DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — Piscataquis County’s economic development group recognized William “Bill” Thompson — a Guilford resident, teacher and longtime Select Board member — as this year’s Warren “Pete” Myrick Award winner.
Myrick was a Guilford resident, longtime educator at Maine School Administrative District 4 and one of the Piscataquis County Economic Development Council’s founders. He served as the council’s president in 2001 and died in 2002.
The council presented Thompson with the award during its annual meeting at Pat’s Pizza in Dover-Foxcroft on Monday evening. U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King sent videos congratulating Thompson, and representatives from the offices were there to honor him.
The development council gives a county resident, business or organization the annual award, which celebrates exemplary commitment and outstanding contributions to education, economic development and civic engagement. It’s a way for the county to highlight residents’ contributions that might otherwise go unrecognized.
“I’ve always held a high esteem for his morals, his ethics, his service, his commitment,” Tom Goulette, an at-large member on the development council’s executive committee, said of Thompson. “He has gone above and beyond in so many areas.”
Goulette, winner of the Myrick award in 2020, nominated Thompson. He described him as a humble, unassuming man who worked hard for his family, students and community.
He noted that Thompson was a Guilford Select Board member for 42 years, many of those as chair. He was active in helping the town obtain grants and pursue major projects, such as the $400,000 addition to the library, a $100,000 grant for remaking the playground and tennis courts and others, Goulette said.
Thompson also served on a number of committees, including the county’s budget committee. He started and was president of the Guilford Area JCs, which provided mentorship and business development training.
He also was a science teacher for 45 years and even taught college courses and driver’s education. Thompson kept retiring and coming back, Goulette joked.
Among Thompson’s accomplishments was putting computers in the hands of every fifth-grader, which became a pilot for a national program. He also bought things with his own money to bring to the classroom and showed kids the latest new technology, Goulette said.
“He was just committed to his students,” he said.
Paul Stearns, who won the award last year, congratulated Thompson with a legislative sentiment signed by Maine Senate President Troy Jackson and former Maine House Speaker Ryan Fecteau.
As former superintendent of MSAD 4, Stearns was around during part of Thompson’s teaching career, which began at the district in 1967. Thompson always worked on the behalf of residents and students, without the desire for recognition, he said.
Collins, in her video message, said Thompson has established a well-deserved reputation as a problem-solver, especially during his decades as a Select Board member. He has served as a mentor to young students and older ones when he stepped forward to lead the adult education program, she said.
Being a Select Board member is an important job that requires being on the frontlines of serving the people, and Thompson has done a great service, King said.
Thompson complimented Goulette on his work as Guilford’s former town manager for 18 years and Stearns for supporting science programs in the schools.
“I appreciate that immensely,” he said. “It made my job nice and it made the students appreciate what we had in little, old Guilford, Maine.”
He expressed gratitude to others who he’s worked alongside over the years, some of whom are no longer alive. That includes Myrick, who gave him and others good advice during an orientation for new employees at the district and continued to offer guidance on a regular basis, he said.
“There are many men and women in this community who I have dealt with and they have all been supportive,” he said. “I cannot tell you how supportive they have been. It makes the community better, it makes Piscataquis County better and if we can all put it together, we have a good state.”