May 22, 2018
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University of Maine at Machias receives what is likely biggest donation in school history

Sharon Killey Mack | BDN File Photo
Sharon Killey Mack | BDN File Photo
Graduating students at the University of Maine at Machias 100th graduation ceremony in 2011 stand and applaud their instructors as they head into the commencement ceremonies.
By Tom Walsh, BDN Staff

MACHIAS, Maine — The campus of the University of Maine at Machias will grow from 44 acres to 244 acres with the gift of property from the estate of Elizabeth DeShon Tibbetts, who graduated in 1937 from what then was known as the Washington State Normal School.

Tibbetts died on Dec. 9, 2012, at age 95. She stipulated in her will that the 200-plus acres that abut the Machias campus to the south would be deeded to the university in honor of her parents, H. Clifford DeShon and Kathleen M. DeShon, who were closely affiliated with the normal school in Machias.

Acceptance of the gift is on the agenda for next week’s meeting of the University of Maine System trustees.

The bequest stipulates that a commemorative plaque bearing Tibbetts; parents’ names be displayed in a suitable location. It also states that, should the university ever opt to sell the land, ownership will revert to the town of Machias.

“The land is undeveloped and is partly wooded and partly blueberry land,” said Thomas Potter, UMM’s vice president for administration and finance. “We don’t have any immediate plans to develop it. We have quite a few academic programs — plant biology and wildlife and recreation management — that can use this property as a laboratory environment.”

In the long term, development of the property as athletic fields could be a possibility, according to the agenda item for next Monday’s trustee meeting.

Potter said the property is being appraised but the gift, in terms of its value, is likely the university’s most significant single donation in recent times.

The will also stipulates that the Porter Memorial Library Association will be granted ownership of Tibbets’ home in Machias, the house lot and furnishings.

According to her obituary, Elizabeth DeShon Tibbetts was the wife of the late

Dorrance B. Tibbetts and was born in Machias on April 3, 1917. She graduated from Machias High School and Washington State Normal School and later received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Gorham Normal School and a master’s degree in education from Boston University.

Tibbets taught in Hancock, Ellsworth, Castine, Orono and Lexington, Mass. She served as elementary school supervisor in Orono, Old Town and Brewer from 1946 to 1951. In 1978, she retired from the Bangor School Department after serving as the elementary school supervisor for 27 years.

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