Janet B Bell  August 4 1928  December 19 2022

Janet B Bell August 4 1928 December 19 2022

Browse the obituary of Janet B Bell August 4 1928 December 19 2022 residing in Westbrook, Maine for funeral burial details. Write a message of sympathy or a last tribute to perpetue the friendship thread

August 4 1928 December 19 2022
Janet Bull Bell She had many names; whether you knew her as Jan, one of the last living North Gorham matriarchs; Janie, middle of the 9 children of the Edward Bull and Nettie Fox Bull family born on August 4, 1928, and raised on Parsons Road in Mapleton and Aunt to over 50 Bull nieces and nephews; Janet, wife of Harry Bell, in-law of 6 Bell siblings and Aunt of over 50 Bell nieces and nephews; Grandma (or Great-Grandma) to her 12 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren; or simply Mom (or Mum, depending on the child) to her 6 kids. No matter what you called her, the response was the same, an exclamation of greeting (“Well, well, come in!” or “Let me look at you!” or “Come in, come in, sit down!”), a drink and whatever was at hand to eat (most likely a cut up apple, carrot sticks, grapes, and the ever-present tin of some sort of baked good), and a cavalcade of questions from which she assessed everything about you in a few short minutes. If you had children with you the Maine potato basket toy box was pulled from a nearby cupboard and the children settled in to play. Character mattered to her more than anything else, your actions counted, not your words. And actions were her bread and butter. Growing up on a potato farm in Aroostook there was always something to be done, her favorite was berry and apple picking, her least favorite, frying doughnuts. After frying so many in her youth she never ate another after (but always had Mrs. Dunster’s doughnuts in the freezer to have with your tea or coffee). She walked across the Aroostook River via trestle to catch the bus to school in all seasons (often left behind to catch up by her older brothers) and she swam in the river in the summer (getting back on those brothers by stealing their clothes when she was done). She churned butter, collected eggs, washed clothes in a ringer washer, preserved every kind of fruit and vegetable, and assisted her busy mother in providing 3 meals a day via cookstove, every day, to the many people on the working farm. She travelled by train from Aroostook County to Aurora, Illinois to attend Aurora College from 1945-1949, majoring in Food & Nutrition and minoring in Music. She then began a career as a University of Maine Extension Home Demonstration Agent in Fort Kent. Travelling the roads of Aroostook at night, during all kinds of weather to teach and demonstrate, even co-hosting a radio show from Canada for a while. It was during this time she met and married Harry A Bell, another Extension Agent from Oxford County, working in Houlton. They married in 1952. They had 2 daughters and moved to Southern Maine in 1955. Another 4 children followed and a homestead purchased in North Gorham in 1957 became their home. Without a car and with children to occupy, her many skills and talents were put to use keeping everyone busy while creating a space for herself in the community, making many friends, and building relationships with everyone she met. She was a member of the UCC at North Gorham where she was part of the women’s Guild, a Sunday School teacher, and a strong alto in the choir. She was a fixture at the Bean Hole suppers almost from the beginning. Involved in the sorting, soaking, and mixing of the bean recipe, the steaming of the brown bread on a hot August afternoon, a fixture at the salad window in her later years where she could watch who was coming and going and say hi to all she knew (and many she didn’t). She was a 4-H leader with a number of the other mothers in the community, and a member of the University of Maine Cumberland County Homemakers. She was a frequent visitor to the North Gorham Public Library, where she could not only find a good book, but the latest news of the neighborhood. She remained close with her college friends via a Round Robin letter that came once a year with letters added along the way from all over the US. Road trips all around Maine for a good old-fashioned dooryard visit delighted her. If you were not home when she, and often her sister Carolyn, came by to see you, watch out! There would be evidence of their visit somewhere. Plastic flowers planted among your prized flower bed, your clothesline laundry re-arranged so the underwear was in plain sight of the neighbors, some decoration moved to another part of the yard, or your spice drawer re-organized. Their joy was in seeing how long it took for you to notice something was amiss. If she travelled through your town there was a good chance you’d see her or have a note that she’d been there when you returned home. Nature was as much entertainment for her as the people she met. The wildlife, the birds, the garden, and the sky were all part of her every day. There was no swimming until your row of peas were picked, you wore a belt to hold your bucket while picking blueberries so you could use two hands, you were prodded awake in the middle of the night so you wouldn’t miss a comet, an eclipse, or a meteor shower. Pine cones were collected for wreaths or bagged for a brighter campfire, a turkey feather was a treasure, she could find a four-leaf clover in any patch (and saved them all, tucked into books here and there). Nothing was to be wasted. “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without” her motto and creed. Wrapping paper was ironed and saved, plastic silverware washed and re-used, Cool Whip and cottage cheese containers your holders for prized leftovers from family meals, Christmas presents could be found tucked in Saltine and cereal boxes, apples are to be eaten to the very core, potatoes (Maine potatoes only, thank you very much!) to be peeled without waste. Every item can be used for something else, and don’t forget it! She loved a good turn of phrase: if she didn’t care for something it “was neither hay nor grass”, if you walked somewhere you went “by shank’s mare”, if you were out in the rain your “feathers would be wet”, and the list goes on and on… She was an independent thinker, a recipe or a pattern were a guide, not the rule. There was a more efficient way, a change in ingredients, a short-cut that made more sense, and always a substitution if you didn’t have the specific ingredient. Use your head! There were notes beside every recipe for variations she would find or make and she delighted in seeing if her grandkids could guess the secret ingredient in her soups, casseroles, and sauces (carrots, turnip, and zucchini being her favorite hidden treasures). She was a true partner to Harry, all decisions big and small, were made together. She had an opinion about everything and wasn’t afraid to share it but knew when to “hold her tongue” (and expected you to know that too). Her children were to be humble, to go out into the world with a quiet sense of pride of who they were and where they came from. People were to be treated equally and judged on their merit and their character only. She was a quiet course-corrector, believing in life lessons, some harder than others, and trusted that you would learn from your mistakes with a gentle prod and a sharp eye overseeing your progress. An honest day’s work created a good night’s rest but fun was not to be turned down either, life was to be lived! Her family thanks everyone for providing color to our mother’s life. She enjoyed her interactions with every one of you that knew her. Every baby and mother in any store that allowed her to look, exclaim, and provide a piece of advice, every store worker that served her and took pleasure from whatever her remark might have been, and every person that opened themselves up for a conversation with her. We especially thank all those that were gracious with her repeated questions, phone calls, and stories in her later years, for those that kept an eye out for her bright blue Dodge Journey on the roads in and around Gorham and Windham, and the Gorham House caregivers that lived in her past with her during her final year. Janet was predeceased by all of her siblings, her husband Harry, her daughter-in-law Ann (Simpson) Bell, and her son-in-law Kris Penisten. She is survived and celebrated by her 6 children; Ann Penisten of Swansea, Massachusetts, Barbara and Gary Winship of Windham, David and Dottie Bell of Waterford, Peter Bell and partner Krista Clark of Waterford, Connie and Steve Herrick of North Gorham, and Julia and Jim Hubbard, also of North Gorham. She is revered, loved, and respected by her 12 grandchildren; Greg and Sarah Pennisten of Providence, Rhode Island, Oliver Winship of Hartford, Maine, Edwin Winship of Windham, Millie Winship of Windham, Jennifer Bell of North Gorham, Brandon Bell of Naples, Seth Bell of Waterford, Eben Bell of Portland, Oregon, McKayla Mendoza of Miami, Florida, Christian Hubbard of JBLM, Washington, and Charles Hubbard, of Bangor, Maine. Janet never stopped learning and delighted in all stories, to that end, donation in lieu of flowers should be sent to the North Gorham Public Library, 2 Standish Neck Road, Gorham, ME 04038. Visiting Hours will be held on May 12, 2023 from 2-4PM at Dolby, Blais & Segee, 434 River Rd., Windham, ME. A Memorial Service for Janet will be held on Saturday, May 13, 2023 at the United Church of Christ, 4 Standish Neck Rd. in Gorham, ME at 11AM.

Our most sincere sympathies to the family and friends of Janet B Bell August 4 1928 December 19 2022.

Blais & Hay Funeral Home

Death notice for the town of: Westbrook, state: Maine

death notice Janet B Bell August 4 1928 December 19 2022

obituary notice Janet B Bell August 4 1928 December 19 2022

Posted in Blais & Hay Funeral Home, Maine, Westbrook and tagged .


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