BIDDEFORD, Maine — The Biddeford community is mourning the loss of a former teacher, coach, and athletic director, Don Wilson.
According to the Portland Press Herald's source, Jim Godbout, a friend of Wilson, the 73-year-old Wilson took his own life by standing in front of an Amtrak Downeaster heading north from Boston Monday afternoon.
Godbout said that when Wilson and his wife Peggy returned to Maine this spring from Florida, his friend was dealing with “severe anxiety and depression.”
Wilson graduated from St. Louis High School and the University of Southern Maine. Wilson was an Industrial Arts teacher, coach, assistant principal, and athletic director for 37 years at Biddeford High School.
“The Biddeford school community is extremely saddened to lose such a beloved legacy,” said Superintendent of Schools Jeremy Ray. “Don is the epitome of Tiger Pride and left a significant impact on all individuals he encountered. He knew everyone and prided himself in knowing their athletic stats without prompting. His memory was ironclad and he gave the Biddeford youth in this community the opportunity to excel inside and outside of the classroom.”
As the school's former athletic director for 23 years, Wilson had many accomplishments. According to a Facebook post by the Biddeford School Department, he was recognized in the Biddeford Hall of Honor in 2015 for his greatest contributions consisting of expanding athletic offerings in which he added six varsity programs and several sub-varsity offerings.
He was instrumental to the development of Waterhouse Field including Co-Chairing the Waterhouse Field Lighting Committee, which allowed the return of night football in 1985, played a major role in the installation of bleachers in 1985 and 1989, and assisted in the fundraising efforts for the renovation in 2018.
Don was also instrumental in bringing the Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl game to Waterhouse Field, awarded the Maine Interscholastic Administrator of the Year award, and received a Citation Award in recognition of outstanding contributions to Interscholastic Athletics from the National Federation of High Schools.
More information will follow from the family regarding his Celebration of Life.
If you or someone you know is struggling, there are a number of resources you can reach out to for help, including:
- Maine 24-Hour Crisis Hotline: 1-888-568-1112
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 (or online chat)
- National Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741
- Veterans Crisis Line: Call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, or text to 838255
- Trevor Project LGBT Crisis Line: 1-866-488-7386 (online chat, or text TREVOR to 1-202-304-1200)
This story will be updated.