LeRoy (Lee) Eugene Dyer, the beloved husband of Joan (Kapitzke) Dyer, passed away on July 19 at Middlesex Hospital in Middletown, Conn., following a brief illness.
Lee was born in Bar Harbor, the son of the late Donald E. and Margaret H. Dyer, on Feb. 21, 1934. He was a resident of Middletown since 1970. Lee was educated in the Bar Harbor schools, where he was a three-sport athlete and was very proud of his baseball feat of striking out 22 batters in a nine-inning game. He went on to graduate from Bowdoin College, majoring in political science, in 1956. He played football and baseball for the Polar Bears and still holds the record for most strikeouts in a game at 15. In addition to being elected captain of the baseball team in his senior year, he was also elected permanent president of his class at Bowdoin. In 2014, Lee wrote a book, “BAH HAHBAH: Growing up in Bar Harbor in the 1940s and 1950s.”
Lee was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army and served on active duty for six months at Fort Sill, Okla. After graduation, he remained in the Army reserve for eight years, attaining the rank of captain. In 1957, Lee was scouted by the Milwaukee Braves organization and signed a contract to play baseball professionally. A left-handed pitcher, he played for the Waycross Braves in the Georgia-Florida League, a minor league affiliate of Milwaukee at the time. He was honored in the Hall of Fame at Mount Desert Island High School for his sports career. In 2005, he was inducted into the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame.
In 1958, Lee married the love of his life, Joan, a teacher from Meriden, Conn. They met in 1957 when she was on vacation in Maine and Lee was a lifeguard at Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor. They began their educational careers together when Lee accepted a position as a social studies teacher and assistant football coach at Cony High School in Augusta. Returning to Connecticut, Lee taught in the Meriden school system and then in Middlefield, later to be joined with Durham as Regional School District 13. Lee became principal of Memorial School in Middlefield and shortly after regionalization, also assumed the principalship of Strong School in Durham. He was promoted to assistant superintendent for the district by Howard Kelley and, after a short sojourn into business, Lee went on to serve the city of Norwalk as the director of reading and language arts. He became East Haddam’s superintendent of schools in 1979 and then, served the town of Portland as its superintendent from 1985-1994. Upon his retirement, the Portland Board of Education honored Lee by naming the high school baseball field “LeRoy E. Dyer Field.”
Lee was a member of St. Pius X church and the director of the St. Pius choir for over 10 years. He came from a musical family with his mother an accomplished pianist and organist while his father played the saxophone. Lee played clarinet and sax and was teaching himself the banjo. Lee was an avid golfer and played with his son, Tom, for many years in the Middlefield league. He bowled duck pins with his son, Lee, for many years as well, and enjoyed numerous trips and getaways with his beautiful daughter, Sherri, her husband, Eric, and his adored grandchildren, Oliver and Owen; activities that brought him so much pleasure. He loved the Red Sox (had a tryout with them in 1956), the New York Giants and was an avid UConn fan. He also had a flair for poetry and used verse as inspiration during his educational career.
In addition to his BA degree, Lee held a master’s degree from Central Connecticut in education and a Sixth Year Certificate of Advanced Study from the University of Hartford. Lee was active in the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce, where he served on the board of directors and headed the Business-Education Committee before his retirement. He was also a proud member of the Connecticut Association of School Superintendents and was honored as superintendent emeritus for his contributions to the organization.
Lee will be remembered for his professionalism, his patience, his quiet, unassuming manner, his dry sense of humor, his compassion for people and his smile. He was devoted to his dear wife and family and enjoyed life to the fullest. He is survived by his best friend and loving wife, Joan; his sister, Deborah, of Bar Harbor; his son, LeRoy (Lee) of Middletown; son, Thomas and his partner, Diana Payne of Middletown; and daughter, Sharon and husband, Eric, and grandsons, Oliver and Owen of Slingerlands, N.Y., as well as several nieces and nephews. He also leaves a son, James Higgins and his wife, Valorie, a daughter, Jean Rundle (deceased) and her husband, Lynn, from a previous marriage. He was predeceased by a brother, LTC Donald Dyer Jr., and wife, Marion, of Bar Harbor.
Calling hours will be on Thursday, July 25, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Biega Funeral Home, 3 Silver St., Middletown, Conn. A Mass of Christian burial celebrating Lee’s life will be held Friday at 11 a.m. at St. Pius X Church, 310 Westfield St., Middletown, Conn. Interment will take place in his family plot at Ledgelawn Cemetery, Bar Harbor, on a later date. Donations in Lee’s memory can be made to any veterans organization of choice to honor our servicemen and women. To share memories or express condolences online, please visit www.biegafuneralhome.com.