SACO — Her two children agree that Esther Emmons’ optimistic outlook on life “helped with her longevity.”

“She wanted to try to make the most of each day,” said her son, Willis Emmons. “She really had quite a good spirit to her.”

Mrs. Emmons, who died Wednesday at age 97, kept a good attitude and was willing to do anything to feel better physically, said her daughter, Suzanne Emmons.

Born on Jan. 19, 1913, Mrs. Emmons lived through a lot of history.

She graduated from the Farmington Normal School in 1936 with a bachelor’s degree in home economics, then worked as a home service representative for Central Maine Power Co., showing customers how to use electric appliances.

“Because electricity became widely available for homes, all of a sudden these appliances were now available and no one knew how to use them,” her son said.

In the mid-1950s, a spot on WMTW-TV’s “Cooking Can Be Fun” made Mrs. Emmons a bit of a local celebrity.

Her son was too young at the time to remember much about the cooking show, but her daughter remembers it as being very exciting.

“It was a big deal watching her give recipes and that sort of thing,” she said. “It was exciting to say, ‘My mother’s on television.’“

Suzanne Emmons remembers one episode in particular, when her mother made “Sue’s Favorite.” It was Mrs. Emmons’ recipe for oatmeal cookies, but she used her daughter’s name because the cookies were truly her favorites.

“She was a natural at the cooking school stuff,” her daughter said.

About the same time Mrs. Emmons was sharing her recipes on television, she finally was hired for the job she trained for in college. Through 1979, she was a home economics teacher at C.K. Burns Junior High and Saco Middle School. She taught the basics of running a home to children in grades 6 through 8.

Her children, who were her students while they were in school, said she taught cooking, sewing and their least favorite, budgeting. Suzanne said they had the most fun learning how to cook.

“She was very good in that end, as far as teaching, and she loved it, every bit of it,” she said.

Throughout her 25-year career as a teacher, Mrs. Emmons not only taught students, but helped to train aspiring home economics teachers. Her daughter said the young women her mother mentored became like “big sisters” during their stay in Mrs. Emmons’ classroom.

If Mrs. Emmons’ name doesn’t sound familiar to students who attended those schools from the mid-1950s through the late 1970s, it’s probably for a good reason.

“A lot of her students may remember her as ‘EE’ or ‘Double E,’ ” her son said. “She left lots of notes, and that’s always the way she signed them.”

 

Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at:

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