Throughout her life, Elsie Peters of Gorham thought of others before she thought of herself.

When her father died, her mother and one of her brothers moved to Portland to live with her, and she became the family’s primary supporter.

It was a role that drove away a suitor, who didn’t want to remain involved with Mrs. Peters if she didn’t stop supporting her family, said her son Stephen Peters. “She was unwilling to do that,” he said.

Mrs. Peters died Saturday. She was 89.

Growing up in Davidson, a small town northeast of Millinocket that no longer exists, Mrs. Peters lived a simple country life. Her father was the town’s blacksmith, and the family harvested fruit and vegetables throughout the summer, canning and preserving everything they could.

When she was 17, Mrs. Peters received a scholarship to attend a business school in Portland. After graduation, she was the first person in her class to land a job, as a bookkeeper for Central Maine Power Co.

“That was when bookkeeping was done in paper and pencil. It called for a sharp mind, good math skills and quick thinking,” all of which she had, her son said.

Mrs. Peters believed that if her work shift was from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., she should be at her desk “in high gear” right at 7:30 a.m. and stay that way all day, he said.

“We talk about The Greatest Generation,” her son said. “She typified many of those values people had that made them a great generation.”

After a brief courtship, she married a longtime family friend, Charles Peters, in August 1949. Immediately after their wedding, they started a family that grew to include six children.

Her daughter Ann Peters Jewett said her mother’s faith was very strong.

“She walked the walk and talked the talk. She said what she believed and never wavered,” she said. “We respected her for that.”

After a few years in Portland, the family settled in Gorham. From the late 1950s until this year, Mrs. Peters lived in a home that her husband built for the family.

“She was a very gracious mother, almost like you’d see on a TV series,” her son said. There often was a fresh batch of cookies waiting for the children when they came home from school, and Mrs. Peters always welcomed their friends, he said.

While she had various options later in life, Mrs. Peters stayed in her home in Gorham until August.

“She loved her house, loved being there and cooking all her own meals,” her son said. “It was that fierce, independent spirit.”

 

Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at: [email protected]