GRAY — Karen M. Sanborn had a soft spot for animals.

Mrs. Sanborn, who died on Friday at age 53, had volunteered at the Animal Refuge League in Westbrook for the past 15 years and went above and beyond to care for animals that were most helpless.

Her sister, Stephanie Neuts of Portland, said she fostered litters of kittens from the shelter and regularly took in stray cats and dogs. She once rescued a chicken that was wandering loose in Scarborough and found it a new home, her sister said.

“She crumbled up some crackers to lure it closer, and she grabbed it by the legs and put it in the box,” Neuts said. “She was very proud.”

Mrs. Sanborn’s commitment extended beyond the shelter. For the past few years, she volunteered at Paws in the Park Dog Walk, an annual event at Deering Oaks to raise money for the animal shelter. In lieu of flowers, the family asked that donations could be made in Mrs. Sanborn’s memory to the Animal Refuge League.

Mrs. Sanborn was remembered by her family on Sunday as a compassionate and free-spirited woman who lived life to its fullest.

She was president and CFO of PDQ Express Courier Inc. in South Portland, a company she started with her husband, Jeffrey D. Sanborn. The couple was married for 24 years and enjoyed taking long rides together on his motorcycle.

“She loved being free untethered,” said Emily Gerardo, 32, of Portland, the oldest of Mrs. Sanborn’s two children.

Gerardo said Mrs. Sanborn was a good mother who supported her in all her endeavors, from pursuing her passion for art to attending nursing school.

“Some of the most important things I know, I have learned from my mom,” her daughter said. “She was just so selfless.”

Mrs. Sanborn had a passion for gardening and enjoyed collecting birds’ nests.

“She had them all over the house,” her daughter said. “She loved the simplicity of it. She was eco-friendly.”

Mrs. Sanborn grew up in Portland and graduated from Deering High School in 1974.

As a kid, she spent summers at Forest Lake in Gray.

“She loved Forest Lake,” her sister said. “She and my brother Peter spent hours rowing and swimming on the lake. She felt free there.”

Her mother, Phyllis Winfield of Portland, said her daughter was always giving vegetables she grew to family and friends.

“She always thought of everyone else,” her mother said.

Mrs. Sanborn’s father, Richard Foshay of Scarborough, said she had a free spirit and was a good kid.

“I’ll miss her,” Foshay said. “When you lose a child, you feel like you lost part of your life. It’s very tough.”

 

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:

[email protected]