Mill Veteran Keeps Pride Alive
Friends call him a “bridge builder,” connecting former mill workers and local youth. Others refer to him as an “ambassador between the past and present.” When it all boils down, George “Pete” Lamontagne is walking, talking history.
A 38-year mill veteran, Pete worked up the ranks and held a supervising position in Building 13-1 for multiple years. He saw “The Pepperell”, which is what workers would refer to the mills as, through the invention of the Vellux blanket, and was “the people’s manager” until both installations of textile manufacturing in Biddeford, West Point Stevens and Biddeford Textile, ceased production in 2009.
Now, Pete has made it his mission to perpetuate Pepperell’s manufacturing legacy by sharing historical anecdotes as well as his own experiences working at the mill.
Here’s one example: Over the past year, high school students participating in BHS National Honor Society tours were curious. “Who was that man on the first tour that took our pictures?” By year’s end, students became accustomed to seeing Pete on the tours like clockwork, lending words of encouragement and shaking students’ hands. BHS senior Tom Laverriere remarks, “Pete’s passion for the mills and their history is contagious…His excitement about the tours made me feel very welcome and even more proud to be a part of them.”
But, Pete does so much more than cheer youth on about their passion for Biddeford’s history. He shepherds both former employees of “The Pepperell” and local high school students to various tables at the Biddeford Mills Museum annual bean supper, facilitating conversations across generations. Pete breaks down the silence barriers and helps mill veterans realize their importance to this community, especially to the younger generations. Likewise, he helps youth realize their value in the mill redevelopment project and Biddeford as a whole.
The Pepperell Mill Campus community thanks Pete for his dedication and enthusiasm for Biddeford’s mills, all mill veterans, and future application of the space.
Pete serves as a member of the Board of Directors for the Biddeford Mills Museum, and was recently featured in the Journal Tribune for spearheading Biddeford Mills Museum tours with fellow mill veteran Don Guillerault. You can find the article here: http://www.journaltribune.com/articles/2012/08/13
Please share with us your stories of the mill – whether you formerly worked for Pepperell or enjoy exploring the complex today. Pass on the pride!