John's Story

BRUNSWICK - John Richard Brassil's remarkable life ended early on the morning of May 15. A dedicated and respected educator, John devoted his career to helping students develop a lifelong love of learning. He was known for his strong character, sharp wit, and unwavering commitment to quality education, and was a loving and supportive husband, father, stepfather, grandfather, and brother.

John was born in Cambridge, MA on July 22, 1949, the son of John Edward Brassil and Rita Finn Brassil. He grew up in Wellesley, MA and West Hartford, CT and moved to Maine to attend Colby College. After graduating with a BA in English in 1971, he taught for two years at Lincoln Academy in Newcastle before earning his MFA in English at the University of New Hampshire. There he developed a close friendship with professor Donald Murray, who influenced his teaching and writing throughout his career.

In 1974, John accepted a position teaching English at Mt. Ararat High School in Topsham, where he led a distinguished career until his retirement in 2010. After leaving public school teaching, he taught for three additional years at John Bapst Memorial High School in Bangor. His influence in the classroom was profound; many of his students remember his enthusiasm for literature, his dedication to and respect for each student writer, and his ability to command attention by standing on a desk.

In addition to teaching, John served as President of the Maine Council for English Language Arts and Chief Negotiator for the Merrymeeting Educators Association. He also worked extensively with The College Board, writing questions for and scoring Advanced Placement (AP) English exams, co-authoring textbooks, and traveling throughout the US, Canada, and Asia to help American and foreign educators create and refine AP English programs at their schools.

From a young age, John played guitar and developed a fierce love of the Beatles and the Kingston Trio. He was also a passionate hockey player, coach, and fan who closely followed the Hartford Whalers and regularly attended Bowdoin-Colby College games. In his younger years, John was a competitive cyclist and continued to enjoy bicycling throughout his life, collecting and building classic Raleighs.

John is survived by his wife Claudette Lachance Brassil of Brunswick; his daughter Claire Brassil of Newcastle; his stepchildren, Cory Duggan and his wife Kaitlyn of Islesford, and Jessica Allen and her husband Geoff of Buxton; his sisters Ellen Brassil and Elizabeth Spinella of West Hartford, CT, and Catherine Luby of Dallax, TX; and his brother Robert Brassil of Dallas, TX, along with his niece and many nephews. He felt especially blessed to be called "Pops" by his loving grandchildren Jacob, Bode and Emma, and was often surprised by how special he was to them.

A celebration of John's life will be held in August.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in John's name to the American Cancer Society or to Community Health and Nursing Services (CHANS) at 60 Baribeau Drive, Brunswick, ME. Messages may be posted on the Brackett Funeral Home website.
Published in Bangor Daily News
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