June 18, 2013

Feature obituary: Edith Libby, 102, gifted seamstress who gave to community

By Melanie Creamer mcreamer@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

WINDHAM – Edith Libby, the oldest resident at New Marblehead North, who had a passion for knitting and was recognized with two Governor's Service Awards for donations to Mercy Hospital, died Saturday after a brief illness. She was 102.

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Edith Libby holds a plaque presented to her in March as the oldest resident in all of Avesta’s 68 properties. Mrs. Libby died Saturday at age 102 after a brief illness.

Contributed photo

PASSAGES

Each day the newsroom selects one obituary and seeks to learn more about the life of a person who has lived and worked in Maine. We look for a person who has made a mark on the community or the person's family and friends in lasting ways.

Mrs. Libby was recognized in March as the oldest resident at all of Avesta's 68 properties. She had lived at New Marblehead Manor since it opened in 1989. She led a craft group there and taught other seniors and visitors to knit.

She was remembered by her friends this week as a gifted seamstress, who generously gave back to the community.

Mrs. Libby was an active member of Mercy Hospital Nifty Knitters. A close friend said she knitted thousands of newborn sweater sets and made clothes for cancer patients at Mercy. She also made knit hats, mittens and scarves for people in need at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church. Her contributions earned her two Governor's Service Awards for volunteering more than 1,500 hours.

"Knitting is nothing if it doesn't go to some use," said her friend Jean Sequeira. "The knitting kept her busy. It kept her mind going. The things she made were excellent really beautiful pieces."

Mrs. Libby grew up in Rumford. Her father died when she was 5. She attended schools in Rumford and graduated from Stevens High School. Soon after, she boarded a train to New Jersey to take care of a sick aunt. She hopped a train to Portland at age 20 and worked odd jobs as a housekeeper and waitress.

She was a loving wife to Stanley C. Libby. The couple lived in Yarmouth and raised a son.

In the 1960s, her husband sustained a head injury while working at a shoe factory. She went to work at the local IGA to support the family. She balanced work with taking care of her husband until he died in 1968. She never remarried.

She worked another five years and retired at age 62. Sequeira said she immersed herself in knitting after her husband died.

Mrs. Libby also outlived her siblings, her son and daughter-in-law and scores of friends. Though she was the only surviving member of her immediate family, she was never alone. She had many friends at New Marblehead North.

She lived independently there until March, when she became ill. She was diagnosed with colon cancer in April. Sequeira said she chose not to receive treatment.

"She has always been a fighter. If she wanted to fight, I would have been right there for her," Sequeira said. "I admired her stubborn nature the fact that she survived so much. When you think about what has happened in the past 100 years and how the world has changed she rolled with that."

At 102, Mrs. Libby was not quite old enough to receive the Boston Post Cane. Linda Morrell, town clerk in Windham, said the current holder, Clista Loring, is 105.

 

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:

mcreamer@pressherald.com

 

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