WINDHAM — The picture accompanying this feature obituary tells the story of a woman who rose above many hardships, laughed as often as she could, and dedicated her life to her two children.

The photograph shows Alice Larsen sitting between her daughters, Carol McNaboe of Standish and Janice Powers of Westbrook, at a family gathering on Crystal Lake in Gray in 1985.

“It was her favorite picture,” McNaboe said as she began to cry Tuesday. “We all had a good time and it showed on our faces. That’s how we were when the three of us got together. … I’m sorry that it’s ended. I’ve had some really good memories looking at that picture.”

Mrs. Larsen, who worked as an office assistant for Central Maine Power Co. for more than 30 years and was considered the matriarch of her family and her community, died unexpectedly Sunday. She was 95.

Mrs. Larsen was a first-generation Armenian American, born in Portland in 1916. She grew up at the bottom of Munjoy Hill, one of four children in her family. She graduated from Portland High School in 1934.

She was married to George Larsen for 24 years, but they were together for only a short time. He left his wife when their children were 11 and 13 years old. She never remarried.

“She was a single parent in the 1950s, when it wasn’t all that popular,” said Carol McNaboe. “She worked hard for everything she had. … I couldn’t have asked for a better mother. She was always there. She was our mother and she was proud of that.”

Her daughters reminisced about the family outings at Powers’ home on Crystal Lake. They talked about the annual “bake off,” for which everyone cooked a dish. Mrs. Larsen judged the family competition. Powers noted that she never won.

“It started as a joke and (became) a tradition. She looked forward to it every year,” Powers said. “She lived her life like it was a special event. She faced life’s ups and downs with gusto.”

After working for CMP, Mrs. Larsen became a receptionist and switchboard operator at St. Joseph’s Manor.

“She loved that job,” Powers said. “She loved to talk on the telephone. She was friendly and people responded to her.”

Mrs. Larsen also volunteered for several local organizations, including St. Joseph’s Manor and the Independent Transportation Network. She also was a longtime member of the Portland Armenian Club who took great pride in her heritage.

McNaboe said her mother was well-liked in the community and had many loyal friends.

“My mother gave of herself and expected nothing in return,” she said. “Her door was always open to her friends. She was a good listener. She put people at ease.”

Powers talked a little about their friendship, too. She choked up as she called herself, her sister and their mother “The three Musketeers.”

“It’s always been the three of us,” Powers said. “Now, we are two. I’ve just wanted to call her so many times to tell her little things that have been going on. Of course I can’t call her. I miss her terribly.”

 

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at: [email protected]