MILLINOCKET, Maine — The mood was somber at Stearns Junior/Senior High School on Tuesday as students and staff continued to cope with the loss of a popular teacher, Superintendent Kenneth Smith said.
The Millinocket School Committee held a moment of silence at its meeting at 4 p.m. Tuesday in honor of Denise Golding, 47, of Eddington. Golding was driving west on Route 9 in her Hyundai sedan when it collided with an eastbound pickup driven by Scott Ramsdell, 43, of Cutler, on Route 9 in Eddington shortly before 6 a.m. Monday.
Golding was pronounced dead at the scene, while Ramsdell suffered serious injuries and remains hospitalized at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, Chief Deputy Troy Morton of the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office said.
The cause of the accident remains under investigation. Morton released the victims’ names on Tuesday, but staff and students at the school knew soon after the accident that Golding had been killed, Smith said.
“She rides with other people, a group of people who carpool up from the Greater Bangor area, and she didn’t show up,” Smith said Tuesday. “We made a few phone calls at my office and learned what happened.”
Smith immediately called a short schoolwide assembly and broke the news to students and staff Monday morning. The immediate reaction, he said, was shock. School counselors and other staff were and still are on hand to help people cope with the loss, he said.
“She was a new teacher this year and it has hit a lot of people pretty hard. She was an excellent teacher and a great person,” Smith said. “She was extremely well-liked.”
Golding taught English as a second language to about 15 students, predominantly Chinese students involved in the school’s International Student Program, although some were Vietnamese, South American and Greek, Smith said. She also helped the Chinese international students teach Chinese to the school’s local seventh- and eighth-graders, Smith said.
“I would say she was an outstanding ESL teacher. A great worker. Her room was alive with cultural activities,” Smith said.
A single mother of four children, Golding had bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Maine in Orono, Smith said. A graduate of Brewer High School, Golding taught previously in Old Town and Eddington schools and taught for two years in Shenzhen, China. She was a volunteer for Girl and Boy Scout organizations and the Scottish Rites’ Orten Gillingham program, according to her obituary.
“She was a great teacher and a big loss,” Smith said.
A wake with visiting hours will be held from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 1, at Brookings-Smith of Bangor. A service celebrating her life will follow there at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 2.
Smith said he hoped to have some students and staff attend funeral or memorial services for Golding, but none of those details has been addressed yet.
BDN reporter Ryan McLaughlin contributed to this report.