WESTBROOK — More than 500 people gathered Sunday for a memorial service for Leon Gorman, former president of L.L. Bean, who was remembered as a quiet but tenacious man who tackled everything he did with intensity, whether climbing a mountain in the Himalayas or grilling eggs for 400 people at a Portland soup kitchen.

Gorman died of cancer on Sept. 3. He was 80.

During the service at the Westbrook Performing Arts Center, speakers focused on Gorman’s efforts to preserve land for conservation, his volunteer work at Preble Street, a Portland agency that helps the poor, and his legacy at L.L. Bean, which experienced explosive growth during his 34 years as president and 12 years as chairman of the board. Gorman became president of the Freeport outdoors and apparel company in 1967 after the death of his grandfather, company founder Leon Leonwood Bean.

Gorman’s body lay in a flower-draped casket at the front of the stage during the non-religious memorial. To the left was a painting of Gorman, wearing a hunting jacket and sitting on a log with his two dogs, English springer spaniels.

Mark Swann, executive director of the Preble Street, said Gorman volunteered at the agency’s Portland soup kitchen every Wednesday morning for 12 years. Swann announced that the agency’s volunteer of the year award will be named the Leon Gorman Volunteer Service Award.

Swann recalled last winter getting a call from Gorman while Gorman was sitting in a plane idling on the tarmac at Boston’s Logan Airport during a storm. Gorman wanted to know how Portland’s homeless were coping with the unusually cold and stormy winter. Swann reported they lacked warm clothes, and Gorman immediately called the company’s warehouse and dispatched a truck filled with winter jackets, scarves, hats and toe-warmers to distribute to the homeless.

Gorman was also a strategic adviser to the agency and helped raise money to build a teen center that provides services for homeless and runaway youths.

Gorman was the most powerful private person in Maine, but he often thought about ways to help the “least powerful, most easily forgotten people in the state,” Swann said. “What a lesson from Leon for all of us.”

Tom Deans, former executive director of the Appalachian Mountain Club, talked about Gorman’s love of the outdoors. Deans and his wife, Penny, and Gorman and his wife, Lisa, hiked together on trails around the world and in New England. He said Gorman served as the “map-reader” and preferred the most difficult route over the easiest one when given an option.

Gorman’s work ethic was apparent in his philanthropy as well. Gorman carefully studied proposals before donating money for land-protection efforts, Deans said. The efforts include the preservation of the “100-mile wilderness,” the wildest and most challenging section the Appalachian Trail, as well as a 4,000-acre addition to Baxter State Park and 185,000 acres along the St. John River. Last year, Gorman donated Lanes Island, an old L.L. Bean hunting preserve in Casco Bay, to the Maine Coast Heritage Trust.

Gorman was a reserved and methodical man who planned his hunting trips two weeks in advance, and he was so devoted to L.L. Bean that he would go to work on Christmas Day, said his daughter, Jennifer Gorman. Yet Gorman was also a warm man who loved life and cared deeply about his family and his employees, she said.

Many of the people attending the service were L.L. Bean employees. When Gorman visited a work site, people would get nervous because he was the boss, but Gorman tried to put everyone at ease, said Jennifer Rich of Scarborough, a customer service representative who began working at L.L. Bean 37 years ago.

“You trusted him. You knew he meant well,” she said. “He was a very nice person. He wasn’t just an L.L. Bean icon.”

Gorman is credited with modernizing L.L. Bean, guiding it during a period of explosive growth. Revenues increased from just under $5 million in 1967 to $1.6 billion in 2013 when he stepped down as chairman.

“Leon took his grandfather’s company and built a legend,” said Elaine Rosen, a close family friend who introduced the service. Rosen, former president of Unum Life Insurance Co., had worked with Gorman at Preble Street, where she serves on the board of directors.

Gorman’s stepson Shimon Cohen and niece Lauren Amron also spoke.

Gorman spent four years in the Navy before joining L.L. Bean in 1960. After the service, his casket was draped with an American flag. The burial in Yarmouth, where Gorman grew up, was private.

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