A week following the sudden death of a Lake Region Middle School teacher and avid conservationist in the Lakes Region, friends and co-workers of Adam Perron remember him as energetic, intelligent and fun-loving.
Perron, 29, of Harrison, was killed April 20 in a collision as he was driving westbound on Route 302 in Casco. Authorities say a Native Maine Produce truck driven by Josh McNally, 31, of Westbrook, swerved into Perron’s path, striking the driver’s side. McNally survived the crash but Perron was killed instantly.
During the past week, the community has gathered to honor Perron, a Bridgton native.
Last Friday, Earth Day, 60 community members gathered for a spring cleanup in Bridgton hosted by the Lakes Environmental Association and Loon Echo Land Trust, both in Bridgton.
In 2015, Perron helped to organize Bridgton’s first Earth Day community cleanup. Last year a handful of people showed up, said Peter Lowell, executive director of the Lakes Environmental Association in Bridgton. This year’s large turnout was “indicative of the community sentiment, the many people who felt he was important to them,” Lowell said.
On Sunday, a celebration of life service was held for Perron at Holt Pond Preserve in Bridgton, one of the many places Perron worked clearing trails during his long service with the lakes association.
Perron began working for the lakes association in high school with his lifelong friend, Daniel Bishop, volunteering as water testing interns.
“They were a power duo,” said Colin Holme, the association’s assistant director, “they set a high bar for future interns to look up to.”
From there, the two friends became paid interns, and eventually paid staff. Perron worked building trails, led an educational program and, most memorably for staff, cleared Songo River and Brandy Pond of invasive milfoil, a freshwater weed that grows rapidly and impedes swimming and fishing in Maine lakes and ponds.
Removing the milfoil is challenging, according to Lowell, requiring a worker to dive into the cold, murky depths of the water for long periods of time.
Despite the conditions, Holme said, Perron brought passion and energy to his work. As a team leader on the milfoil crew, Holme said, Perron “forged a bond with all the guys working there, and they all worked harder because of his ability to bond with them and make the job fun. That’s what he did with everything, turned work around into something they really enjoyed.”
Bishop also described Perron as fun and energetic.
“Humor was a big part of who he was,” he said.
Whether it was early April and he was donning a wetsuit before diving for milfoil, or educating kids about the environment, “humor was a big part of that,” Bishop said. “He encouraged it and pulled it out of others. He made people feel comfortable.”
“His ability to do hard labor was paralleled by his intellect,” Lowell said. “He was innovative, thoughtful and just a great educator especially. Usually you don’t find that combination in too many people.”
Last fall, Perron began teaching science to seventh- and eighth-graders at Lake Region Middle School. There he brought his experience from the lakes association to the classroom, and “made science content really relevant and meaningful to kids,” Principal Matt Lokken said.
“He had always had really tangible examples to make complex concepts more concrete,” Lokken said. “The kids related to him well right off the bat. There was a lot of mutual respect in his classroom.”
Bishop described Perron, husband of Elizabeth Perron and father to 19-month-old Abigail, as “an amazing father, husband and the best friend you could have.”
“Let’s not forget the things he was fighting for,” Bishop said, “better education and improving the environment, both socially and physically. These are the things we shouldn’t let go of.”
The late Adam Perron, who was killed last week in a crash on Route 302 in Naples, worked on numerous environmental projects in the Lakes Region, including ridding the Songo River of invasive milfoil. Here he is pictured in 2013 on the river linking Brandy Pond and Sebago Lake.
Adam Perron, middle, led the effort to remove invasive milfoil from the Songo River along with Lakes Environmental Association Executive Director Peter Lowell, left, and another longtime assoication employee Christian Oren. Here the group is pictured in 2013 after successfully removing all milfoil from the river, an effort that took several years.