NEW SWEDEN – Charlene Espling, 93, died peacefully Feb. 23, 2008, in Asheville, N.C. Charlene was born Oct. 22, 1914, to John and Ellen (Erickson) Olander and lived most of her life in New Sweden. She graduated from Presque Isle Normal School in 1935 and started her teaching career in one-room schools in New Sweden. She taught for many years in the Woodland and New Sweden school systems, retiring in 1979. A lifetime member of Gustaf Adolph Lutheran Church, Charlene loved to sing in the church choir and play the piano and organ. She was an active member and officer of New Sweden Historical Society and Maine Swedish Colony. In 1995, Charlene was honored as New Sweden’s Citizen of the Year, and she proudly participated in New Sweden’s centennial and 125-year celebrations. Her son, Larry, who was born with cerebral palsy, credits his mother for his greatest accomplishments. Through Charlene’s tireless activism, she ensured Larry’s access and right to physical therapy and education, against all current advice, so that Larry would eventually obtain his masters degree and live an independent and productive life. For the past decade, Charlene has lived away from her beloved New Sweden, but she never considered anyplace but New Sweden her home. She is survived by a son, Larry Espling of Waltham, Mass.; and twin daughters, Sharon Carns and husband, Michael, of Osprey, Fla., and Ellen Lauritsen and husband, Kevin, of Asheville, N.C. She was predeceased by her husband of 55 years, Peter Espling, in 1996. A memorial service will be held in the summer at Gustaf Adolph Lutheran Church, New Sweden. A date will be announced at a later time. Any gifts in her honor should be sent to Gustaf Adolph Lutheran Church. Arrangements in care of Lancaster-Morgan Funeral Home, 11 Clover St., Caribou. Friends may express their condolences to the family at www.lancastermorgan.com.
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