NEWPORT – Eileen Ordway Bemis, 54, died Tuesday morning, Dec. 6, 2011, at her home on Elm Street after a year-long battle with pancreatic cancer. She was born April 29, 1957, in Dexter. She was the daughter of Jane and Russell Sawyer and also the daughter of the late Duane Ordway.
Eileen loved well and was well loved throughout her life. She was a Maine girl and very proud of her heritage. She was an incredible cook; able to make the same mince meat pie that her great-grandmother made from venison as well as gourmet treats that she blessed her family and friends with every Christmas. She never knew, nor wanted to know, a life that did not include the task of "getting the wood in." Camping beside the ocean brought her much peace throughout her life. Eileen graduated from Nokomis High School in 1975 and graduated with honors from Husson College with a degree in business education in 1979. She spent 24 years with the Maine State Revenue Service, both as a field rep and in Augusta. She was the director of Audit for SRS and served many years in the Sales Tax Division, where she became affectionately known throughout the state as the "Sales Tax Lady." She was an incredible and sought after speaker and teacher and worked with several professional organizations throughout New England speaking and educating about Maine tax issues. She authored several industry-specific articles for professional publications about the impact of Maine sales tax and served on the boards of state and federal sales tax organizations. She would like it known, however, that while she gratefully worked for the state all of those years, she was not always in agreement with the politics of the governor of the legislative body that she served. Eileen also loved her hometown. She served on Newport’s Budget Committee and was the former president of the Newport Library Association. She was actively involved in the start up of Newport Cultural Center, served on that board as the vice chair, and was instrumental in writing the bylaws for this new board. Most importantly she loved family and friends and everyone was always welcome in her home and at her supper table.
Eileen is survived by her parents, Jane and Russell Sawyer of Newport; her son, Trevor Bemis and his partner, Kim Burns, of Newport; her two sisters whom she will always be the boss of, Janelle Leeman and her husband, Vern, and Renee Ordway Fournier and her husband, Rick, all of Bangor. She was a loving nana to Christopher Holbrook and Xander Bemis. She was dearly loved by her nieces and nephews, Jillian "Jilli" Grover and Jayci and Nick Fournier. She also was loved by her very special friend and companion, Junior Bemis, who took wonderful care of her during the past year. She is also survived by many aunts, uncles and cousins. She was predeceased by her biological father, her grandparents; and her beloved daughter, Jenni. In the year 2000 Eileen lost her daughter Jenni Lynn Bemis in a car accident. She lost her grandmother the same weekend. That loss had a huge impact on her life. Through Eileen’s brave and unselfish decision, Jenni’s death helped five other people survive life-threatening illnesses through organ donation. Eileen was not afraid to die as she had faith that she would be reunited with Jenni and her grandmother, Claudia Boyle.
A celebration of Eileen’s life will be held 1 p.m. Friday, Dec. 9, at Brown Funeral Home and Cremation Service Center, 34 High St., Newport. Friends who wish may make memorial donations to Newport Community Food Bank, 26 High St., Newport, ME 04953 or High Street Congregational Church, 24 High St., Newport, ME 04953. To sign an online guest book and leave written tributes, please visit