Ruth Margaret Murch Gilpatrick Lane wasn’t the kind of woman who stayed in one place very long.

Her daughter, Robin Thomas of South Portland, said her mother and father would renovate and build houses, usually living in one while working on others and trying to sell them.

“Invariably, the house we were in would sell first,” Thomas said. “By the time I was 14, we had lived in 21 houses.”

Lane died last Tuesday at 70 in Bradenton, Fla., from complications of Alzheimer’s. She had lived in Florida for the last 10 years, but spent most of her life in Augusta, Houlton and Kennebunk.

Lane “always liked to ham it up,” said her son, Thomas Gilpatrick of Bar Harbor.

That led to her acting in stage productions by the Augusta Players.

“Growing up, she would drag me to the players and make me try out,” Gilpatrick said, something he didn’t appreciate until later in life.

Gilpatrick and Thomas often ended up in plays with their mother, and all three were in a performance of “Camelot” together.

Lane was statewide manager for Beacon Way Fabrics and managed the children’s clothing department at a Sears store before becoming a Realtor.

She also wrote children’s books and a novel about a real estate agent who is killed by her client. Gilpatrick said she tried unsuccessfully to get that published and the family may now self-publish it.

Lane also researched the family’s genealogy and arranged a large family get-together of newly discovered relatives in 1990.

“I think we had relatives from all over the state,” Gilpatrick said, “and found out that just because they’re related, they don’t always behave themselves.”

Thomas said her mother wasn’t stuffy, like some of her childhood friends’ mothers were.

At sleepovers, Lane would carry bowls of “eyeballs” (olives) and “brains” (Jello) into the darkened room where the girls were about to go to sleep and spook them with the imagined contents.

Thomas said the thing she remembers most vividly about her mother is that she slept little and did much.

“She would be up until like 3 a.m.,” she said. “We would go to bed and a room would look one way and we’d come down in the morning and the wallpaper had been steamed off and it looked totally different.”

Gilpatrick said his mother’s sense of humor was the strongest feature of her personality.

When she decided that her body would be donated for scientific research after her death, Gilpatrick said, Lane remarked, “that’s a tough way to get into medical school.”

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

[email protected]