ORONO — University of Maine Fogler Library has received an $800,000 gift from the estate of Lee Gagnon, a member of the Class of 1959, to support an endowed memorial fund in honor of his parents, according to University of Maine Foundation President/CEO Jeffery Mills.

The Lionel J. Gagnon and Germaine Fortin Gagnon Memorial Fund will provide resources for the library’s procurement of resources, including books, videos, tapes, computer equipment, software and supplies, speakers, programs and materials in perpetuity. The balance of the fund, established in 2000, now exceeds $1 million.

Gagnon, a native of Waterville, Maine who was living in Charleson, Rhode Island, passed away Aug. 1, 2021 at the age of 83.

“This gift will advance the ability of the state’s largest research library to provide excellent resources to our university community, across the University of Maine System and the state,” says UMaine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy. “As part of our Carnegie R1 top-tier research institution, Fogler has a critical role in supporting students, faculty, staff and Maine residents.”

Gagnon, who graduated from UMaine with a degree in economics, had a long and successful career in insurance and banking in Connecticut, where he raised his family. He retired from Webster Financial Corp. as executive vice president, chief operating officer and secretary. Gagnon served in the military, both in active and reserve duty. 

According to Gagnon’s daughter, Terri Driscoll, he was grateful for the opportunities he had in his life and credited UMaine with providing him with the foundation for his future success. He was an avid reader and always maintained a large library of his own.

Gagnon’s brother Lawrence and two grandchildren also are UMaine graduates.

The Lionel J. and Germaine Fortin Gagnon Memorial Fund to benefit Folger Library was established as a tribute to UMaine and to help future students. 

Gagnon’s parents were married in 1936 and established a family farm in Oakland, Maine that they operated with their four children. The couple retired in 1973. Gagnon cited fond memories of growing up on the farm, and his parents’ unconditional love, support and encouragement in his life endeavors as his motivation for honoring them with this gift.

“Lee worked with Foundation staff in 2000 to set this fund in place as a part of his estate planning process. This is a good example of how important it is to take the time to ensure that your wishes are clearly defined for those in charge of handling your estate. This is a classic example of a true legacy gift and we are very grateful to Lee for his generous gift and his faith in our services,” says Mills.