LAWRENCE ‘TIB’ THIBODEAU

Posted Sept. 25, 2008, at 11:17 p.m.

PRESQUE ISLE – Lawrence “Tib” A. Thibodeau, 89, died Dec. 29, 2004. He was born Oct. 11, 1915, in Caribou, of French speaking parents, Fred Thibodeau and Odianna (DeJardin) Gardner Thibodeau. Survived by his wife, Audrey (Bishop) Thibodeau; sisters, Dorothy Lee, Hilda Barrett, and Alyeene Anderson; his children, Berna “Bunny” Andrews, Ann Seitz, Lee and his wife, Holly, Don and his wife, Brenda; grandchildren, Beth, Amy, Jeff, Jennifer, Andy, Greg, Brian, Betsy, Brett, and Jack; and six great-grandchildren. After graduating from Caribou High School in 1933, he was a messenger for the Postal Telegraph, where he observed how potato sales were transacted to distant points in New York and other states by telegraph. In 1935, at the age of 20, Tib became the youngest person in the country to hold a broker’s license when he opened his own potato brokerage business in Caribou. He joined the firm of Bishop and Babin, one of Aroostook’s largest and respected potato firms in 1938. Shortly after marriage to Audrey Bishop in 1939, the firm sent him to a small farming community outside of Rochester, N.Y., where he helped develop a potato growing area that became known as “Little Maine.” After holding other agricultural-related jobs and working with Saint John River Valley farmers in northern Maine as an employee of the Federal Land Bank, Thibodeau was hired in 1943, by Maine Potato Growers (MPG) as a sales manager. After 15 years, he established his own potato sales firm, Maine Farmers Exchange (MFX). Also included among Mr. Thibodeau’s business interests were MFX Commodities established in 1975, of which he was President, and Green Thumb Farms in Fryeburg, owned and operated by his son and daughter-in-law, Don and Brenda Thibodeau, fulfilling his lifelong desire to be a farmer. In May of 1995, after 60 years in the potato business as a grower and a marketer, Tib retired from Maine Farmers Exchange and then continued to work in a consulting capacity until his death. Tib was recognized as an innovative industry leader throughout the United States. Among several distinguished awards, he was an advisor to the dean of the College of Agriculture, University of Maine; a member of Gov. James Longley’s Maine Economic Advisory Council; and a director of Rotary International. He was a director of the Bangor and Aroostook Railroad, and a member of the Future Farmers Advisory Committee. Thibodeau was honored with distinguished citizen awards by the University of Maine, the Boy Scouts of America, Future Farmers of America, the Aroostook County Farm Credit Service, the Presque Rotary Isle Club, and the Presque Isle Chamber of Commerce. He was elected to honorary life membership in the Potato Association of America. A memorial service will be held 11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 1, at the Saint Mary’s Catholic Church, Main Street, Presque Isle. In lieu of flowers, those who wish, may make a donation to The Old Presque Isle Firehouse Restoration Project, care of Presque Isle Historical and Cultural Center, P.O. Box 1262, Presque Isle, ME 04769. Arrangements in the care of Duncan-Graves, 30 Church St., Presque Isle.

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