BANGOR, Maine — She loved church, animals and people, which she demonstrated in her life with tireless hours of volunteer work on their behalf. Shann M. Gillespie also showed them in death, by sharing her savings with two Bangor institutions where she volunteered.
Bangor Humane Society and St. John’s Catholic Church each received checks for $395,000 Friday, presented by Gillespie’s longtime friend and personal representative Ruth Spellman and attorney Joseph Baldacci of Bangor, during individual press conferences at the respective facilities.
“Shann lived a spare life, but gave to [St. Joseph] hospital, church, Humane Society and students. She didn’t ask for recognition. She lived a selfless and caring life. She earned her money in Bangor, lived here, and then invested her money here,” Baldacci said.
Gillespie had worked as a business manager at United Technologies Center for more than 20 years. She also volunteered in the community, primarily at Bangor Humane Society, as Eucharistic Minister at St. John’s Catholic Church, and at the reception desk at St. Joseph Hospital. She died unexpectedly at age 69 on March 26, 2013. She had no children.
Executive Director Suzan Bell said the Bangor Humane Society is raising what it needs for its $925,000 operating budget, and that Gillespie’s gift will be used for something special and meaningful that future generations will see. She said the most likely use would be for capital improvements to the physical plant. Gillespie loved the cats in particular, so Bell said the improvements could center on the cat portion of the facility.
“I am rarely speechless, but this is very humbling,” said Bell. “A volunteer trusts us to save more lives and we will work hard to live up to that trust. We know her spirit and what she was about.”
Most of the Humane Society’s Board of Directors membership and several volunteers attended the special presentation, as did Greg Miller, Gillespie’s former supervisor at UTC.
“She devoted her life to church, community and animals. She cared. I am happy to be honoring her today,” he said in brief remarks.
At St. John’s Catholic Church, Baldacci focused on Gillespie’s faithfulness and humble existence in his brief remarks.
“Shann’s life was about service, and in her death, she has continued that service,” he said.
Spellman presented the check for $395,000 to the Rev. Daniel Baillargeon and church Business Administrator Cheryl Whalen, indicating Gillespie wanted it to go into the Parish Improvement Fund.
“This is a blessed community indeed from Miss Gillespie’s bequest. We offer prayers for her eternal soul,” said Father Baillargeon, who was reassigned from Old Town to St. John’s in August 2013.
Whalen said the most immediate need of the physical church, which was built in 1856, is a new slate roof. Father Baillargeon thought funds could be used toward the roof. He said the interior of the church needs to be painted also, which can cost thousands of dollars.
Baillargeon said the church takes in $80,000-$90,000 a month, just to put the contribution in perspective.
Although the Bangor Humane Society and St. John’s have vastly different functions in the community, they shared an appreciation for the generosity of one who lived among them and worked beside them, and who, they agreed, would not have wanted the kind of public recognition given to her Friday.
“We are blessed indeed,” said Baillargeon.