LIVERMORE – Billie Gammon, 92, the founder of Washburn-Norlands Living History Center, died Sunday morning, Jan. 11, 2009, at her home in North Livermore village. She was born July 31, 1916, in Augusta, daughter of Howard G. and Mable Searle Wilson. Though named Ethel Searle Wilson, she has been known throughout her life as “Billie.” She grew up in North Augusta and Nictaux, Nova Scotia. Billie graduated from Cony High School, Augusta, in 1932 at the age of 15, and two years later from Washington State Normal School, now the University of Maine – Machias. She was an elementary teacher in Parkman, Livermore and Augusta. On June 21, 1938, Billie married Alfred Quimby Gammon of Livermore Falls. Together Billie and Alfred converted a North Livermore carriage house into their home. In summer months, they could be found sailing the coast in their sailboat “Sweet Dream.” A member of North Livermore Baptist Church, she taught third grade Sunday school for 23 years, served as senior BYF, Baptist Youth Fellowship, advisor for 10 years, and was one of two “den mothers” to the senior adult group that she was instrumental in starting. She was a Girl Scout leader and served on the State Department of Educational Ministries for American Baptist Churches for more than a dozen years. In addition, Billie helped start and operate North Livermore Reading Club Library. It was in summer 1954 that Billie began her work at Norlands, opening the library to visitors one afternoon a week. From that humble beginning, she had a dream and the result was the founding of the Washburn-Norlands Foundation in 1974. On her 75th birthday in 1991, Billie resigned as executive director of Washburn-Norlands Living History Center. She was back in 1996 for a term as interim director. It was through her efforts that Washburn Humanities Center at Norlands was developed with its’inauguration in 1992. In fall 2008 Billie resigned after serving many years as the editor of the Maine Association of Museums’ newsletter. In 1974 she graduated from the University of Maine – Farmington and received her master’s degree in education in 1975 from the University of Maine, Portland-Gorham. She received an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Maine – Farmington. Billie was honored with many prestigious awards, including the Distinguished Achievement Award from the University of Maine – Farmington; Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Maine – Machias; Jefferson Award in 1983; and the Constance H. Carlson Public Humanities Prize. She was also inducted into Maine Women’s Hall of Fame and in 1990 was a guest of Barbara Bush in the Rose Garden of the White House for the Points of Light. She was a recipient of the 1999 Deborah Morton Award at a ceremony at the University of New England. She is survived by a daughter, Nancy Lee Wakefield and her husband, John, of Livermore; a son, Michael G. Gammon of Livermore; a granddaughter, Betsy Wakefield and her husband, Kevin Rouleau, of South Portland; a grandson, Jonathan D. Wakefield and his fianc?e, Melissa Morneau, of Rangeley; grandson-in-law, Steven P. Stout of Cape Elizabeth; grandson, William M. Gammon and his wife, Tracy, of Livermore; four great-grandchildren, Samuel Wakefield Stout of Cape Elizabeth, Logan Xander Buker and Olivia Darcy Wakefield of Rangeley and Tyler Cooper Gammon of Livermore. She was predeceased by her husband, Alfred Q. Gammon, Feb. 1, 1985; and her granddaughter, Darcy Gammon Wakefield, Dec. 10, 2005. Funeral services will be held 1 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 15, at North Livermore Baptist Church, corner of Crash Road and Federal Road, Livermore. Visiting hours will be held 2-8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 14, at Finley Funeral Home, 15 Church St., Livemore Falls. Interment will be in the spring at Waters Hill Cemetery, Livermore. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Billie’s memory to Good Shepard Food Bank, 3121 Hotel Road, Auburn, ME 04210 or The Salvation Army Northern New England Divisional Headquarters, 297 Cumberland Ave., P.O. Box 3647, Portland, ME 04104. Messages of condolence may be sent to www.finleyfuneralhome.com.
Posted Jan. 11, 2009, at 7:47 p.m.