Bangoreans to honor Kay Lebowitz

Posted April 28, 2010, at 9:57 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — The lights of one of the city’s landmarks will go out briefly Friday night, just as one of the city’s bright lights was extinguished earlier this week.

In honor of longtime Bangor resident, volunteer, city councilor and state representative Catharine “Kay” Lebowitz, who died Monday at the age of 94, the lights of the Thomas Hill Standpipe will be darkened for 94 seconds during a candlelight memorial.

The event, which is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. Friday at the standpipe, was organized by City Councilor Cary Weston.

The Rev. Bob Carlson will emcee the memorial, and Chapel Hill Floral of Bangor is providing 94 pink carnations, Weston said.

Attendees are invited to wear anything that reminds them of Lebowitz, including a brooch, pearls or anything with the color pink.

“I don’t think I ever saw her not wearing pink,” said Weston, who got to know Lebowitz about six years ago when the Bangor Fusion group started up, and also through local Republican Party events. “She was a big supporter [of Fusion]. It was funny, she always used to say she was waiting for something to do in this town. She was kidding, of course. But she was always there to lend advice and when I ran for council she was there with tips and always willing to share insights.”

Other scheduled participants are Maine Rep. Emily Cain of Orono, who will sing the national anthem; Tom Kohl, the head of the Bangor Troop Greeters, on whose board Lebowitz served; Sharon Leighton, the president of the Zonta Club of Bangor; current and former city councilors; and representatives from the military in the Bangor area.

Weston said he got permission from the city of Bangor and the Bangor Water District, which operates the Thomas Hill Standpipe, to have the structure’s lights dimmed.

In addition to her volunteer work with the troop greeters, Lebowitz, known to friends and city officials as “Bangor’s sweetheart,” was a regular for decades on local committees, boards and groups. Some of those groups included the Bangor Museum, Eastern Maine Community College, Maine Center for Aging, St. Joseph Hospital and the United Way of Eastern Maine.

Weston got the idea for the event from the social networking website Facebook. As word started to spread Monday night that Lebowitz had died, he said, Facebook users began to post tributes and messages of sympathy. One poster wrote it would be fitting to “dim the lights” in her honor.

“I thought it was a really cool idea,” Weston said. “The next morning we started to make the request to see if it could happen.”

Friday’s event is not receiving any funding or support from the city, Weston said. He said he applied for an assembly permit and paid the fee, which he said was $50.

A Massachusetts native who moved in 1920 to Searsport with her family, Lebowitz lived in Massachusetts again in the mid-1940s but returned in 1953 to Maine for good.

Funeral services for Lebowitz will be held at 1 p.m. Friday at Brookings-Smith Funeral Home, 133 Center St. in Bangor, with Carlson officiating.

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