Wilfred “Gus” LeBlanc experienced many highlights both in his career as a high school sports coach and as an educator, coaching teams in many different sports and serving as a teacher and administrator in Androscoggin County schools.

Gus LeBlanc Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal file

LeBlanc died Friday surrounded by family and friends. He was 71.

Lewiston Public Schools shared LeBlanc’s passing in a post on Facebook.

“His teachings will live in and through us forever,” the post read. “We should all hope that we can positively impact as many lives as he did. We send our best thoughts and prayers to the LeBlanc family.”

The Old Town native grew up in a Franco-American family. He played football for Old Town High School then as a college student at the University of Maine in Orono. He graduated from UMO in 1975 with a bachelor’s degree in history before earning a master’s degree in guidance.

He began his career teaching social studies in Old Town, where he worked for five years before moving on to Dexter Area High School.


He spent three of his seven years at Dexter as the guidance counselor and then spent the other four years as the assistant principal, athletic director and head football coach. Under his guidance, the football team became a top contender in Class D high school football.

In 1984, he led the Dexter Tigers to its first undefeated season, earning its first state title, also a first for him. He won a Little Ten Conference Coach of the Year award that year.

In 1987 he accepted the principal position at Leavitt Area High School, moving his career to central Maine. Shortly after, he led the charge on new approaches to help teachers address high risk students, addressing issues such as emotional abuse, alcoholism at home, teenage pregnancy, date rape situations and incest. He also introduced programming to the school to raise awareness of those issues.

Coach Gus LeBlanc leads fullback Regan Cohen and quarterbacks Dylan Cook and Sam Luce in practice drills in July 2021 in Poland. LeBlanc died Friday at age 71. Anna Gouveia/Sun Journal file

LeBlanc came to the Lewiston education scene in the late 1990s as principal of Montello Elementary School. He later accepted the Lewiston High School principal job and immediately had to navigate the school through the loss of three Air Force Junior ROTC students in 2006 who died in a plane crash.

The Cessna 172 plane carrying 17-year-old Nicholas Babcock, 16-year old Teisha Loesberg and 15-year-old Shannon Fortier had crashed into the side of Barker Mountain in Newry. A federal report issued in 2007 determined that the crash was likely caused by pilot error.

He had to break the news of the deaths to each of the students’ families. In a 2013 interview with the Sun Journal, LeBlanc described it as “something that will stay with me for the rest of my life.”


Lewiston High School Athletic Director Jason Fuller was new to the school’s administrative staff at that time. He said LeBlanc was a tremendous leader and had a profound impact on how Fuller carries himself professionally and in his personal life.

“He was a great mentor and shaped a lot of the thoughts I have now,” Fuller said. “I was blessed to work with him, but more importantly, he became a great friend of mine. It’s going to be hard.”

While at the high school, he helped enact changes such as giving students more class time on subjects they are struggling in. He championed a controversial change to the school’s extracurricular eligibility policy, closing what he identified as loopholes that allowed student athletes to participate in sports despite failing many classes.

The changes required students to maintain an average of 70 or better in six courses, or five courses for freshmen. The measure was supported by staff and coaches but was considered controversial among parents and the public. The School Committee reconsidered the stricter policy several times while LeBlanc was there but ultimately never changed it. One committee member felt the policy tilted too far toward punishment and was unfair toward Black and English language learning students.

“Reflecting on what Gus blessed me with and shared with me over the years, up to just a few days ago, is absolutely priceless,” said Jake Langlais, Lewiston Public Schools superintendent. “He always answered the call, took the time to talk, and gave the soundest advice. I hope I can carry myself in a way that he would be proud, as an educational leader, as a man, as a friend, as a husband, and as a father. Cheers to a friend, a mentor, and a man I could only aspire to be like. We miss you already.”

LeBlanc left Lewiston and became the headmaster of Lee Academy in 2013, also chairing Lee’s board of English-speaking schools in South Korea and the Philippines. The school has boarding students from several Asian countries and LeBlanc traveled to recruiting fairs in Vietnam while he was headmaster.


LeBlanc returned to Lewiston High School briefly during the 2020-21 school year as the interim principal.

Since 2020, he had been leading the Poland Regional High School football team as head coach, receiving the 2022-23 Dick Mynahan Coach of the Year award.

“Gus can be hard, demanding,” Fuller said. “He’s a person of high expectations, but through that core is this man who’s so genuine, compassionate and caring … He wanted the best for everybody he ever came into contact with.”

Poland Regional High School Athletic Director Don King said LeBlanc brought that same passion and leadership when he took the job as head football coach at the school in 2020.

“He was a fantastic guy for our football program, which is still trying to get its feet on the ground,” King said. “He brought out the best in his kids, was able to meet every athlete in the place they were at. He meant a great deal to us and was a tremendous leader, not just for the kids but all the adults here, at Poland High School. It’s been a gift to work with him. He’s a special person.”

The many social media posts announcing LeBlanc’s passing were interspersed with comments from people throughout central Maine who held the man in the same high regard.


LHS teacher Sue St. Hilaire shared in a comment that LeBlanc was of immense influence in her decision to pursue a career in education.

“(He) saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself and encouraged and supported me when I decided to pursue education,” St. Hilaire said. “I will never be able to thank him enough for the opportunities he created for me along the way. He was an amazing man of integrity and grit who will be so missed.”

“He was the best educational leader and mentor to myself and so many others,” Dan Gish said in a post on Facebook. “Gus truly cared about kids to his core. We will miss you Gus.”

Comments to Gish’s post included Amy Bass and Peter Geiger who echoed his sentiments.

“His impact on Lewiston will be seen for generations,” Bass said.

“He was a lifelong friend and will be missed, but remembered with a smile,” Geiger said.

“It’s going to be an emotional toll on that entire community and the kids he worked with on a regular basis in the football program,” Fuller said of Poland High School. “He’s a foundational man that we lost, I think, and had such a tremendous impact on so many people. When you lose an icon like Gus, it’s shattering. He kind of has this immortality feeling to him. That’s always the way I looked at him. He was just this rock.”

Comments are not available on this story.