2016-06-17 / Front Page

Hussey never sat for long

The late boss of Hussey Seating Co. shared his impending mortality with wisdom, humor, grace
By Wm. Duke Harrington Staff Writer

Tim Hussey Tim Hussey KENNEBUNK — One of the leading lights of the greater Kennebunk community has gone out. Timothy B. Hussey, president and CEO of Hussey Seating Co. in North Berwick and former facilities chairman of the RSU 21 Board of Directors, described by some as the father of the current school building renovation project, died Monday, June 13, following a long battle with cancer.

Hussey, 59, documented his struggle on a moving blog entitled “Beating It: Tim’s journey in kicking cancer in the ass,” starting in August 2014 and continuing in 60 posts through his final entry on May 23, when he was released into hospice care.

In a May 10 post, he summed up his philosophy as he faced his imminent death – “Live fearlessly, know we are all one and connected, and don’t sweat the small stuff. Release yourself into the eternal Grace that is available to us all. I am not giving in, and I think I have figured out how to truly ‘beat it.’ Onward and Upwards, Savor the Moments, and Keep Buggering On!”

Hussey died at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston surrounded by his family.

“I have no words for this. It’s devastating,” said current RSU 21 chairman Maureen King, just hours after Hussey’s death. “No matter how much ‘advance’ notice you have, the death of a contemporary is always hard. Anything I say about Tim Hussey will be inadequate. He was a wonderful man who supported our local communities and public education with his time and his talents. His integrity and thoughtfulness permeated all his activities, both in public and with friends and acquaintances.”

Hussey was a sixth generation owner of Hussey Seating. Founded in 1835, the company employs 250 and makes seats for arenas and stadiums around the world, from Gillette Stadium right down to the type of stands used for Friday night basketball games at high school gymnasiums nationwide.

Hussey took over for his father, Philip W. Hussey Jr., as president of the company in 1995, became chief executive officer in 1996, and was elected to the company board in 2001. Passionate about both education and leadership, Hussey was chairman of Educate Maine and served on the Maine Development Foundation and the Maine Economic Growth Council in addition to his tenure on the RSU 21 board and his longtime support of numerous organizations and causes, including the United Way of York County.

Chris Robinson, director of marketing at Hussey Seating, said Monday the company will honor Hussey by creating the Timothy B. Hussey Leadership Fund in partnership with the Maine Community Foundation. The goal, he said, will be to use the fund to bring prominent speakers and experts in both education and leadership to Maine.

In addition to other honors during his life, Hussey received the Kenneth M. Curtis Leadership Award from the Maine Development Foundation and the Joel Stevens Community Spirit Award from the Kennebunk- Kennebunkport-Arundel Chamber of Commerce, and was inducted into the Junior Achievement Maine Business Hall of Fame.

His passing was recognized by both of Maine’s U.S. senators.

“The optimism, tenacity and good humor with which Tim battled his cancer was truly an inspiration and he will be greatly missed by all those who knew him,” Sen. Susan Collins said in a statement issued on Tuesday. “[He was a] remarkable, kind and intelligent leader with a deep commitment to our state and to his community.”

“Maine has lost an extraordinary business and community leader and a wonderful friend,” Sen. Angus King said. “Tim was a strong, steady and visionary leader who loved and valued his employees and who gave selflessly and generously to his community. Maine is a better place as a result of Tim’s caring and important work, and I will miss him terribly.”

According to King, Hussey was persuaded to join the former SAD 71 school board in 2008 and continued his service through the formation of RSU 21 and on the RSU board until he resigned in October 2014 as his cancer manifested.

“Tim may have been a CEO in his ‘real life’ but he was the consummate ‘just a board member’ on the school board,” King said. “He took on whatever tasks needed to be done and served for several years as the facilities committee chair. Tim was an integral participant of the new RSU’s long-range facilities plan process and the RSU strategic planning process. His careful and thoughtful decision-making strategies helped us get the first round of building renovation plans completed. His encouragement and dedication helped us finalize the plans approved by the voters in June 2015”

“Tim Hussey was one of a kind,” said Kevin Crowley, principal of the Mildred L. Day Elementary School in Arundel and a former interim superintendent of the district. “He had the vision to see where our school facilities needed to go and he had a practical no-nonsense approach to how we needed to present this to the voters so the project could move forward. He was courageous in his battle with cancer and a true champion of education in the Kennebunks and Arundel. He will be missed.”

“Our thoughts go out to Tim’s wife, Marcia, his three children, and the entire Hussey family,” Superintendent Katie Hawes said. “Tim’s time and dedication to our building renovation projects is unsurpassed. His legacy will live on as we realize safe and equitable facilities for all students in RSU 21.”

“In addition to working really diligently for the safety and security of the school kids, he was also very active in the community. His whole family, and he in particular, has been very generous,” Kennebunk Town Manager Barry Tibbetts said. “What we have now, and what is coming, is a direct result of his work, both in the spotlight and behind the scenes. He was just a really great guy.

“It’s a tremendous loss for everyone in the area,” Tibbetts said. “He was just a very proactive, energetic involved person. It’s always hard to see someone like that, someone so involved in the community to pass at such a young age.”

“Tim leaves behind an enviable legacy of corporate success and community leadership, yet without doubt he was committed to and enjoyed most to his role as a husband and father,” read a company statement issued early Monday. “He is survived by his wife Marcia; children Hannah, Philip and Olivia; mother Martha and siblings Anne, Jonathan and Richard; and the extended Hussey Family of which he was so proud.”

Funeral arrangements will be announced on the Hussey Seating webpage, www.husseyseating.com.

The company’s chief financial officer, Gary Merrill, will assume the role of president.

“I have every confidence that our team will overcome this loss and continue to manage this business successfully for the owners and shareholders,” Merrill said. “Tim was a very hands-on CEO, and this is his plan, his team, and we’re more determined than ever to see this business set up for continued prosperity well into its third century of operation.”

The story of Hussey’s battle with cancer, detailed in his own words, remains online at tbhusseyblog.wordpress.com.

“He did a really nice job chronicling how he worked through this at all different levels,” Tibbetts said. “He was a really smart guy and his blog is just really, really moving.

Staff Writer Duke Harrington can be reached at news@kennebunkpost.com.

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