Adrian Jacques died last month of Legionnaires’ Disease, leaving a legacy of generosity, kindness and devotion to his family.

Even in his sickest moments, he was thinking of others, urging people to wear masks during the coronavirus pandemic and trying to set up a foundation to raise money for the purchase of personal protective equipment so people in the hospital dying with COVID-19 could have their loved ones with them.

Adrian Jacques

“There were days he’d call me on the phone and say, ‘I got four people to wear masks today,'”Jacques’ mother, Beverly Gephart, recalled. “He and I were very close and there were days and days that we would talk four to six hours on the phone.”

Gephart, of Solon, contacted me after Jacques, of Skowhegan, died June 8 at age 44. She wanted to do something to commemorate his life because he was so selfless, she said.

His was a life of adventure, before he was diagnosed four years ago with Common Variable Immunodeficiency Disease, a complex disease and genetic blood disorder which Gephart says she also has. On top of that, in January, he was told he had acute myeloid leukemia, she said.

Born in a doctor’s farmhouse in Strong to Gephart and Robert Jacques Jr., Adrian Jacques grew up along the Kennebec River in Concord Township and later lived in Fairfield and Oakland, graduating from Messalonskee High School in 2005. He enjoyed art and later would become a skilled graphic artist. When he was 5, he and his family saw an unidentified flying object in New York as they were traveling and the experience had a lasting impression on Jacques, who often included UFOs in his artwork, Gephart said. He also was competitive in paintball events and traded sports cards. After high school, he raced sports cars, wrote a screenplay and researched ancient religions. When he was 12, he wrote a children’s book.

Beverly Gephart holds snapshots of her late son Adrian Jacques’ life at her home in Solon on Friday. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

He was handsome, but modest, according to his mother. At 21, he entered a modeling contest in Boston. After the 3-day event, he was offered three modeling contracts in New York City but turned them down, opting instead to pursue his interest in graphic design.

For a year during his youth, the family lived in Hawaii and he competed in boogie board events. His kindness emerged in small ways at first.

“He fed fish peas when he snorkeled,” Gephart recalled.

As he grew older, he rescued abandoned animals and found families to take them in. He volunteered for the Humane Society Waterville Area, loved cats and had several throughout his life.

“Adrian was very, very good to the homeless,” Gephart said. “One Christmas, there was a homeless man on the rotary in Skowhegan. Adrian stopped and he said, ‘Do you want a coffee?’ He and Brandy gave him a coffee.”

Brandy is Jacques’ wife and partner of 21 years. They have a daughter, Abigail-Paige, born in 2007, with whom Jacques spent a lot of time before he passed away. They would simply lounge on the sofa, talking and telling stories.

Beverly Gephart poses for a portrait Friday while holding a picture of her late son Adrian Jacques at her home in Solon. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

“He wasn’t a social media person — he didn’t believe in it,” Gephart said. “He was really into his family. He devoted his life to Brandy and the family. He was very, very simple and he didn’t have to be out there in the world anymore. He was at home with his wife and daughter and that was all he needed and he let me know that, and he let everybody know that.”

They celebrated his 44th birthday Jan. 27 at Gephart’s home in Solon. A couple of days later, he learned he had acute myeloid leukemia.

“After his diagnosis, the only two things he wanted to do were marry Brandy and build a new computer with Abigail-Paige,” Gephart said. “He was able to do both of those things.”

He and Brandy wed April 3 on Wesserunsett Lake at the camp of the Rev. Mark Tanner and his wife, Deb, who offered to host the ceremony.

“Adrian wore a white suit and Brandy wore a white gown and Abigail-Paige was in a black suit,” Gephart recalled. “Brandy’s parents, Alan and Anne Duplessis from Jackman were there, and Adrian’s younger brother, Leighton Timmins of New Hampshire. It was a very small, quiet wedding. It was a beautiful, sunny day. Adrian was frail and had a cane at that time. He didn’t feel good but he had a really, really great day.”

The next few weeks were difficult. Jacques developed pneumonia, was hospitalized and placed on a ventilator. His temperature was 104.5, according to his mother. Doctors tried to ascertain how he got Legionnaires’. Gephart said it could have been from bacteria in compost he used for gardening or bacteria from air conditioners he recently helped to install in his home.

“He was going into kidney failure, liver failure and we didn’t know that it was Legionnaires’ Disease until we lost him and they got the biopsy back” she said.

Beverly Gephart holds pictures of her late son Adrian Jacques’ life Friday at her home in Solon. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

There’s a lot more to this story, including about the months and years the family worked with doctors from Maine to Colorado on diagnoses and treatment plans, Gephart’s working with the Immune Deficiency Foundation to seek answers, and kindnesses shown by empathetic organizations including one that pitched in $7,500 to have an oncologist and immunologist do diagnostic work and develop a treatment plan.

Jacques’ family worked diligently to help save him. But in the end, as Gephart says, it wasn’t to be.

What she wanted to emphasize is that, as her son’s illness worsened, he contacted family members and friends from as far back as high school to make amends — to apologize for things he may have said or done. And they embraced him for doing so, according to his mother.

“That was a big deal,” she said. “I thought, ‘That is really a nice young man that I raised.'”

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 33 years. Her columns appear here Saturdays. She may be reached at [email protected]. For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to centralmaine.com.


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