Ellery “Arms” Labbe, a long-time Fort Kent businessman and community volunteer will be presented with the University of Maine at Fort Kent's Distinguished Service Award at the University's 131st Commencement on Saturday, May 18, for his years of service to the people of his community and throughout the state.
Labbe, originally from Wallagrass, Maine, has called Fort Kent his home since graduating from high school in 1954. His father worked for the Maine Highway Department; his mother operated a ‘Mom & Pop' store in Wallagrass. He has one sibling, Emery ‘Legs' Labbe. Labbe married Muriel Cyr in 1954. Together, they raised five children.
Mr. Labbe worked for 24 years as a non-commissioned officer with the Maine Army National Guard. In 1976, he purchased Nadeau's House of Furniture, a company that had been in business since 1882. When purchased, the business was a hardware and sporting goods store, which also sold caskets and liquid propane gas. Labbe sold all but the furniture and appliance portion of the business over the years, working with and teaching his sons the business. Together, they built a solid reputation for customer service around the state.
With the family business well-established, Labbe turned his attention to several civic organizations.
Labbe has been a central figure in the Fort Kent Lions Club for more than 50 years. He is best known for his character Ti Joe in the popular “Lions Minstrel Show.”
Labbe served as president of the Lion's Club in 1968. He later became involved with the local Senior Citizens Club, where he chaired the membership committee. Under his leadership, the club's membership grew from 147 to more than 800 within a four-year period; an accomplishment of which he is very proud.
Among his other civic activities, Labbe was the first president of the Fort Kent Senior College, an organization offers a range of courses and activities to area seniors, and he was chair of the Finance Board for the St. Louis church.
In 2012, Labbe was named as Fort Kent's “Citizen of the Year.” He stated at that time: “Only in Fort Kent could I have lived life the way I have. I love the people of this area and I have gotten to meet a lot of them over the years.”
Now enjoying his retirement, Labbe still is active filling-in for his son with his flooring business. He also enjoys golfing with friends and spending time with his grandkids.