OLD TOWN – Joan Oliver, known to most of us as MeMe, was called home Aug. 30, 2013 following a brief illness. She spent the last days of her life surrounded by loving family and friends, recalling fondly the many stories of her life. Joan was born in Bangor, Oct. 18, 1923 to Dorothy and Stanley Garland.
She grew up in Bangor, attending Bangor schools and Essex Street Baptist Church. It was during a summer church function that she met Robert W. Oliver. They were married Sept. 19, 1942, and after living in military housing during Bob’s U.S. Navy service, they settled in Millinocket. Joan joined Millinocket Baptist Church, and while busy raising her family of five children, she was also active in Mission Circle, and helped cater functions with the ‘Club Girls’ who remained lifelong friends. In 1963 the family relocated to Old Town. Joan joined the Bradley Baptist Church, where she was a member for almost 50 years. She remained active in Mission Circle, and served several terms as a church officer. Shortly after moving to Old Town, Joan began working outside the home; first as a cook at Herbert Gray School, then cooking at the Orono Nursing Home. She was later promoted to activities director, a position she enjoyed until she retired from full-time employment. She worked part time after that as a cook for Meals for Maine. She also began her own craft business, Saw and Sew, assisted by her husband, Bob, and a small army of helpers – anyone who stopped by was put to work turning bears or stuffing pillows. Joan was a fixture at many local craft fairs, and was a lifetime member of Waldo County Craft Cooperative. She also worked and showed her crafts at the Kalico Kitchen in Milford. In her 80′s, Joan began a new career as volunteer and substitute teacher at the Viola Rand School in Bradley, where she became MeMe to a new generation of children. During her life, Joan opened her heart and her home to all, who needed her love and comfort. Some became part of the family for short periods, and others have remained near and dear whether related by blood or by choice. There has always been room for more. Joan’s Uncle Robert MacManus’s years of staying with Bob and Joan are remembered with great affection – Uncle Robert fully believed, as most of the family does, that Joan could do anything she set her mind to. After her husband’s death in 1993, Joan began the next phase of her life, enjoying travelling with family and friends. Her friend, Dot Yerxa was a frequent and much beloved companion. She visited friends and family in Florida for several winters, and made numerous trips around the United States, Canada and Europe. Joan loved her trips to Scotland, England and especially Ireland with her cousins, Neil and Ellie Teenan and Helen and Gilles Girard. Her dear and faithful friend, Nadia Rand was a frequent travel companion, and a daily visitor for coffee since Joan’s move to Old Town. Joan’s dear friend, Betty Smart has also been a frequent visitor for afternoon tea, and she and Nadia brought a great deal of comfort to Joan, especially during her final illness. Joan’s favorite spot was at her camp on an island in North Twin Lake near Millinocket. She spent summers there while her children were growing up, and spent as much time as possible there during the last few years. Her nephew, David Oliver and his wife, Shirley, were especially kind in helping Joan get to and from camp, and they have been as dear to Joan as her own children. Joan’s sons Charles and Tom have also been especially helpful in recent years, helping Joan to spend as much time at camp as possible. Near the end of her life, Joan joined the United Methodist Church of Old Town, and was blessed to end her faith journey in a congregation of family and friends. The Methodist Church was the setting for Joan’s early 90th birthday celebration on August 10th of this year. The people who loved her were able to share a wonderful afternoon with her. Among those attending were friends, foster-sisters, cousins, nieces, nephews, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The family wishes to thank everyone who attended or help make the celebration such a memorable event.
Joan was predeceased by her husband, Robert in 1993. She is survived by her five children: William and Mary Kay Brennan and his two children, Kimberly and Amy; Thomas and his three children, Thomas, Emily and Peter; Charles and his wife, Brynn, and their three children, Joanna, Jennifer and Karen; Robert and his wife, Rebecca, and his two children, Meredith and Amanda; Dorothy and her husband, Jeffrey, and their five children, Samantha, William, Alex, Daniel and Nicholas.
There will be no visiting hours, but the family asks that you join them in a celebration of Joan’s life at the United Methodist Church in Old Town, 3 p.m. Friday, Sept. 6. No flowers, please, but if you wish to make a donation in Joan’s memory, please remember the United Methodist Church in Old Town, 726 Stillwater Ave., Old Town, ME 04468, or the Old Town Animal Orphanage, 71 Airport Road, Old Town, ME 04468. Notes of Condolence may be expressed to the family at www.birminghamfuneralhome.com.