PRESQUE ISLE – Gladys Irene Gooding, born Sept. 22, 1911, passed from this world on Oct. 17, 2013. Her 102 years of life were rich in experience, bold in conviction and truly inspired in citizenship.
Experiences, she had “aplenty!” During World War II Gladys was a “gray lady” – a volunteer position that helped transport Air Force personnel and repaired jeep engines. She had a post at the Aroostook Red Cross chapter during the Vietnam War. Many a Saturday was spent in her kitchen with the grandchildren stuffing ditty bags for the soldiers. We remember Gladys, “Nannie” as we called her, having us write personal cards for each one reminding us “it’s the little thoughts that mean the most.”
Gladys was always working in service of others. Whether it was through her church, the Congregational Church as head deaconess; for the city of Presque Isle working for the Highway Dept., or dispensing food stamps for the Department of Health and Welfare. She was a tireless volunteer for the Manuka Club, the BPW Club, the James School Restoration Committee, the Maine Cemetery Preservation Group, or being the president of her own “Garden Club,” as many will remember her weeding her pansy garden.
Gladys was always a caregiver opening her home and larder to all. There was rarely a private meal between her and her husband, Harry. She could make a soup bone go a long way! And many a “poor man soup” was part of a hearty, meal with the marrow of the soup bone being spread on saltines as the pate’ course. When the weather at the Echo Lake camp grew cold, Gladys’ home became a haven to her extended family with Sunday dinner shared by all.
Many relatives, including her daughters’ family, spent a great deal of time “boarding” for free at 71 Dudley Street. She opened her home to grandchildren, nieces, nephews, sisters, and brothers alike during times of their personal need – whether for financial, educational or personal reasons, in sickness or health. She provided a safe and loving home.
After her husband, Harry, passed in 1969 she remained active, joining Body Recall to prove how in shape and octogenarian could and should be. She toured Maine recreation centers showing her high kicks and stretches to inspire others.
Gladys began her life in Presque Isle, born to Lula and Leroy Bean. The eldest daughter of 11 children, Thurston Bean, Gladys, Murle Bean, Eunice McCrossin Hemingway, Ken Bean, Leslie Bean, Doris Rose, Melba McDougal, Alton Bean, Althea Bean, and the sole surviving sister, Ellouise Somers of Presque Isle. She outlived all of her children and their spouses, Garth and Kathleen Gooding, Jerry and Glenna Hirsch, and Joseph Gooding, who passed in an accident at the age of 13, which wounded Gladys to her very soul.
Nothing was dearer to her heart than her grandchildren and great-grandchildren! Up to her 98th year she would spend weekends teaching, Hannah Hirsch, Matthew and Nathan Hirsch, and Brenden and Kate Goulet to cook, knit, sew and work with plants. Her grandchildren, Joseph and Kimberley Hirsch, Carlene Hirsch, Susan and Shawn Goulet, and Alison Gooding have such rich memories of tilling the garden, making jam, getting flowers ready for the fair, picnic trips to Feeder Farm, family reunions and the many hunting and gathering trips where they were more “searching for apples or beechnut” than hunting for meat, as Nannie saw it.
Some of Gladys’ favorite times were serving church suppers, restoring the James School to a community landmark with her friends Judge Julian and Mary Turner, and going to the Manuka Club with Edith Shaw and Bessie Higgins. She cherished the family gatherings with her dozens of nieces, nephews, cousins, aunts and uncles. Thank you to all for sharing her wonderful life. A special thanks goes to her dear friends and neighbors Dr. Paul and Jean Hamlin for watching over her for so many years.
It is difficult to sum up this woman’s life who touched and bettered so many others. Her love, care, strength of character and conviction will live on forever. We’ll never forget the twinkle in her bright blue eyes and her smile that came straight from her heart. Hallelujah Gladys! We are rejoicing your life. And now may you find your peace with all your loved ones who have been waiting your arrival for a very long time! Our loss is God’s gain.
There will be a graveside service 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 26, at Fairmount Cemetery, Presque Isle. A reception will follow the service at Duncan-Graves Funeral Home, 30 Church St., Presque Isle. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her memory to your local chapter of the American Red Cross. Online condolences may be expressed at www.duncan-graves.com.