FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (NEWS CENTER) -- The death of Dave Cloutier stirred memories across Patriots Nation in appreciation of his historic stature as the first Mainer to play for the team.

Cloutier's death at his home in Palm Coast, Florida on November 6 was announced on Tuesday in a statement from the Patriots. He was 78 years old.

Born on Nov. 22, 1938, Cloutier grew up in Gardiner.

Cloutier saw his greatest professional success in 1964. After signing with the Boston Patriots as a free agent, he played as a defensive back and punt returner in 12 of 14 games that season. His 20 punt returns for 136 yards led the team.

Realizing his full potential as a professional football player didn't come easily. The Dallas Cowboys selected Cloutier in the 18th round of the 1962 draft. But he rejected their offer and chose instead to join the Buffalo Bills of the AFL as a free agent. The team then released him following an injury.

Cloutier returned to his home state of Maine and spent the 1963 season as a coach at Kennebunk High School. A year later, he would become a Patriot.

In addition to his professional exploits, Cloutier also left a lasting mark during his years as a running back for the University of Maine from 1959 to 1961. His first year was especially memorable. He led the team in scoring and rushing. Cloutier broke out for 159 yards against Bates College to tie a school record at the time for most rushing yards in a single game.

Cloutier's athletic accomplishments were rewarded with induction into the University of Maine Hall of Fame and the Maine Sports Hall of Fame.