Wayne Drown, Gorham’s first school resource officer, who won the respect of both students and law enforcement during a 45-year career in public service, died Sunday evening at Maine Medical Center of a heart-related illness.

Wayne Drown “connected with all the youth in our community,” said the deputy police chief. “For him, it was all about the kids.” Photo courtesy Gorham Police Department

“It is with great sadness and heavy hearts the Gorham Police Department announces the passing of School Resource Officer Wayne ‘Pooch’ Drown. The town of Gorham has lost a true ambassador for our community and its children,” Gorham police said in a post.

In addition to working as the high school’s resource officer since 1998, Drown, 66, was instrumental in building relationships with the Gorham school community.

Drown was involved in the Maine Special Olympics, refereed local basketball games and coached golf and softball at Gorham High School, Deputy Police Chief Christopher Sanborn said.

“He connected with all the youth in our community,” Sanborn said. “For him, it was all about the kids.”

Drown received several awards over the years, especially for his achievements in community policing.

In January, the Maine Association of Police gave Drown its Larry Gross Cop’s Cop award, recognizing his commitment to the well-being of his fellow officers, both on and off duty, as well as his work ethic.

“We are devastated to learn of our good friend and member Wayne ‘Pooch’ Drown’s unexpected passing,” the Maine Association of Police said. “We are grateful for knowing and learning much from Pooch and know he will be missed and remembered. Thank you for your service and Godspeed Wayne.”

Students at Gorham High School met with teachers and counselors Monday to grieve over the loss of their beloved officer, Principal Brian Jandreau said.

“He was a father-like figure to so many students as well as a mentor. People really admired him,” Jandreau said Monday night.

Jandreau said Drown told him that his role as school resource officer was the hardest job he ever held, because he cared so much about the students and staff he interacted with.

“He’d say first I am a teacher, then a counselor and last a cop. That’s how he saw himself, in that order,” Jandreau said.

Drown, who was born and raised in Gorham, began his career in public safety in 1974 when he joined the Gorham Fire Department as a volunteer firefighter, Sanborn said. Drown worked his way up to the rank of captain.

In August 1982, Drown was hired as a reserve police officer for the Gorham Police Department. He became a full-time officer in 1984. Drown was promoted to police detective in 1986, a position he held until being named the town’s first school resource officer in 1992. He became the high school’s full-time resource officer in 1998.

“School Resource Officer Drown touched the lives of many people. He will be sorely missed by the Gorham Police Department and all the members of the community,” Sanborn said.

Gorham residents reacted on Facebook, where the department posted photographs of Drown.

“You gave your heart and soul to your work and the people you touched,” Laurie St. Jock wrote in a Facebook comment.

“Special Olympics Maine and the Maine Law Enforcement Torch Run are deeply saddened by the loss of Poochie. Pooch actually assisted in making the very first Special Olympics in Maine happen and has been part of the Maine Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics since it began in 1984. We are all heartbroken by this loss,” Special Olympics Maine said.

“Pooch was an amazing man,” Katie Kidd said in a Facebook comment. “He was like a father to all of us kids at Gorham High School.”

Sanborn said the funeral service for Drown will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday at the University of Southern Maine Costello Sports Complex Field House in Gorham. A reception will follow the service at 41 Morrill Ave. in Gorham.

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]

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