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Obituary of Paul Gorham
Cheshire - Paul K. Gorham, loving husband, father, brother, coach and tremendous friend, passed away Saturday, June 9, after a long and courageous battle with lung disease. He was 57.
He was born in Portland, Maine, the sixth of seven children to the late John S. and Helen F. (Honan) Gorham.
He was a 1979 graduate of South Portland High School, where he was a phenomenal three-sport athlete, excelling in and captain of his football, baseball and basketball teams. His high school athletic career reached its pinnacle when the undefeated Red Riots and Coach Bob Brown went on to win the 1979 State Basketball Championship, defeating Presque Isle 102-58. That team was eventually inducted into the Maine Basketball Hall of Fame in 2017.
“Paul never gave less than 100 percent, whether it was practice or a game--always a great example for teammates and younger players,” said coach and mentor, Bob Brown.
“As a coach I was fortunate to have him on my teams for three years and my son (Brett) was even more fortunate to have him as a lifelong friend.
“Paul the athlete, the coach, and more importantly the person who showed unbelievable courage in adversity will be greatly missed.”
Mr. Gorham was a man of few words. If brevity is indeed the soul of wit, then Paul Gorham was the wittiest guy in town.
“I drove Paul to the football office at UNH when he was a senior to talk about a scholarship,” recalled his cousin Dan Marshall. “When he came back I asked, how’d it go? He answered ‘Full boat. Let’s go.’”
And with that full football scholarship to the University of New Hampshire, Mr. Gorham launched a stellar career as a tight end, garnering All-Yankee Conference status in his junior and senior years.
And his good fortune continued. While at UNH, Mr. Gorham met his future wife, Noreen O’Malley, to whom he has been married for 29 years, raising two amazing children, Matthew and Emma.
“I hit a homerun when I married her,” he once confided to a friend, as she cared for him during a particularly difficult period of health issues.
Following graduation in 1984, Mr. Gorham began his long career as a college football coach, both as head coach and assistant, starting out at the University of New Hampshire, followed by University of New Haven, Brown University, Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn. and two stints with the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he was most recently employed.
“Paul was tough, honest, competitive and a tremendously principled human being,” said University of Massachusetts head football coach Mark Whipple. “He was a true friend that could always be trusted and always had my back no matter what the situation.”
Over the years, Mr. Gorham collected and preserved friendships like an art dealer treasures masterpieces. He was unfailingly loyal and knowledgeable, always the man to consult on life’s big decisions. On any given day, he would be as likely to be chatting with a friend from Little League as he would the dozens of fellow coaches and players he’d worked with along the way.
“He was called the Big Cat, unique only to Paul and his friends,” said Brown University head coach Phil Estes. “As a UNH Wildcat, he was bigger than life, an incredible athlete with a great wit and sharp with his tongue. Never try to outsmart him.
“The measure of a man is how he responds to adversity. Paul fought. Like the Big Cat.”
Mr. Gorham is survived by his wife, Noreen, son Matthew and daughter Emma; sister Margaret E. McCabe, of Dedham, Mass.; brother John Gorham of Dedham, Mass.; sister Mary Beth and her husband Larry Benoit of Cape Elizabeth, Maine; sister Jo-Anne of Freeport, Maine; and sister Kathryn and her husband Paul Connelly, of Scituate, Mass.; and dozens of much-loved cousins, nieces and nephews.
A memorial Mass will be said on Monday, June 18 at 11 a.m. at St. Bridget Church in Cheshire, Conn., to be followed by a Celebration of Life at the Wallingford Country Club in Wallingford, Conn., at 3 p.m. All are welcome. The Alderson-Ford Funeral Home of Cheshire, 615 South Main Street is in charge of arrangements.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to The Given Limb Foundation at givenlimb.org.
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