Francis E. Purnell

WATERVILLE – Francis E. Purnell, a beloved member of the Waterville community, passed away in the early morning hours on Tuesday, May 2, 2023, at the age of 83, after a brief illness. Born in Waterville in 1939, he was the only child of Harry and Kathleen Purnell. After graduating from Waterville High School, he honorably served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1958 to 1962.

Fran spent his career with Ace Tire and Bill’s Tire, selling truck tires to customers throughout Maine and parts of Canada until he retired. However, he came out of retirement to work with his sons at Granite Corp, where he helped in all possible ways he could.

Following the passing of Winston, the beloved and cherished dog of Fran and Joyce, Fran devoted his time to caring for the family dogs and pursuing his passion for animals. Fran’s love for animals was second only to his love of baseball. He generously gave his time to work with the local Little League Baseball community, which led to numerous accolades, including proclamation days for the city of Waterville and the renaming of Matthews Field to Purnell Field in recognition of his more than 45 years of service and dedication.

Fran and Joyce believed that every child deserved the opportunity to play baseball, and thus they started a new league, the Challenger Division, for handicapped children in the area. Over the years, countless local children had the opportunity to don a uniform and play baseball, thanks to Fran’s unrelenting dedication. He even went so far as to organize games between local baseball/softball teams, parents, and other volunteers, so that the handicapped children had teams to play against.

In 2014, Fran met Ken Walsh, an exceptional person from the Alfond Youth Center, who became a son to Fran and Joyce. Fran retired and passed the baton to Ken, who worked tirelessly to develop Purnell Wrigley Field, a legacy that will be forever remembered.

Fran’s wonderful wife of 63 years, Joyce, was behind him every step of the way in supporting his visions and dreams, and together, they learned to share his time with many children in the community, giving them the opportunity to participate in local baseball.

Fran is survived by his beloved wife that he married on May 14, 1960, Joyce; and their three children, Christopher Purnell, Debra Poulin and her fiancé Lou Berthel, Kevin A. Purnell and his wife Lisa. Fran’s legacy also includes his cherished grandchildren, Kevin II and Stephanie Purnell, Nicholas and Jamie Purnell, Max and Mikayla Poulin, Abigail Poulin and her fiancé Tyler Bartlett, Katie Purnell, Ariana and Peter Lepage, Kendall Purnell, and Ashley and Matthew Woodbury. Fran was also blessed with many great-grandchildren, including Ryker, Livia, Piper, Gavin, Theodore, Brynn, Korbin, Kaycen, Greyson, Grady, and one more due in September that he was recently able to see the belly bump of. He is also survived by his cousin, Richard Purnell.

In addition to his immediate family, Fran had a special place in his heart for his in-laws, including sister-in-law, Celeste and her husband David Harris, sister-in-law, Arlene and her husband Gordon Jones, sister-in-law, Annette Rancourt, sister-in-law, Muriel Rancourt, sister-in-law, Pat Rancourt, and brother-in-law, Robert LaChance. He also cherished his nieces and nephews.

Sadly, Fran was predeceased by great-grandson, Brayden; his sister-in-law, Shirley LaChance, as well as his brothers-in-law Carl, Earl, and David Rancourt.

Francis E. Purnell will be remembered by his loved ones and the Waterville community for his unwavering dedication to baseball and his willingness to help others. He will be deeply missed, and his legacy will live on through the Challenger Division and Purnell Wrigley Field.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, May 17, at Notre Dame Catholic Church, 116 Silver St., Waterville, followed by a Celebration of Life from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Notre Dame Church Hall. Burial will be in the Niche Wall at the Maine Veterans Memorial Cemetery, Blue Star Highway, Augusta at a later time established by family and friends. Arrangements are under the direction and care of Gallant Funeral Home, 10 Elm St., Waterville. An online guestbook may be signed, condolences and memories shared at

In lieu of flowers,

donations and contributions can be made in Fran’s memory to the

Purnell Baseball

Endowment Fund at the

Alfond Youth and

Community Center,

126 North St.

Waterville, ME 04901

or follow this link

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