Healing Hands: Ron Lemire
celebrates three decades in the healing arts.
After Mork from Ork, the sitcom character played by Robin Williams made his improbable journey to Boulder, Colo. In 1978 he may have crossed paths with Ron Lemire whose own journey through time and space is almost as extraordinary.
The 58 year old Scarborough resident has 33 years of experience in various healing techniques and, through extensive first-hand apprenticeship, has studied with some of the grandfathers of holistic medicine and Eastern health practitioners. With early roots in engineering studies, Lemire says he has been a student of mechanics and structure since the very beginning.
A college boxer and runner, Lemire graduated from Maine Maritime Academy in 1972 with a Bachelor of Science degree in marine engineering. He left the shores of Castine and worked his way up the nautical ladder-from an able seaman to a chief engineer- on tug boats and seismographic vessels. He spent nearly three years out at sea earning enough money to pursue what would be a life-long passion.
“Everything I learned about the structure of a ship and how its systems worked seemed to be bringing me closer and closer to something more important. My interests began to transfer my knowledge of the structure of ship design to the structure of suspension mechanics applied to the human body. They were so similar and obvious,”
he says, “comparing the controls, electrical systems and engine of a ship to be the brain, nervous system and stomach-respectively- of a human body.”
In 1977, astronomers discovered an asteroid in the heavens and appropriately named it Chiron after the half-man and half-horse centaur of Greek mythology. Lemire says Chiron was an herbalist, a practitioner of medicine and healer/teacher of such notables as Achilles and Hercules. As Chiron sailed across the sky so too did Lemire, traveling from a life on the sea to a life in Boulder, Colorado, where he says a Renaissance movement was beginning to take shape.
“Chiron came into the public sphere at the same exact time this Renaissance of alternative medicine and lifestyles, started to emerge in America,” he says. Lemire remembers yoga centers, bodywork clinics such as Chiropractics, Acupuncture and Structural Integration, healthfood stores, martial art dojos etc. beginning to emerge around the late 70’s and says the age of Chiron found its hub in Boulder, Colorado.
“Never in my life had I imagined such a place. There was so much color, art, music, juggling, freedom and life- I was hooked on Renaissance,” he says.
He studied acupuncture and oriental philosophy, homeopathy and herbalism, Yoga and Tai Chi, among others.
He recalls watching a movie of that era called”Pumping Iron” with body-builder Arnold Scharzenegger. Lemire says he made a realization upon watching Mr. Universe trying to take a sip of coffee.
“Arnold tried to bring the cup to his mouth but his forearms and biceps were so pumped, that he had to bend over utilizing his upper back, head and neck muscles to perform what is really a simple task. Arnold was a role model for the structure of a male body and functionally it was inefficient. I studied, observed and realized that strength and fitness can come without these top-heavy frames. The Eastern world was beginning to change our perceptions of fitness completely,” he says.
Lemire began training in Aikido, Tai Chi and other forms of martial arts. He did finally get his “black belt”, training later in life with his sensei Bryan LaBrecque at Kosho Karate, in Biddeford, Maine. He also studied meditation and yoga as an integral part of his daily lifestyle.
Lemire moved to Florida to apprentice with Professor Tomezo Hoshino, who developed a method of pain relief soft-tissue hand massage technique. Professor Hoshino was known internationally and it was a special honor to apprentice directly under his tutelage. While in Florida, he also graduated from the Florida School of Massage in Gainesville, where he received his massage therapy license.
“Alternative medicine was beginning to blossom, and I was right in the middle of things, learning from the lineage teachers,” he says.
Lemire says he began studying the foundations of alternative medicine in America with the teachers who would later be looked upon as the grandfathers and grandmothers of the Healing Arts movement. While in Boulder, Lemire studied structural awareness principles from Ida Rolfe’s Guild and a related movement awareness system of Moshe Feldenkrais both of which became known Institutions of today. He apprenticed with known herbalist Kim Stearns, founder of Green Mountain Herbs, William LeSassier and Lakota medicine man Dik Darnell.
After his training with Professor Hoshino, Lemire returned to Colorado and opened a Hoshino Therapy Clinic in Boulder. More and more he began to teach others and work on his own patients when, in late 1979, a patient of his had a special request that would shape the next stage of Lemire’s life.
“He asked me if I would treat his friend for some back problem he was having. His friend turned out to be John Denver,” Lemire says.
Folk singer, songwriter, nature guru and poet laureate of Colorado John Denver met with Lemire in late 1979 and Lemire says the two of them hit it off. Denver was working on the Windstar Foundation, the Colorado-based environmental education think tank, co-developed by Tom Crum who also acted as John’s on road Security. Tom was needed at Windstar and John asked Lemire if he would replace Tom on the road. “I was head of security and personal health director.” Lemire says, laughing.
But to Denver, holistic health and well being were no joke as he took Lemire on tour across the country for the better part of a decade. Lemire traveled with a full kitchen and cooked daily for John, the band and management. Cooking was no problem for Lemire, who says he studied macrobiotic nutrition with Michio and Aveline Kushi, the founders of the Kushi Institute health clinic that later became the “East-West Foundation”. Michio is the author of several books but one book in particular; “The Macrobiotic Way” has a forward by John Denver and tells the story of the part Lemire played on the road.
“All of the health food stores in America were influenced by Michio Kushi. Vitamin pill stores were transformed into grainaries,” Lemire says.
Lemire set up his portable three burner Coleman fuel stove and laid out his ingredients in the corner of every hotel room Denver occupied. It was usually the presidential suite.
Throughout the course of a decade Lemire says health food stores grew increasingly more common, but in the beginning it was oftentimes a hassle to find a shop with the right foods necessary for the diet Lemire made Denver adhere to.
In many cities Lemire was able to shop in healthfood stores before they opened. With complimentary passes to the shows, bartering was never better. “It was great, I had a blank check and could buy anything I wanted and with complimentary tickets I made a lot of long lasting friends.”
As a self proclaimed “fly on the wall” to the unfolding music scene of the 1970’s Lemire was acquainted with a host of famous figures including Burl Ives, Buckminster Fuller, Steve Miller, Christopher Cross, Walter Becker of Steely Dan, Jimmy Ibbotson of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Jimmy Buffet, Bobby Mason, Goldie Hawn, James Galway, Jack Nicholson and many more….
But the tours ended and after the years spent on the road Lemire migrated to Hawaii, where he met his wife Christina. The two married in Bar Harbor in 1990 and have two daughters, Sophia 17 and Lily 13.
Raising his family, Lemire took a job as a structural therapist and movement coach for the Indiana Pacers basketball team. He says he was able to help Reggie Miller with his ankle sprain, Rick Smits with knee problems and worked with many team members with visualizations in foul shooting.
“With Reggie,” Lemire says,” conventional medicine couldn’t treat the problem. There was a lot of swelling and the fluids were blocked and stagnant. It took a little bit of digging and allowing for fluids to drain properly and before long Miller was back on his feet with confidence.” In that 1992-93 season, the Pacers went on to the playoffs for the first time in their franchise history.
In the following years Lemire says he began to use his training in Cranial-Sacral Therapy; an Osteopathic practice that is now popular with therapist around the world, “where the practitioner addresses the fluid medium of the body with subtle manipulation to restore, “balance and harmony” to the nervous system”, Lemire says.
Using this technique as well as the many others he learned in his 33 years of practicing alternative modalities, Lemire currently works at a Portland office and from his home, treating patients with chronic and acute pain, as well tune ups for athletes and teaches preventive care for the body and mind. His wife Chris works as a nurse and he says his biggest challenge at this stage in his life is cooking for his family.
“My girls don’t like my cooking,” he says, laughing. “But they eat it. They understand I use food to strengthen the body and mind. Every aspect of your health can be tracked to what you eat and how you breathe, move and cultivate a positive attitude. ”