GOULDSBORO, Maine — Raymond C. Hutchins was a former mechanic who owned and operated a local tavern and then a pawn shop. His wife, Virginia M. Hutchins, worked as an ed tech for many years at area grammar schools before retiring a few years ago.
They had just celebrated their 23rd wedding anniversary two days before their bodies were found on Thanksgiving Day on a couch inside their home on Grand Marsh Bay Road.
According to police, Raymond Hutchins, 65, shot his 75-year-old wife and then turned the handgun on himself.
Their daughter, Patti McCartney, said Tuesday that her parents had been in “very” ill health but were doing OK financially. Her mother had had multiple back surgeries and arthritis and had difficulty getting around. Her step-father, a Marine Corps veteran, was more mobile but still suffered from the effects of being exposed to Agent Orange while fighting in the Vietnam War, she said.
“They just couldn’t take the pain anymore,” McCartney, 54, said of her parents’ decision to end their lives. She said she found their bodies when she went to check on them the morning of the holiday. There was no note left behind, she said.
McCartney said that as her parents’ health declined, she helped when she could, but her father did the lion’s share of taking care of himself and his wife.
“He took care of everything,” she said. “He went out and did the shopping and that sort of stuff.”
Noelle Merrill, executive director of Eastern Area Agency on Aging, said Tuesday she was not familiar with the Hutchins family or their specific circumstances but that her agency and others throughout the state offer services to people in similar situations.
Taking care of an aging loved one can take a toll on the caregiver, who often has no prior experience in elder care, Merrill said. Sometimes the stress of caring for an ailing adult around the clock can lead to “caregiver burnout,” she said.
“Caregiving is probably the hardest thing anyone can do for a job,” Merrill said. “You’re all by yourself in what seems like another planet.”
Eastern Area Agency on Aging offers food assistance, classes on basic caregiving, facilitated support groups for caregivers and other services, many of them free of charge, the executive director said. Often it coordinates with other community service nonprofit groups in Hancock, Penobscot, Piscataquis and Washington counties to help provide such services to people who need them, she added.
“[Most] people do not know how to do this stuff,” Merrill said. “People should not hesitate to check with us.” The agency can be reached toll free at 1-800-432-7812.
McCartney said she did not know the details of how or exactly how long ago her parents met in the neighboring town of Winter Harbor. Her step-father was a diesel mechanic at the former Navy base at Schoodic Point and owned and ran Winter Harbor Garage in town — a mile or so away from the Winter Harbor Grammar School, where her mother spent most of her career.
Raymond later owned and operated the Cat’s Paw tavern in the local village of Birch Harbor and, after that, a nearby pawn shop, the daughter said. Before she retired in 2011, Virginia worked for a few years at the Peninsula School after the neighboring towns merged their elementary schools and moved into a new building in the Gouldsboro village of Prospect Harbor.
McCartney said her immediate family was close. She said she had a brother, James Gallagher, who died in 1985. Her step-father had a sister who lived in New Hampshire and her mother outlived all her siblings.
There will be no memorial service, McCartney said, because her parents had said they didn’t want any. She said she expects that relatives and friends who want to pay their respects will come visit when they can.
“They were very loving and caring parents,” McCartney said. “They had one of those romances everyone wishes they could have had.”