“Imagine” was one of Peter Alfond’s favorite words. Peter, who passed away earlier this month at the age 65, was a natural optimist who loved to dwell in the world of possibility. He dreamed big dreams and made many of them come true. At the heart of his dreams was improving people’s lives — especially people in his native Maine. Peter left us suddenly, and way too soon.

I was very fortunate to call Peter my friend. I met Peter in 2009 when I joined MaineGeneral as vice president for philanthropy. My charge was to raise the money to build a new hospital that would transform health care for the region. Peter was an active member of the hospital’s board of directors.

Peter discovered yoga and meditation in the 1970s at Kripalu in western Massachusetts. In the years since then, Peter explored many different healthy living strategies all over the world. His mind was endlessly curious and open to new ideas. He greeted many ideas with an enthusiasm that was deeply contagious to those around him. Peter was ahead of his time as once unusual practices as yoga and meditation have become mainstream. His joy was to share those ideas with others in the hopes of improving the quality of life for all.

Peter inspired MaineGeneral to include a teaching kitchen in its new hospital where experts could teach patients and their families how to prepare healthy foods. Because Peter thought is was important that patients and families to be surrounded by vibrant greenery even in the cold of winter, the hospital cafeteria features a “living wall” of cascading plants artfully arranged: a living sculpture.

Peter made an exceptionally generous gift to establish the Healthy Living Center at MaineGeneral, which now offers dozens of classes on yoga, meditation, healthy cooking and a variety of other healthy living strategies. In this very tangible way, Peter’s vision has touched the lives of countless people in our area, although I suspect many are not aware of his role in making this possible.

Peter’s gift to me personally was life changing. When I first met Peter I was highly stressed while simultaneously facing a massive professional challenge and caring for my aging parents. Peter encouraged me to try yoga and meditation. I dabbled with it at first, but over time, I came to love it.

At Peter’s urging I visited Kripalu and found it as inspirational as he did. I returned as often as I could. Ultimately, I discovered my yoga “home” at School Street in Waterville and expanded my practice to several days a week; I practice meditation daily.

Yoga and meditation have become foundations in my life that have helped me cope with a seemingly endless stream of serious family illnesses and deaths over the past three years. Not only have I survived these devastating challenges, one after the other, I have actually thrived. I know I am stronger than I was before. And I know one reason I am is Peter Alfond.

I will be forever grateful for the gift of knowing Peter. I will miss my friend. Peter’s legacy will live on in the lives of the many people who have been forever changed by his vision. People like me.

Lisa A. Hallee was born and raised in Watervile, and now lives in Oakland. She served as the vice president of philantrophy at MaineGeneral Health from 2009-2014.

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