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This week’s edition!

Remembering Hope Weston

Weston displays her artwork on the all-occasion cards she made for the Schooner Open House in September 2017.

“It is with sadness that we inform our members of the passing of our long-time friend, Hope Weston. Hope, who had been an active Senior College member for many years, as recently as this past semester, passed away yesterday, January 9,  at the age of 103.”

We received this sad message about our dear Hope’s passing from the Board of Directors at USM’s Lewiston Auburn Senior College. Our Senior College Logo was centered above, giving it a personal touch.

Many of us knew, as word spread quickly through Schooner Retirement Community, where she lived the past dozen or more years. At age 103 and six months, Hope would have been 104 this July 6, 2019. She was the oldest member of Senior College.

Hope led an interesting life. She was born in Manila, Philippine Islands on July 6, 1915 to American-born parents Eugene E. Wing of Augusta and Nellie McBeth Wing of Fairfield. Her father held a high position in the banking industry and they lived a comfortable life. The household had a cook, houseboy, maid, gardener, chauffeur, and a nanny. I was fascinated when she told me that.

Hope said her mother made short work of the nanny and chose to be the sole caretaker of her only child. Mother and daughter went everywhere together and enjoyed a warm, close bond.

I met Hope years ago with Readers Theater, when we visited Schooner to perform our skits and sketches. Hope was always in the audience. Later, through Senior College, we became close friends. Hope signed up for every excursion we had, chartered bus trips with 45 registrants to musicals, art museums, art galleries – Hope was interested in everything.

I started visiting her at Schooner and we enjoyed conversations on many common interests. I learned that she was legally blind but still did lots of craft work. She took classes at Sr.  College and never missed a class that Charles Plummer taught at Schooner. She was up on current events in Lewiston-Auburn and in the world. She was just so interesting. Her goal was to do everything she could, for as long as she could.

I loved hearing her stories of growing up in Manila. From an early age, Hope learned the proper etiquette, social niceties, and obligations of what was expected by society for a young lady in Manila. She attended the important dinners, dances, and parties of the young social set and was privy to many business and social events her father’s position required him to attend. She told me that, as a young child, she was always treated as an adult. She learned the role of an adult early on.    

Hope told me the American Schools in Manila were more advanced than the schools in the States. Many times classes had only five students. “That was good,” she said, “as we received more individual attention.”   

Hope and her mother made several trips to the States by steamships as there was no opportunity for air flights in those days. The trips were lengthy, with many ports-of-call. Hope had an early education of the world and its different cultures, cuisine, customs, and languages. “My mother made sure I saw all the historic sites along the way,” she would say, laughing.

Fast-forward to Hope’s graduation from the University of Maine at Orono, where she met her husband, Lowell Nathan Weston of Augusta. They married after graduation and, as was the custom in those days, the bride returned to her homeland for a large, lavish wedding in Manila on December 25, 1937.

Leaving Manila, the newlyweds settled in Augusta. Hope was on her own; there was no household help. Undaunted, she took on the role of wife and homemaker with enthusiasm  and dedication. She learned quickly and became an excellent cook.

She was the hostess of many dinner parties, entertaining family and friends with elaborate meals served on elegant china with linen tablecloths, napkins, candelabra, stemware, and silverware brought from her homeland. Hope would tell me about Mrs. Hildreth, the wife of Maine Governor Horace Hildreth, inviting her as co-hostess whenever she hosted social gatherings for women at the Blaine House. Hope was in her element, welcoming the women and making them comfortable.

Our visits flew by as we talked about her life, her successful self-taught ventures into watercolor painting, quilting, rug hooking, decoupage, artwork, gardening, photography, writing, and sewing. She learned by doing, designing and sewing much of her wardrobe.

And I, along with many others, will attest to how impeccably she dressed every day.It was a delight to see what she wore and how she wore it. Everything was coordinated and accessorized perfectly in every detail – ear rings, bracelets, necklace or scarf, hair perfectly coiffed, and always stockings. I never saw her in pants.

Hope was a lady, refined in manner and speech, soft-spoken, smiling and welcoming to everyone. She was a role model for aging gracefully and productively. She  was loved and respected by everyone at Schooner, residents and staff alike.    

A huge accomplishment in Hope’s life was writing a memoir of her life for her sons, their wives, her grandchildren, and all who would follow. It took her three years to write this labor of love, entitled “Hope’s Two Lives: Eighty Years from the Far East to the State of Maine” and published in 2007. She also created “Mumsy’s Cookbook,” a collection of her favorite recipes illustrated with her colorful artwork, for her family to enjoy.  

She was a family woman and cherished her sons, Bob and his wife, Mickie, Jim and his wife Judy, and her six grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren, seven great-great grandchildren, and one great-great-great grandson.

I looked through a lot of pictures and thought you might like to see Hope enjoying some of her activities and interests.

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