TURNER — Roy Varney, one of Maine’s top high school Nordic skiers, died Tuesday from injuries he sustained while operating a piece of farm equipment that fell into a liquid manure pit at Nezinscot Farm on Monday.

“It’s with a heavy heart that we must announce that Gloria and Gregg Varney lost their son Roy this morning,” a post on farm’s Facebook page said Tuesday afternoon.

Class A Boys Nordic state champion Roy Varney died Tuesday from injuries suffered in a farm accident. Sun Journal file photo by Russ Dillingham

“We ask that you be respectful of the family and space and give them time. Roy lived his life to the fullest both at the farm, in skiing and in school. Send prayers and share with all who he has touched,” the post said.

Family members, who otherwise declined to comment, said the Varneys were with their son at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston on Tuesday morning.

John Nutting of Leeds said Roy Varney had always been “an enthusiast for every single thing he did,” a popular student who recently graduated from Leavitt Area High School in Turner.

Nutting said everyone in the community had been “hoping and praying” for Varney.

Turner Rescue Chief Lisa Bennett declined to name the victim in the accident, but said he was operating a skid-steer loader when the machine fell into the pit at the farm at 284 Turner Center Road.

Nutting, a longtime farmer, said that farming is “a very dangerous occupation” and that it’s likely Varney, 19, had done the job many times before something went wrong Monday.

Tessa Wadsworth said she grew up with Varney and was classmates with him from elementary school all the way through high school at Leavitt.

There was a lot to remember about Varney, she said, whether it was “mornings with him in AP government, asking me how I was doing and bringing in delicious baked goods to share with all,” his love for Kombucha, “his famous ‘virginity rocks’ T-shirt,” or his achievements as a Nordic skier.

“Roy Varney truly lived life to the fullest,” Wadsworth said. “He never wasted a moment. He always had energy and never let anyone put him down. He walked his own path his own way and would want us all to do the same.”

Varney, the Press Herald’s Varsity Maine Boys’ Skier of the Year last winter, was a graceful yet powerful athlete who excelled in the classical technique. He won his second straight Class A title in the discipline at the state meet in Fryeburg in February and added the pursuit title by having the fastest combined time for the classical and freestyle races, avenging a 1-second loss in that category in 2018.

Varney also was Maine’s top qualifier for the Eastern High School Championship meet held in Fort Kent in March, and in January he won the prestigious Sassi Memorial classical race at Black Mountain in Rumford over a field of 153 skiers from all classes and throughout the state.

“Hard work has been part of his life for a long time,” Leavitt High Coach Dustin Williamson said in March. “His drive is just so extreme that it propels him up to elite class.”

Growing up on the family farm – Nezinscot Farm was the state’s first organic dairy operation – helped Varney learn the importance of hard work at an early age. He regularly milked cows, fed animals and collected eggs before school.

“Me and my brother (Everet, a rising senior at Leavitt) get up every morning at 5:30 to do chores,” Varney said in March. “It’s not a lot of fun when you have to get to a ski race at 7 o’clock.”

His accomplishments in Nordic are all the more impressive given that he didn’t start ski racing until seventh grade and played football his first two years in high school – center on offense and linebacker on defense. He did, however, have some Nordic role models. His three older sisters have helped Williamson coach the Leavitt team.

Varney had begun competing in biathlon last winter and hoped to continue skiing in college, either at the University of New Hampshire or UMaine, Presque Isle. He had planned to concentrate on environmental studies and business, and with his siblings keep operating the family farm, which has expanded to include a gourmet food shop, cafe and bakery, fromagerie, charcuterie and fiber studio, according to the its website.

The farm store remained open Tuesday, but people working at the farm were visibly upset.

 

Press Herald Staff Writer Glenn Jordan contributed to this report.

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