GRAY – Family members and friends will gather today to celebrate and honor Helen Alexander, a loving grandmother and dedicated volunteer at Mercy Hospital who died on Monday. She was 77.

Mrs. Alexander volunteered at the hospital for 17 years, most recently in medical records. In 2008, she was recognized for giving more than 5,000 hours of service.

Mrs. Alexander was remembered on Wednesday as a strong, independent and generous woman who always put her family first.

She was married to Edward Alexander for nearly 20 years and worked with him on the family’s 200-acre dairy farm. The couple raised one daughter, Susan Palmer, who lives a stone’s throw away from her mother’s home on McConkey Road.

Mrs. Alexander’s life was turned upside down in 1975, when her husband left one afternoon to drive into Portland to get a part for their furnace. He had heart failure.

“I was only 12 years old,” Palmer said. “It was pretty devastating for us. When he died, she was left with 30 milking cows that needed attention every day, twice a day. Our family, friends and local farmers pitched in to help us through.”

Mrs. Alexander lived on the farm until about five years ago, when she bought a newer home on the same road.

Palmer said that she was friends with her mother, and that they looked out for each other. She said her mother was very close to Palmer’s three sons.

Palmer said her mother always made time for them and attended many of their sporting and school events over the years.

“We’ve always lived right near each other,” she said. “She was like a second mother to my boys. They saw her every day. She was a really big part of their lives.”

Mrs. Alexander had a passion for traveling and enjoyed her life to the fullest. After her husband died, she went on many trips with her sister Lorraine and brother-in-law Gordon, traveling to Hawaii, the Caribbean, Mexico, Spain and Portugal.

One of her most memorable trips was to Finland, where she visited her father’s childhood home and met his family.

Mrs. Alexander’s health took a turn for the worse this fall, when doctors discovered she had cancer and other medical issues.

Palmer said she was with her mother on the day she died. She held her mother’s hand and talked to her for most of the day.

“It was a nice day, even though she left,” her daughter said. “I’ve had my moments today. I’m going to miss her.”

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

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