Joseph DeCourcey, longtime dean of student affairs at the former Southern Maine Vocational Technical Institute, died Saturday surrounded by his family. He was 83.

Joseph “Dickie” DeCourcey was a fixture in Portland’s Libbytown neighborhood.

Mr. DeCourcey, known by many as “Dickie,” was a fixture in Portland’s Libbytown neighborhood. He served on the city’s Planning Board for 12 years, including as chair in 1991-92.

Some notable accomplishments during his tenure include the expansions of Maine Medical Center, the University of Southern Maine, the Portland International Jetport, Portland High School, Westbrook College, and the Cumberland County Courthouse.

He was remembered Wednesday as a loving father of six sons, who devoted his life to his students and the city he loved.

“He was a wonderful person,” said his son James DeCourcey, in a soft, shaky tone. He broke down in tears. “He was a great dad … an unbelievable father. I have a 5-year-old son that just worshiped the ground he walked on.”

Mr. DeCourcey was a history teacher and track coach at Westbrook High School from 1963 to 1966. At age 31, he was hired as dean of student affairs at the former SMVTI in South Portland, now called Southern Maine Community College.

His son shared stories this week of the impact his father had on students. He knew of one student who forged a paper. Mr. DeCourcey gave him a chance to make it right.

He knew of another student who got into trouble and had a talk with his father. The student decided to change majors to law enforcement and is now a police officer.

“He told me, ‘That was 30 some years ago and I owe every bit to your dad,’ ” his son recalled.

“He loved interacting with his students and getting them on the correct path in life when they needed it. He changed the lives of many as I continue to hear today some 19 years after his retirement,” his son said.

Mr. DeCourcey had strong roots in Libbytown. His parents emigrated from Ireland to Maine around 1920 and settled there.

He served on the Planning Board from 1985 to 1997. As a board member, he contributed to the development or improvements of local schools and colleges, the Maine State Pier pedestrian walkway, Hadlock Field and the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad.

His son said he felt strongly about giving back to the community.

“He loved Libbytown,” he said. “His friends around here were so close to him. He was so loving and welcoming.”

Mr. DeCourcey had close relationships with his wife, Liz, of 22 years, his children and grandchildren.

“He was an awesome dad,” he said. “I told him many times when he was dying that he’s my friend. He was always happy to hear from you. He always loved seeing you. The way the grandkids were around him was just unbelievable.”

Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: MelanieCreamer

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