When Dan Rearick recently learned of his impending induction into the University of Maine Sports Hall of Fame, the former distance runner flashed a big smile, said his wife, Nancy.
“He’s not [in good health] and he knows what’s going on because he listens and he smiles,” Nancy Rearick said. “Every now and then he’ll come out with a statement that rings out.”
Dan Rearick, who graduated from UMaine in 1958 and set a school record in the mile (4 minutes, 13.9 seconds) in his final race for the Black Bears, is one of nine former UMaine athletes being inducted into the hall of fame on Sept. 8.
Rearick, who is bedridden, will be unable to travel to Orono from his New Brunswick home for the ceremony. Instead, Nancy Rearing, their daughter and other family members will be on hand to represent him.
“When he was in his days of glory in 1958, I was a freshman so I knew who he was but he did not know me,” admitted Nancy Rearick.
Two years later, former teammate Will Spencer introduced the couple, and they’ve been together ever since.
They had two children, Celinda Rearick-Crandall and Peter Rearick, and three grandchildren.
Both the Rearicks’ children also went to UMaine, with Celinda graduating in 1985 and Peter leaving school to join the Air Force.
Even after graduating from UMaine with degrees in civil engineering and mechanical engineering, Dan Rearick continued to run competitively. He ran in the 100th Boston Marathon in 1996.
He was a prototypical runner, according to his wife.
“That was his favorite part of the university was going to the field house to work out,” Nancy said. “He had two excellent coaches and they were very, very special in his life.”
One of them was longtime UMaine track coach Ed Styrna, whom the Rearicks would always make a point to visit during their trips to their camp on Long Lake in Harrison over the years.
“We would stop and visit coach Styrna in Orono on the way there on every trip,” Nancy said.
In addition to serving in the military from 1962-1970, Dan Rearick earned a master’s degree in Physiology of Exercise from Springfield College in 1973 before he and his wife relocated to New Brunswick.
Rearick was a member of three UMaine cross country teams that won New England and Yankee Conference titles (1955-1957), and served as captain of the indoor and outdoor track teams as a senior.
In 2005, doctors discovered in Daniel what Nancy called a faulty mitral valve, resulting in open-heart surgery. Rearick’s son and other family members help take care of him.
“He has never complained,” Nancy Rearick said. “This is the best place in the whole, wide world for Danny to be. He’s not isolated.”
UMaine is a big part of Rearick’s family. In addition to his children, his older brother, Chazz, also attended UMaine. Chazz’s grandson, Coltan Rearick Downey, is a current student.
The fitness industry has always been an important aspect of Rearick’s life, his wife said, and being on campus balancing athletics and studies kept him busy.
“We just enjoyed the University of Maine, big-time,” said Nancy, a retired teacher who spent 38 years working in education, teaching every level from preschool up to college.
Rearick, who ran 25 marathons after graduating from UMaine, did not hang up his shoes until the early 2000’s, his wife said, and even competed with the Air Force’s team during his eight years of service.