By all accounts, Ronald Morin was a man who lived to laugh and make others laugh. So it only seemed right that his son Eric Morin drew an outburst of laughter as he recalled highlights of his father’s life during Ronald Morin’s funeral Mass in Lewiston on Friday.
Morin’s funeral was one of two planned on Friday, the firsts for the 18 victims of the largest mass shooting in Maine’s modern history. He, along with seven others, were fatally shot when Robert R. Card II opened fire at Schemengees Bar and Grille in Lewiston on Oct. 25. Ten others were killed by Card at Just-In-Time Recreation the same night.
“He was an incredible man and the whole world is talking about him,” Eric Morin said of his father. “Despite what people have said, he did have some flaws, and I’d like to share them with you.”
Eric Morin then pulled a roll of paper from his pocket and allowed it to unfurl to the floor. Hundreds of Ronald Morin’s family, friends, co-workers, members of his softball team and first responders from the Lewiston area burst out in sustained laughter.
That was one of several lighthearted moments throughout the funeral that began in silence as a cloth covering was laid on his casket by family and friends.
Before following the draped casket as it was taken from the back of the church to the altar in front, Ronald Morin’s widow, Lynn Morin, gently smoothed a fold in the cloth, letting her hand rest there a moment.
Laughter defined Ronald Morin’s life, according to Matt Lunt, who worked with Morin for more than 20 years at Coca Cola New England.
“He was just an amazing guy,” Lunt said. “The kind of guy who would give you the shirt off his back, and funny. He was always making you laugh — he was just a really good guy.”
Rev. Daniel Greenleaf, pastor of Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul Upper Church who officiated the service, even got some laughs at Ronald Morin’s expense when he stopped midsentence to note the tall Paschal candle — the candle used for both baptisms and funerals in the Catholic Church — was leaning a bit crookedly in its holder.
“I need to straighten that,” Greenleaf said. “I know Ron is laughing at that right now.”
Greenleaf referenced “The Brothers Karamazov” by Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky.
“‘If you want to discern a man and know his soul, you must look, not at how he keeps silent, or how he speaks, or how he weeps, or even how he is stirred by the noblest ideas,’” Greenleaf quoted. “But you had better look at him when he laughs.”
Ronald Morin was remembered as a man who loved people, beyond just making them laugh.
“He cared for everyone,” Greenleaf said. “He acknowledged everyone.”
That was echoed by his children, who said their father was always ready to help anyone who needed it because he could never say no.
Morin’s daughter, Amy Puciaty, said she convinced her father to go whitewater rafting with her last summer on the Kennebec River. The river, she said, was running especially high and fast at the time due to a combination of heavy rain and released water.
“During the rafting everyone on the raft wanted to go swimming [in the river] except my dad,” Puciaty said. “So you know what he did? He went swimming.”
He ended up swallowing a lot of river water in the process, but could not stop laughing, she said.
“I am so grateful for all the times he never said no,” Puciaty said. “It was a happy life of adventure.”
Family and friends escorted Ronald Morin’s casket out of the church into bright sunlight, accompanied by a single bagpiper playing “Amazing Grace.”
Earlier in the day, Tricia Asselin, who was fatally shot while running for a phone to call 911 at Just-In-Time Recreation, was celebrated at a private service in Auburn.