Calais – Daniel Lucien Lacasse, 60, passed away after a brief illness at Calais Regional Hospital on January 31, 2017. Dan was born on August 28, 1956 in Lewiston, the oldest of 8 boys born to Lorraine and Arthur Lacasse. He grew up in a closely-knit French-Canadian neighborhood in Auburn in a 3-story apartment down the hill from his grandparents’ house and St. Louis Church. His father, Arthur, looked after maintenance for all of the Church buildings and taught his children to work along with him. Dan always said that the best gift his father ever gave his children was the ability and willingness to work. His mother raised eight boys and cooked. A lot.
After graduating from St. Dominic’s High School in Lewiston he got a scholarship to attend Bates College. He lived at home during his undergraduate years so that he could help his father with the family business. He was a productive member of the debate team and had an opportunity to debate against teams from Harvard and West Point. This experience gave him a life-long skill for argumentation. He graduated with highest honors in his department and always said that Bates College offered a unique opportunity for students in the Lewiston/Auburn area to get an inexpensive, quality education.
Cross pen in hand, he then entered the University of Maine Law School in Portland where he got a work-study job in the bookstore and was a clerk for his future wife, Becky Van Voorhis. He often said “’It was the hardest work I ever did in my whole life, working for you”. In the summer between his second and third years of law school he was required to find a job in the legal field. Having procrastinated during his exams he answered an ad that John Churchill had placed looking for a recruit in Calais. He took the job without knowing where Calais was. He and Becky married in Gorham in 1982 and he then went to work in Calais for Brown, Tibbetts, Churchill and Romei where he developed a practice of real estate, municipal and probate work, along with a specialty in bankruptcy which was rare in Washington County. Dan has helped countless grateful people get free of medical bills, foreclosure and other financial misfortunes.
In the 1990’s the law firm disbanded and Dan and Becky set up a home office on Washington Street with two young boys to raise. Dan then took over the responsibility as primary counsel for the Eastern Maine Electric Company where Co-op members in rural areas looked forward to his attendance at zone meetings and always enjoyed his antics as emcee at the annual meeting. He was a dedicated advocate for the Co-op and understood it’s operation.
Dan served as a trustee of the Calais Free Library and served on the Calais School Board during a tumultuous period when the town became divided over the building of a new school. He was recalled from office by one vote and always liked to say “the voter has spoken”. He was very active in his Immaculate Conception Church community; he and Becky were always available to work in the church kitchen and loved the chaos and stress of planning a church supper and watching contented friends and neighbors enjoy their meal.
Probably foremost of his community endeavors was his long-time affiliation with the Calais Lions Club. He was a valuable member of the club for many years and was always instrumental in their efforts to raise money for the less fortunate. He was instrumental in making the Lions’ weenie wagon events happen every year, ordering and organizing the food and slinging hot dogs and fries with enthusiasm. He was also involved for many years with the Santa’s Helper program and his boys were brought up assisting him with the distribution of these gifts.
Being the oldest of eight boys, he understood how to raise sons and taught them the value of diligence and hard work. He loved taking them to a Cobscook State Park campsite overlooking the ocean and cooking over a smoky campfire. He loved orchestrating a huge Thanksgiving dinner, with family and the kids’ friends circling through the kitchen. He loved sitting on the front porch at Becky’s family camp in southern Maine. He loved nothing more than presiding over a political or religious (or whatever) debate with his brothers and their wives. Those gatherings were priceless.
Dan and Becky had many interests, including catering for benefits, church suppers and weddings, cooking international foods, preserving and canning sauces and pickles, driving endlessly around Washington County, cooking on their kitchen wood cookstove and renovating their Victorian home. He collected coins and hot sauces and especially loved apples, having grown up picking them in orchards in the Lewiston area and becoming familiar with Becky’s father’s orchard in Gorham. A car ride in the fall included many stops along the road to test out the wild apples on trees that he had been watching all summer.
Dan is survived by his parents Arthur and Lorraine Lacasse of Portland, his wife of 34 years Rebecca Lacasse of Calais, sons Matthew Lacasse and Elizabeth Ashley of Eastport and Dominic Lacasse and his wife Tiffany of Halifax, Nova Scotia; his brothers Gerry Lacasse and his wife Rose of Harrison, Normand and Charmaine Lacasse of Jay, James and Faye Lacasse of Westbrook, Fr. Andre-Joseph Lacasse, O.P. of Columbus, Ohio, Jeffrey Lacasse and Diana DeGrange of Malden, Mass, Stephen and Amy Lacasse of Plymouth, Mass and Brian and Jennifer Lacasse of Sandwich, Mass. Also very dear to him are his nieces and nephews, Sarah Lacasse and Jason Vallieres of Bath and Amelia Lacasse and fiancé Al Corliss of Lincolnville and their newly born son Alder, Velvet and Victoria Lacasse, Brandon Bailey, Michelle and Jacob Lacasse, and Lily and Lucas Lacasse. He will also be much missed by Becky’s brothers Bill and Christine Van Voorhis and their son Ryan, and Dan Van Voorhis (his football betting buddy) and his wife Theresa and her children. He will also be missed by long-time friends John and Lorraine Mitchell and their extended family, by the legal community, by his friend Sharon Yates of Lubec and by many Lions, current and retired.
Dan was always more than willing to extend help to anyone who needed it but found it difficult to accept help for himself. His family now appreciates all that you in this community have done to help us during this difficult time. Aside from your visits, emails and Facebook messages of support, we also appreciated those pies, casseroles, soups and fresh scallops to say nothing of those much-anticipated Italian sandwiches… We have great friends, thank you. We also appreciate the help we have received from our long-time friend, Dr. Laurie Churchill, from Dr. William Castrucci of Brewer, and the CRH home health staff, especially Heidi Allen. The family would especially like to thank the Calais Regional Hospital nurses who looked after Dan in his last days, especially Maureen Hayward and Beth Boomer.
In lieu of flowers, Dan would appreciate donations to the J.D. Johnson Scholarship Fund, care of the Calais Lions Club, PO Box 1280, Calais, ME 04619. This scholarship in memory of Dan’s friend Lion, J.D. Johnson enables kids to go to summer camp.
At Dan’s request, there will be no visiting hours. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated 10:00 a.m., Saturday, February 11, 2017 at Immaculate Conception Church, Calais Ave., Calais with a reception following in the church hall. A committal service will be announced in the spring. Arrangements by Mays Funeral Home, Calais & Eastport.