Longtime UMaine French professor passes away

Raymond Pelletier, longtime University of Maine French professor and former associate director of the Canadian-American Center, passed away on May 15 at the age of 80. 

Pelletier joined UMaine in 1979 as an assistant professor of education and Canadian studies and cooperating assistant professor of French. For more than 30 years, he taught many courses on the French Language, Canadian Studies, Francophone history and cultures, and French literature and business. He also took students and teachers on trips to Quebec and France. 

“He really cared about students,” says Susan Pinette, professor of modern languages and director of Franco American Programs at UMaine. “He knew how to provide structure and get students to strive while at the same time made them feel supported. He was a kind, devoted, generous teacher.”

As associate director of the Canadian-American Center, Pelletier played a crucial role in grant writing efforts. He also served as both vice president and president of the Maine Chapter of the American Association of Teachers of French, and as executive director, vice president and president of American Council for Quebec Studies. 

Canadian-American Center Director Frédéric Rondeau, recalls Pelletier “as extremely generous, welcoming, kind, and passionate about Québec and Franco-American cultures.”

“Ray’s pedagogical approach was all about immersion, and learning the language by discovering the culture,” he says. “Numerous students, faculty and K–12 educators have been inspired by the way he communicated his love of French-language novels and culinary arts of France and North America. He will be greatly missed’’ 

Pelletier earned many awards and accolades of the years, including the honor of lauréat from the the American Association of Teachers of French in 1994, as well as the 20/20 Vision Award from the Association for Canadian Studies in the United States and the Richard Williamson Award for Leadership in Language Education from the Foreign Language Association of Maine, both in 2009. 

Read more about Pelletier’s legacy in his obituary. A celebration of his life will be held from 4–6 p.m. on Thursday, June 1 at the University of Maine Buchanan Alumni House, 160 College Avenue. Gifts in his memory may be made to the Raymond J. Pelletier Scholarship, payable to the University of Maine Foundation, 2 Alumni Place, Orono.