When Bill Fletcher was the assistant principal and athletic director at Brewer High School, one of his responsibilities was “Saturday school,” a session for students who had misbehaved.
Former Brewer High principal Jerry Goss remembered there were two boys who lived on Route 9, quite far from the high school. They told Fletcher they really wanted to go fishing and asked if they could avoid Saturday school.
“He told them he would cancel their Saturday school as long as there were two trout sitting on his desk on Monday morning,” Goss said. “When he got to his desk on Monday, there were four trout on it.”
That epitomized Fletcher, a longtime teacher, coach, athletic administrator and the site director of the Maine Principals’ Association Eastern Maine basketball tournaments at the Bangor Auditorium for 26 years.
The Milo native died Saturday at the age of 88.
“They don’t come any better than Bill Fletcher,” Goss said. “He was as solid as a rock. He worked hard, and he had a heart of gold.”
Goss said that when Fletcher worked for him, he never had to worry.
“He handled things perfectly under calm, controlled conditions. He would always find a way to get things done,” Goss said.
The Saturday school fishing story was a perfect example.
“Fishing was important to those kids, and he gave them a way out. Just for that one day, it solved the issue,” Goss said.
Dick Durost, who retired Sunday as the executive director of the Maine Principals’ Association, worked with Fletcher at Penobscot Valley High School in Howland.
Fletcher later become an athletic administrator at Falmouth, Dexter and Brewer, and directed the tournaments. Durost also officiated several sports before moving to the MPA.
He dealt with Fletcher in several capacities.
“He never got flustered,” Durost said. “He was always under control. I never saw him get upset with kids or people. He really enjoyed being around people.”
Durost said Fletcher was always accommodating and friendly in their interactions.
“And he had a great sense of humor. He had a really dry wit,” Durost added.
That sense of humor and his unflappable nature served Fletcher well as he was able to disarm potential conflicts.
Peter Webb, the former longtime state basketball commissioner, was Fletcher’s assistant coach with the Mattanawcook Academy boys basketball team in Lincoln.
“When I first went to work there as a new teacher, Bill was a major help to me,” Webb said. “He was an outstanding individual. He is one of those people you never heard anybody say anything but good things about him.”
Webb said he Fletcher did an exceptional job overseeing the basketball tournaments.
“He organized the help and managed the help and everybody who worked for him admired him,” Webb said. “With all the issues at such a big event, he was always able to handle them and things went very smoothly.”
Webb said Fletcher was a good athlete at Milo High School, from which he graduated in 1948.
“Milo was really something in those days. They had outstanding [basketball] teams year after year,” Webb said.
He offered that Fletcher was an outstanding golfer, and a humble one.
“You would never know it [from him]. Other people talked about how good he was. Bill was not a ‘me’ guy,” Webb said.
Fletcher attended Springfield College and earned a degree in physical education. He then obtained a master’s degree from the University of Maine and a Council for the Advancement of Standards in higher education certification in school administration.
As the boys basketball coach at Mattanawcook Academy, he led the Lynx to the Eastern Maine Class L championship in 1956. He also coached football and baseball there.
Fletcher earned a number of prestigious honors, including induction into the Maine Basketball Hall of Fame in 2018 and a spot in the Maine Sports Legends’ Hall of Honors in 2011.
The MPA Hall of Excellence honoree was named the Maine Interscholastic Athletic Directors Association Athletic Director of the Year in 1988 and earned the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators’ Association Distinguished Service Award recipient in 1996.
Steve Vanidestine began his tenure as the athletic director at Bangor High School in 1984 when Fletcher was the AD at Brewer.
“He was a tremendous help to me,” Vanidestine said. “We used to travel to AD conferences together. He was a classy guy. Everybody liked Bill. He was really level-headed.”