When beloved, retired professor Dr. Nelson Madore passed away Christmas Eve, the Thomas community began sharing memories and messages of gratitude for his wisdom, guidance, and friendship. Alumni, faculty, and colleagues honored his 40 years of teaching and advising, plus his legacy of civic and military service – all of which created a hugely impactful, meaningful life.
Raised on a farm in Maine’s Aroostook County, Nelson built a strong work ethic and deep sense of caring. “He felt bad when teachers would punish him and his friends if they spoke French,” recalls wife Paula (Franzen) M.B.A. ’93, P’04. “Throughout his life, if he felt anyone was ridiculed or made to feel unworthy, Nelson spoke up.”
After high school, he enlisted in the Army and eventually became a Green Beret, Army Ranger/Paratrooper, and member of the 101st Airborne Division. He was one of the first to go into Vietnam and even sat with President Kennedy to share his perspective that a war there would be unwinnable. For years, he was a military advisor, and was even picked up from campus by a military helicopter one afternoon.
At Thomas, Nelson taught history, management, and government. From his time teaching and advising many groups, such as fraternities and sororities like Alpha Gamma Delta, to his involvement in Waterville, including as the city’s mayor, he became larger than life in students’ eyes. They inspired him, too, says Paula. “He was like a father teaching a child to ride a bicycle with training wheels and then pridefully watching when the child removed them and peddled off by themselves.”
Sara (Delgado) Languet ’95 recalls a lesson that embodied Dr. Madore. “The first step in knowing how to be a good supervisor, he said, is to know people’s full names – and connect with them in a way that demonstrates care and respect.”
“Nelson’s impact centered around his caring demeanor, unrelenting support, and trusted advice,” adds Kellie (James) Guarino ’92, M.B.A. ’98. “He observed and listened, and his soft-spoken words were always heartfelt.”
“Few people can match his contributions to service,” shares friend and retired faculty Al Souza. “He was very caring, a good listener, and a loving family man.”
“The thousands of students he impacted is undeniable,” says CJ McKenna ’04, M.S. ’09. “Most impressive is the positive influence he had on us, even after graduation. There is an unspoken, mostly unattainable Dr. Madore bar that we all strive for every day.”
The College is working with alumni to host a celebration of Nelson’s life during Homecoming and Family Weekend. The tentative date is Saturday, October 16. Stay tuned to social media and Terrier Tracks, the College’s monthly email, for more information.
*This story was originally published in the Winter 2021 edition of the Thomas magazine. View the full magazine here.