miss her presence. She was the core anchor for the family. She was like a magnetic force. No matter how far any of us would go, we were all connected back to Mimi.”

Mrs. LaMontagne died late Wednesday at her home on Solomon Drive in Gorham. She was 76.

She was considered the matriarch of her family.

Her son Fred LaMontagne, Portland’s fire chief, remembered Thursday the hundreds of Sunday dinners she orchestrated. He said the tradition began years ago and continued until recently, when she got sick.

“Family was just everything to her,” he said. “It wasn’t about the food it was about the company and catching up. It was something you didn’t want to miss.”

Mrs. LaMontagne worked in the professional development center at the University of Southern Maine’s Gorham campus for many years.

She started there as a secretary and administrative assistant. She was promoted throughout her career and retired as assistant director.

Peter LaMontagne said she coordinated continuing education programs for teachers. She was responsible for the development, coordination and administration of those programs, he said.

“She loved her work,” he said. “She was an extremely hard worker. She took her job very seriously.”

She grew up in Malden, Mass., and graduated from Danvers (Mass.) High School in 1953.

There, she met her husband, Frederick J. LaMontagne Sr. They started dating when he was a sophomore and she was a senior. He died on May 20, 2005, a few months shy of their 47th wedding anniversary.

Fred LaMontagne said his parents shared a great life together.

“They had an incredible marriage,” he said. “They had high points and low points, but through thick and thin their love was evident. They were always there for each other. They gave strength to each other and everyone around them.”

Mrs. LaMontagne was an active member of St. Anne’s Church in Gorham. There, she was a eucharistic minister. She also served on several committees including the church’s parish council.

“She just loved everyone at St. Anne’s. They were a big part of her life as well,” Fred LaMontagne said.

She also had a passion for reading and knitting.

About five years ago, Mrs. LaMontagne experienced a series of medical setbacks ranging from kidney problems to leukemia. Peter LaMontagne said the combination was too hard for her to overcome.

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

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