WESTBROOK and CHARLOTTE – Karin E. (Sherrard) Gower, 95, widow of Harold W. Gower, formerly of Carlson St., Westbrook, passed away unexpectedly Oct. 21, 2013, at the Gorham House in Gorham, where she had resided the past year. Karin was born Sept. 14, 1918, in Charlotte, the daughter of Philip E. and Mildred A. (Goodeill) Sherrard, the first of three children.
For the initial ten years of her life she and her parents resided with her maternal grandparents along the Moosehead Stream in Charlotte and thereafter on the Sherrard family farm on the shore of Round Pond in Charlotte originally settled by her paternal great-grandfather. She attended various one room schools in Charlotte (Gardner, Lake and Damon ridge) and graduated from Pembroke High School in 1935 at the age of 16. Karin married her beloved husband, Harold, Oct. 8, 1935, in Calais, with whom she shared nearly 75 years of a wonderful, loving marriage. The family moved to the Portland area in 1941, residing in Westbrook for 57 of the subsequent years. Although Karin’s primary occupation was that of a housewife raising her five children, Karin also worked full time for a number of years, principally for Grants department store in the early 1950s, then as a housekeeper for the William Rines family of South Portland beginning in 1954, concluding her formal outside employment with five years of service in the Central Supply department of Maine Medical Center in the 1970s. During World War II she served as a volunteer in the Red Cross Motor Corps, primarily as an ambulance driver. She also served as a volunteer Civil Air Defense observer for several years following the war. Karin was an active member of the Prides Corner Congregational Church for 54 years, during which time she was in charge of the dining room for the monthly bean suppers for many years, and where her custard pies were legendary right up to the time she moved to the Gorham House. She was very active in the Church Guild, of which she served as president for several years and as chairman of the Guild room for many Christmas fairs. She also contributed many quilts, pillows, pot holders, fine sewing items of various nature and plastic canvas ornaments, including many items for the fair held last weekend on which she had worked since moving to the Gorham House. She, and Harold, also worked for over 15 years as part of the Church’s support of the Soup Kitchen in Portland, not only as food servers but also by baking cookies or bars for each session on which they worked. The Grange was also an important part of Karin’s life. Karin joined Charlotte Grange on Sept. 28, 1938, and transferred her membership to Cape Elizabeth Grange on Jan. 26, 1946. Not only was she a subordinate member for 75 years, she also belonged to Cumberland County Pomona Grange, the Maine State Grange, and the National Grange. She was past Master of Cape Elizabeth Grange and Junior Deputy three times for the Maine State Grange. She was an active participant of the Cape Elizabeth Grange Ceres Circle, serving as president and treasurer several years. She was a co-chairman of their annual fair and hostess of the dining room for the monthly fried clam and fried chicken public suppers put on by the grange in the 1960s and 1970s. She was a member of the grange installation team over several decades. She also bowled on the grange bowling team at the Big 20 for many years. Finally, for eight years she, and Harold, were a members of a team of eight dancers who demonstrated and taught square dancing, often for two or three nights a week. Karin, and Harold, were among the founding members of Hospice of Maine in 1976. In 1989 Karin and Harold jointly were recipients of the prestigious Mary Rines Thompson award given by the Center for Voluntary Action, a division of the United Way, in recognition of the exceptional and faithful service to the Hospice of Maine and their unwavering kindness and support for all people in need. The award indicated particularly their work in behalf of Hospice, the Grange, the Baxter School for the Deaf, the Little Wanderers, and their church. In 1997 the Gowers received a lifetime achievement award by the Spirit of America Foundation. Sharing and working for the benefit of others was a way of life for the Gowers. Karin was a member for 25 plus years of the Maine Genealogical Society and the Maine Historical Society. In 1993 she published a genealogy of the descendants of her great-grandfather, John Sherrard, through seven generations. In 2003, Karin produced a 105 page memoir of her life for her children and grandchildren. She also printed for them, in 2000, a 92 page book of her favorite recipes. Karin was a fabulous cook. She baked her first apple pie at age nine under the guidance of her grandmother Sherrard and made hundreds of pies thereafter of all varieties. She canned or froze prodigious quantities of vegetables, pickles, apple sauce, mince meat, etc., each fall. Her yeast rolls and breads were always in demand, as was her peanut butter fudge. There was always room for one, or six, more at Karin’s table, even on very short notice, and room for one, or six, more to spend the night. As suggested above, Karin was an accomplished seamstress. She made much of her children’s clothing in their younger years. She made quilts for all her children and grandchildren, and made dozens of quilts for the Ronald McDonald House, A.B.C. AIDs Babies and Project Linus, contributing one-two dozen quilts a year. She won many awards for her submissions to State Grange sewing contests. Karin had many other interests. She loved family camping trips. After Harold’s retirement they took a two month motor trip to Alaska. She went on many smaller trips, including trips to Prince Edward Island, Pennsylvania, and New York with special friends, Bob and Charlotte Pratt. She liked to play cribbage and hand and foot; and enjoyed doing puzzles.
She was predeceased by her beloved husband, Harold, in September 2010; an infant son, Norman in March 1940; her sister, Agatha Morrison in October 1995; and a son-in-law, Dominique Morin in October 1994. She is survived by five children, Louise and her husband, Lloyd Worster, of Satellite Beach, Fla., Gerald Gower and his wife, Janice, of Raymond, Lois Morin of Sebago and her companion, Leonard Grant, of Greenville, Horace Gower and his wife, Sonya, of Freeport, and Elmira Collins and her husband, Clayton, of Standish; 15 grandchildren, Wendy Hocevar of Casselberry, Fla., Rebecca and husband, Naji Al-Mutairi of Kuwait, Belinda Lantz and husband, Jack Lantz, of Mariposa, Calif., Jodi and husband, Jeff Strickle, of Oviedo, Fla., Kevin Gower and wife, Maureen, of Purcellville, Va., Michael Gower and wife, Tami, of Wells, Brenda Gower of Zanesville, Ohio, Daniel Morin of York and his fiancée, Gabrielle Burke, Gabriel Morin and his wife, Betty, of Francis, Utah, Richard Gower and fiancée, April Thompson, of Orlando, Fla., SSGT Gary Gower of Fort Polk, La., Milissa and husband, Ted Ray, of Freeport, Cathie Bernard of Windham, and Christine and husband, Josh Gagliardi, of Lake Mary, Fla.; 26 great-grandchildren; seven great-great-grandchildren; her brother, Chester Sherrard and his wife, Maxine, of Davenport, Fla.; several nieces and nephews; and many, many special friends. The family extends its sincere appreciation to the dedicated staff of the Gorham House for its loving support of Mom over the past year.
Visiting hours will be held 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 24, with a Grange Service held 7 p.m. at Blais & Hay Funeral Home, 35 Church St., Westbrook. A funeral service will be held 1:30 p.m. Friday, at Prides Corner Congregational Church, Westbrook, with a reception to follow in the church hall. Interment will be 2 p.m. Saturday, at Round Pond Cemetery, Charlotte. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Prides Corner Congregational Church, 235 Pride St., Westbrook, ME 04092.