WESTBROOK — Throughout her life, Theresa Harris took great pleasure in helping others.

As a stay-at-home mother, she raised six children yet always found time to help her neighbors with small chores.

“She was very giving and loving,” said her daughter Patricia Randall. “She taught us good lessons in life, that’s for sure.”

Mrs. Harris died Monday. She was 81.

When her friend Rachel Davan struggled with ALS – Lou Gehrig’s disease – Mrs. Harris would visit her at the Springbrook Center. She helped her friend at the nursing home until Davan died, then continued to volunteer there for 16 years, ultimately becoming a resident.

Her efforts were honored recently at the “Remember Me” ceremony in Augusta.

“It was kind of a lifetime achievement award,” her daughter said, for which Springbrook nominated her.

As a stay-at-home mother, Mrs. Harris was always cooking and baking for her family. Randall remembers the bread her mother made and how, as a child, she “hated it.”

“We’d have these huge, thick sandwiches. All (the children) wanted was Wonderbread,” she said. “But all the kids at school would always change with us, because they wanted homemade bread.”

Mrs. Harris also sewed clothing for her children. As a result, Randall said, she and her sisters all know how to sew. They also learned how to manage a large household.

“We all learned how to be conservative and save so we had enough money to buy what we would want,” she said.

Mrs. Harris and her husband of 63 years, Richard Harris, did everything together. He drove wherever they went, and Randall said that may be why her mother never got her driver’s license.

“She always called herself the ‘Westbrook Streetwalker,’” her daughter said. “Even going for the Thanksgiving turkey, she’d walk to Hannaford and carry the 25-pound turkey home.”

In their years of retirement, Mrs. Harris and her husband, who died in March, were members of the Westbrook Senior Citizens and traveled frequently. Having been raised in a strict Irish Catholic home, she enjoyed visiting Ireland.

Her daughter said she had fun wherever she went, simply because of the group with which she traveled. “She was always with a group that she loved being with,” Randall said.

Mrs. Harris’ family, now including five grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren and a great-great-granddaughter, was always most important to her.

Her home was always the gathering place for the growing family.   When Randall’s son got married in Alaska and her daughter got married in Hawaii, Mrs. Harris didn’t hesitate to go. “She was a great Nana,” her daughter said.

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

[email protected]