Thursday, December 5, 2013
By Melanie Creamer firstname.lastname@example.org
WOOLWICH - Roberta "Joan" Lipfert was a loving wife and mother who cared deeply about her community.
Roberta Lipfert was a founder of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association and helped organize its Common Ground Fair.
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.
She was married to Donald Lipfert for nearly 62 years. Together, they became founding members of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association. She worked in the association's office for many years and helped organize its popular Common Ground Fair.
"She and my father believed that we're all in this together, and that we can do a lot more together than separately," her son, Nathan Lipfert of Woolwich, said Monday. "They believed in doing as much for others as they could. They didn't have a huge amount of money, so they contributed a lot in terms of time."
Mrs. Lipfert died on July 3 with her family by her side. She was 84.
She was remembered by her children Monday as strong, cheerful and positive woman who rallied behind conservation and education causes.
Mrs. Lipfert never forgot her roots. She grew up in the village of Pennington, near Lymington in the south of England. Her obituary said she was deeply affected by World War II. She remembered "German bombers passing overhead, and saw planes coming down in flames during the Battle of Britain."
After the war, she moved to Ottawa, Ontario, to live with her sister's family.
In 1949, she met Donald Lipfert. A year later, they were married.
The Lipferts lived in Middletown, Conn., before moving to Maine in 1963. They lived in a 1780s farmhouse in Woolwich that was set on 160 acres of woods and farmland.
They rented the land to farmers and raised chickens, goats and sheep. She tended to the animals and maintained a half-acre garden.
She was a homemaker in her early years. Her son spoke with admiration of how she balanced her roles as a mother and a wife with her desire to help others.
She opened her heart and home to raising many foster children and helping foreign exchange students.
"She was a great mom," her son said. "She was always there and always supportive of our crazy ideas. She made life in a drafty old house a lot of fun and surprisingly comfortable."
In the 1970s, she and her husband established the Jacataqua School at their home, an alternative high school. She also volunteered at Woolwich Central School.
Mrs. Lipfert was an outspoken advocate for organic gardening. She was active in the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association and worked in its office for many years.
She later took a position as a receptionist at the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath, and eventually became a volunteer for the museum.
Her son, a senior curator at the museum, said she worked for him in the library.
"She would do anything I asked her to," he said. "She was up for anything. She got some big projects done for us."
Mrs. Lipfert took what she learned to the Woolwich Historical Society, where she helped to set up an archive system.
In 2009, she and her husband moved to the Plant Home in Bath. He died in April 2011.
"We're orphans now," her son said. "I'll miss that connection with England ... with the World War II generation."
Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at: