WELLS – Barbara Gerrish thought giving back to others in her community was therapeutic.

For more than a decade, Mrs. Gerrish volunteered regularly for organizations supplying Meals on Wheels to home-bound residents in Kennebunk and Wells. In addition, she helped local elderly residents with transportation or other daily needs.

“The adage, it is better to give than receive is certainly true,” her daughter Elizabeth Gerrish Wagner said. “She had a lot of tragedy in her life and this began to make her whole.”

Wagner remembered her mother, who died Wednesday, as a “very sweet person.” Mrs. Gerrish was 75.

Born and raised in Rockland, Mrs. Gerrish was the daughter of prominent aviator Stanley Boyton, who is remembered on Rockland City Hall’s wall of fame.

Shortly after graduating Rockland High School, she married Wayne Lee Gerrish.

While her husband was attending Tufts Dental School, Mrs. Gerrish worked to supplement the family’s income, her daughter said. She later assisted him at his dental practice on Colonial Drive in Kennebunk. When he hired a secretary to run the front desk, Mrs. Gerrish stepped out of the office and into her work with the community, Wagner said.

Mrs. Gerrish’s love for her family was evident in her involvement. Nearly every weekend during Maine winters, the family would frequent local ski resorts.

During the same time, Mrs. Gerrish cared for her ill daughter Emi-Lee Gerrish.

“She was a wonderful caregiver to her,” Wagner said, remembering her sibling’s need for dialysis treatment and the attention her mother gave throughout the years of her illness.

When Emi-Lee Gerrish died in 1979, at age 22, it was devastating for the family, Wagner said.

“The adversity and the tragedy that my mother lived through did not make her bitter,” she said, adding her favorite quality about Mrs. Gerrish was that it “tempered her spirit in a way that made her content with life as it was.”

“It’s just amazing work to see a person come through some very devastating tragedy like that and remain an upbeat person,” her daughter said.

On July 6, the family gathered to celebrate Mrs. Gerrish’s 75th birthday. The family presented her with a book of pictures and letters from family members.

“You have been the kind of aunt for me that, throughout my life, an aunt with whom I could bare my soul,” a letter from Liz Elowich said.

Elowich continues, Mrs. Gerrish “randomly sent me sweet little cards to let me know you were thinking of me.”

“She was just cherished by her family,” Wagner said. “She was very much loved.”

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

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