Auburn School Committee member Bonnie Hayes, left, comforts Darcy Smyth after Smyth spoke during a celebration of life for Tom Kendall at Edward Little High School on Sunday. Smyth, the alpine ski coach at Auburn Middle School, told family and friends how much Kendall meant to the local ski community. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

AUBURN — A modest leader. An innovator. A man who had all of the answers. A true friend.

Heidi Kendall speaks about her father, Tom Kendall, during a celebration of life for Tom Kendall at Edward Little High School on Sunday. Tom Kendall died on September 6, 2019. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Friends and family of Tom Kendall, chairman of the Auburn School Committee remembered him Sunday afternoon for all of those qualities and more during a public memorial at the Edward Little High School gymnasium.

Kendall died Sept. 6 from injuries suffered from falling off a roof.

Everyone who spoke about Kendall on Sunday described him as an innovator and a forward-thinking person.

Bonnie Hayes, a close friend of Kendall who served with him on the Auburn School Committee, said he “believed our students needed to prepare for the 21st century,” and that “we could not continue to teach our children the same way that we were taught.”

She said Kendall was an integral part of getting laptop computers and iPads introduced to students in Auburn.

Auburn Superintendent Katy Grondin agreed with Hayes, adding that Kendall recognized bringing iPads into the classrooms of kindergarten students was a “cutting-edge opportunity” for Auburn, and he played a role in bringing laptops into classrooms when U.S. Sen. Angus King was governor.

Auburn firefighters Ryan Demers, left, and Chip Keene welcome guests to the celebration of life for Tom Kendall at Edward Little High School in Auburn on Sunday. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Grondin said Kendall was “my mentor, my friend, my cheerleader and my confidant.”

“He listened, he encouraged and he advised,” Grondin said. “We all need people who raise our standards and push us to be better versions of ourselves.”

Mark Lee, an architect who worked with Kendall, said his dedication to Auburn students was evident in his recent efforts to get Auburn a new high school.

Kendall, who graduated from Edward Little High School in 1968, was chairman of the ELHS Building Committee and a proponent of a new school, which Lee helped design.

“Tom had a vision that challenged us,” Lee said. “He didn’t just want the school to be the best in the county, or the best in Maine, but the best in all of New England.”

Kendall’s daughter, Heidi, said when she was trying to figure out where to hold the public memorial for her father, she narrowed it down to a few places, including Streaked Mountain in Buckfield, where he loved to hike, “the slopes of Lost Valley, where he taught us all to ski,” or the Auburn soccer fields, where “you could find him running up and down the sidelines as a (referee), a coach, and a dad.”

Ultimately, Heidi Kendall said, Edward Little High School felt like the right place to hold it, “considering his lifelong dedication to learning.”

Heidi Kendall said her father demonstrated the qualities of a “servant leader,” which she described as someone who “focuses on others and the community to which they belong.”

She said his efforts to get laptops and iPads into the classroom were representative of his drive to shepherd Auburn into the 21st century.

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A celebration of life was held for Tom Kendall of Auburn at Edward Little High School on Sunday. Tom Kendall died on September 6, 2019. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

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