Scarborough, ME -- With great sadness, we note the peaceful passing of John Blodgett Stebbins, age 85, on Thursday, July 25, 2013, after a well-fought 15-month fight against lung cancer. Originally from Niagara Falls, NY, he was a graduate of St. Paul’s School, NH (’46) and Harvard College (’50), and became a beloved educator in NY, VT, MA, and CT. He married the late Mary Emelie Tobias of Charleston, SC while in the Navy there. He is survived by his second wife, Janet Jones Stebbins of Scarborough, ME; his children, John B. Stebbins, Jr.(Willy) of Brockton, MA, George Stebbins of Craftsbury, VT, and Elizabeth Stebbins Torkelsen of Wilton, CT; four grandchildren – Alex, Ben, Emily, and Kristina; and two great-grandchildren – Bella and Chase.
John was passionate about his career as a teacher. Although he briefly tried school administration, he always preferred the classroom. Over the years, he taught subjects as diverse as astronomy, Latin, English and history. Despite his classical education and his ubiquitous bow ties, John never took himself too seriously.
As John would put it, he “festered as a youth” in Niagara Falls, NY where he was proud of his parents, Dr. Edward C. Stebbins and Hope Blodgett Stebbins, and his younger brother Ned, Edward C. Stebbins, Jr. Even so, at a tender age, he tried to run away, but only got as far as the corner because he was not yet allowed to cross the street by himself. Later, he fished coins out of the top of the American falls -- securely anchored by old clothesline. He had a permanent impact on brother Ned – having dropped a ball-peen hammer on his head from the tree-house. John drew pictures of horses, planes and trains at Maple Ave. School, then moved on to act in theater and play drums in the marching band at Deveaux School. When he missed an exam there, he was sent to St. Paul’s School, Concord, NH, (’46) where he learned discipline, crew, and Latin. After four merry years at Harvard College (’50), where he was a cartoonist for the Lampoon and a member of Hasty Pudding’s “Hairy Leg Chorus,” he emerged an English major, which prepared him perfectly for his next four years in the Navy in the exotic port of Charleston, SC.
His time in the Navy was memorable for his having been bitten by an IBM machine (his “war wound” -- he wanted a purple heart but the corpsman gave him a bandaid and laughed); acting in many productions at the Dock Street and Footlight Theaters; drawing and painting their PlayBills; and meeting and marrying Mary Emelie Tobias (Toby). He then returned to teach at his old school, Deveaux, in Niagara Falls and nurture his first son Willy (John B. Stebbins, Jr.). There he nearly completed a PhD program at the University of Buffalo. Next, he seized the opportunity to help found a school in Northern Vermont (Sterling School, now Sterling College, in Craftsbury Common, VT) with several Berkshire School faculty. At Sterling, he served in virtually every position from school carpenter to night watchman to Headmaster.
He designed and built his own house near the campus, and soon added son George to his family. He constructed and played three banjoes, helped to launch the local fiddlers’ contest, served as the town’s republican representative, was a deacon in his church, and continued to act in local theater. In a few years, cherished daughter Elizabeth was born. He earned a Masters in School Administration at Johnson State College, and had brief stints at Manlius Pebble Hill School (NY) and Lamoille Union High School (VT). Next, he traveled across the street from Sterling to become principal of Craftsbury Academy, the local high school. Following the death of his wife, he and Elizabeth moved to Ashburnham, MA where he taught English and Latin at Cushing Academy. There he met and married his second wife, Janet Elizabeth Jones.
At Cushing, he taught, and coached shot put and discus. He also continued his woodworking passion and built inlaid workbenches, headboards, and coffee tables. He also renovated their Maine summer cottage on MacMahan Island, adding a bedroom and woodshop, building a king-size bed in the attic so that it looked out to sea, fitting built-in drawers under the eaves, and designing the famous Stebbins wine rack that fit bottles between the studs. After his retirement from Cushing, he lived in Westminster and Walpole, MA before moving to Pomfret School, in Pomfret, CT. There, he served as the school’s top English, history, and Latin tutor, while continuing his success in watercolor painting, woodwork, and local theater. During this time, he moved to an 1840 farmhouse in the neighboring town of Woodstock, where he converted half the old barn into the woodshop of his dreams (a gorgeous inlaid sideboard was proof). After many happy years there, he really retired, this time to Piper Shores Lifecare Community on the ocean in Scarborough, ME, where he lived for his last four years. Weeks before his death he celebrated his 85th birthday with children, grand-children, great grand-children, nieces and nephews, during which, as usual, all were riveted by his storytelling. He loved giraffes, model planes and railroads. He always said his demise would come (embarrassingly) by being trampled by butterflies. At time of his death, he had almost finished memorizing Eliot’s The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. He is survived by Janet, Amber- the dog, and many wonderful family, friends, and memories. A memorial concert in his honor is being scheduled for September in Scarborough. In lieu of flowers, please consider a contribution to Beacon Hospice, 54 Atlantic Pl., Portland, ME 04106.
Saco, ME – Virginia (Zanchi) Ainsworth, 96, of Old Orchard Beach and formerly of Lowell, MA died on Friday July 26, 2013 among her loving family and caring community at Seal Rock Health Care Facility after a long but graceful journey with dementia.
Virginia was born in Westford, MA on June 11, 1917, the daughter of the late Dominic and Angela (Montagne) Zanchi. She was educated in the Westford schools. For many years she worked in the Woolen Mills of Lowell before retiring in 1978 from Honeywell of Lowell. Virginia moved to Maine in 1985 and wintered in Florida until ill health forced her to return home in 2004.
She was a member of the United Baptist Church of Saco, ME and a former member and deaconess of Calvary Baptist Church of Lowell, MA. She was also a member of the Ocean Park Association’s Toilers-By-The-Sea.
Virginia was predeceased by her husband James Ainsworth, who died in 1993. She was the last remaining sibling of Rose, Angelina, Dena, Mary, Isabella, Lydia, Speranza, Grace, Ruth, David, Nicholas, Paul and Daniel. She is survived by two daughters Angela Hutchinson and her husband Paul of Saco, ME and Betty Germann of Old Orchard Beach, ME. She also leaves two granddaughters, Kimberly Lombardi and her husband Lenny of Haverhill, MA and Tammy Paladis and her husband Marc of North Waterboro, ME.
The family gratefully acknowledges the kind, considerate, compassionate care provided to “Mom” by the entire staff at Seal Rock Health Care and Beacon Hospice.
Relatives and friends are invited to attend a celebration of life will be held on Saturday, August 3, 2013 at 11 a.m. at the United Baptist Church, 318 Main Street, Saco.
Arrangements are under the care of Advantage Funeral Services, 981 Forest Ave. Portland. Please visit www.advantageportland.com to sign Virginia’s guestbook and express your condolences to the family.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to:
The United Baptist Church
318 Maine Street
Saco, ME 04072
Open Hands Open Hearts
67 Ocean Park Road
Saco, ME 04072
KITTERY – Bertha E. “Betty” (Raynes) Philbrook, 89, passed away on Tuesday, July 16, 2013. She spent her final hours surrounded by her loving family at Durgin Pines in Kittery, Maine. She resided in Kittery Point for 84 years before becoming a resident of Durgin Pines in 2008.
Betty was born December 28, 1923 in Kittery Point, the daughter of Sherman F. Raynes and Emma C. Raynes. She was a lifelong homemaker having raised a large family of six children. Betty was well known for her wonderful art of cooking and baking. If not in the kitchen, she could be found at the sewing machine creating beautiful items of her own design with no patterns necessary. A set of knitting needles and a skein of yarn were always on hand for yet another baby sweater or a pair of mittens. Betty loved to work outside in her flower gardens and took great pride in her rock gardens and frog waterfall. She also enjoyed gatherings filled with family and food which included homemade hand-churned ice cream in the winter and, in the summer, making baked beans in her very own bean hole she built in the back yard. Betty loved camping when her children were younger, first starting out in a tent and later in a pop-up camper at various campgrounds in Maine and New Hampshire. In her senior years, Betty took pleasure in spending time and helping out at the Kittery Senior Center and taking day trips with her friends at the center. She was very happy to be able to spend many winters in Florida with her daughter, Donna. Betty’s favorite holiday was Halloween when she would transform herself into a wicked witch and her kitchen into a spooky place for trick-or-treaters to come in for a cup of cider, a cookie or cupcake and a goodie bag. Word of this traveled far and wide and kids and parents alike came in by the dozens. Once Betty started residing at Durgin Pines, her nurturing ways found her trying to help clear tables in the dining room or running to the aid of other residents in distress. Bertha (as she is known at Durgin Pines) will be remembered by staff for her love of music and dancing. She will be missed by all who loved her.
Betty was predeceased by her parents, her husband, Lyford Philbrook in 2004, and her brothers, Sherman (Jason) Raynes, Wesley Raynes and Clayton Raynes.
Betty is survived by three sons, Wesley Philbrook and wife Abby of York; Stephen Philbrook and wife Barbara of Shapleigh; and Thomas Philbrook and wife Michele of Kittery Point; three daughters, Donna McGee and husband Dale of Steuben; Susan Ferguson and husband Robert of Belmont, NH; and Lisa Briest and husband Tommy Briest of Erwin, TN; and 19 grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren and several nieces and nephews. She is also survived by her brother, Lester Raynes and wife Millie of Kittery Point, and her sister, Shirley Raynes of Biddeford.
There will be no calling hours.
A graveside service will be held at the First Baptist Church cemetery (entrance near Mitchell School), Kittery Point, on Saturday, July 27, 2013, at 2:00 p.m.
A celebration of Betty’s life will be held at the home of her son and daughter-in-law, Wesley and Abby Philbrook, 119 Scituate Road, York, following the graveside service.
In lieu of flowers, it is suggested that donations be made to the Durgin Pines Resident Activity Fund and mailed to Durgin Pines, 9 Lewis Road, Kittery, ME 03904, or to the Kittery Community Center, 200 Rogers Road, Kittery, ME 03904.
Advantage Funeral & Cremation Services, Portland, Maine, is assisting the family with cremation services. For more information and to view an online memorial go to www.advantageportland.com.
Gayle Morgan Epstein of Westbrook Maine passed away in Scarborough at Gosnell Memorial Hospice on July 19, 2013 after a two year fight with a brain tumor. She was 56 years old.
She was born in New Haven Connecticut to Zella Woodworth Morgan and Richard W. Morgan and attended school in North Branford. She graduated from Southern Connecticut State College in 1978 with a BA in Art. After college Gayle moved to San Diego to live near her sister Joyce.
Gayle had many interests and was an accomplished cyclist, traveling solo across Ireland in her early twenties. After moving to Colorado she enjoyed road biking in the Rocky Mountains. She was also a member of the Horseless Carriage Club of America as well as an avid hiker. Gayle was an excellent singer and played guitar. She also produced many fine pieces of art over the years.
Gayle worked for many years in the insurance field before moving to Maine to buy her mother’s home in Ocean Park. She took a job in a busy medical office where she worked in an administrative capacity. Her last position was with Maine Medical Center as an O.R. scheduler.
Survivors include her sons Brett Epstein of Aurora, CO., Adam Epstein of Scarborough, ME., her grandson Mason Epstein of Aurora, CO., her sisters Joyce Morgan of San Diego, CA., Joan Jeffery of Texas, brother Richard Morgan of Scarborough, ME, Life Partner Tom Contolini of Westbrook, ME., and devoted dog Millie. Gayle also had many dear friends who were like family to her.
A memorial celebration of Gayle’s life will be announced at a later time.
Arrangements are under the care of Advantage Funeral Services, 981 Forest Ave., Portland. Please visit www.advantageportland.com to sign Gayle’s guestbook and express your condolences to the family.
Nashua, NH – Michael R. Thomas, 59, of Nashua and formerly of Mass died on Saturday, July 13, 2013 at the Nashua Veterans Hospital.
Michael was born in Schenectady, NY on June 13, 1954 a son of the late Saliem & Mary (York) Thomas. He grew up in the Brighton/Watertown area, graduating from Brighton High School before joining the US Navy. He then went on to work for the military as a civilian aircraft mechanic.
Michael enjoyed sports and especially enjoyed playing hockey. He was also an avid Patriots fan.
He is survived by two daughters Kelly Thomas of Billerica, MA and Heather Lamothe and her husband John of Salem, NH and a son Michael Thomas Jr. of Billerica, MA. He also leaves three brothers Darrel Thomas of Maine, Saliem Thomas of California and Martin Thomas of Billerica, MA, three sisters Mona Beeler of Maine, Becky Bennett of Maine and Lorrillie “Lori” Thomas of Tampa, FL as well as seven grandchildren, five nephews, four nieces and several great nieces and nephews and one great great niece and nephew. He was also the brother of the late Sheila ThomasTavanese.
Relatives and friends are invited to attend a visitation on Friday, July 19, 2013 from 9 – 11 a.m. at the Wilde Memorial Chapel in Evergreen Cemetery, 672 Stevens Ave., Portland.
A graveside service will be held on Saturday, July 20, 2013 at 10 a.m. at Calvary Cemetery, South Portland, ME.
Arrangements are under the care of Advantage Funeral Services, 981 Forest Ave., Portland. Please visit www.advantageportland.com to sign Michael’s guestbook and express your condolences to the family.