Campus honors Gentile

15 years ago
UMPI, community bid farewell to teaching legend
By Kathy McCarty 
Staff Writer

    PRESQUE ISLE – A long-time educator who devoted much of her life to promoting physical fitness during her tenure at the University of Maine at Presque Isle, Caroline Gentile, died Sept. 19 at the age of 84.

    Born in Newton, Mass., on Jan. 24, 1924, the daughter of Gerardo and Donata Bucchelli Gentile, she attended high school there before going on to earn her bachelor’s degree from Sargent College, followed by a master’s from New York University. Additional graduate studies were completed at the University of Wisconsin and Columbia University.
    Gentile was hired in 1946 by Dr. Clifford O.T. Wieden to teach at the Aroostook State Normal School, where she helped build its Health, Physical Education and Recreation program. Though the school eventually changed names – it’s now the University of Maine at Presque Isle – Gentile’s interest in physical fitness never wavered. For over 54 years, Gentile served as an classroom teacher – in some cases teaching several generations of the same family over the course of her teaching career.
    In 1996 she was awarded an honorary doctorate in honor of her 50th year as a teacher.
    Over the years, Gentile taught thousands of students, served on hundreds of committees, influenced faculty and held numerous other positions. In 2000, she was inducted into the Eleventh Maine Women’s Hall of Fame. By 2003, she was inducted into the Maine Sports Legends Hall of Fame. And in 2006, MAHPERD honored her with its top distinction, the Highest Praise Award. In 2007, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award during the Presque Isle Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual dinner.
    Gentile officially retired from teaching in 2005. But UMPI remained dear to her heart. When it was decided a new physical fitness complex would be built at the University, Gentile stepped forward with a most generous donation — $500,000 to help build a new wellness center. The money was used toward completing the facility that now bears her name. In Jan. 2006, Local and state officials gathered at Gentile Hall to recognize her five decades of service to the campus, community and the state.
    At Gentile’s request, no formal funeral. The University will hold a memorial service and celebration of Gentile’s life at noon on Wednesday, Oct. 8, in Gentile Hall.