FREEPORT – Patricia Shaw had just finished a three-week project in her garden Tuesday afternoon when she suffered an apparent heart attack and died.

“She passed away in her gardens doing what she loved,” her daughter, Jean Marandola, said on Wednesday.

Mrs. Shaw, 83, had a passion for gardening. The gardens in front of her home on Hunter Road showcase a xeriscape landscape design, featuring plants, trees and wildflowers that require less watering; along with other types of hardscape and structural elements, like walking paths and a double pond with fountains and re-circulating water.

Her side yard features raised beds for growing vegetables, sunflowers and herbs.

Mrs. Shaw designed an elaborate rock garden in her back yard, with feeding stations for deer. She also grew peach trees.

“The grounds are beautiful here,” her daughter said, as she was walking through them. “She worked on the gardens every minute she could. She loved being in nature and listening to the birds. It’s such a peaceful place. It was a fitting end. Where she collapsed she fell into soft soil that had already been processed. The soil’s work for the year is done. The gardener is done too.”

She is survived by her husband, Philip E. Shaw Jr. Last month, the couple celebrated their 62nd wedding anniversary. They are former longtime residents of Scarborough.

The Shaws and their daughter owned and operated Soap Bubble Laundromat in Portland’s West End neighborhood for 20 years. Mrs. Shaw served as vice president of the company, and she took an active role in greeting and helping its customers.

Marandola said her mother designed the layout of the laundry and decorated it for each season.

“My mother and I entertained the people washing clothes,” she said. “We met some amazing people doing that work. We made some amazing friends over those years. The West End is a fine neighborhood.”

Outside of work, Mrs. Shaw was an active member of the First Congregational Church in Scarborough. She was a senior deaconess and was active in the women’s fellowship. She also co-chaired the church’s annual Christmas Fair for more than 20 years.

The Shaws sold the laundry in 2004 and moved to Freeport, where they built a house on a piece of family land.

Marandola spoke with affection Wednesday about the relationship her parents shared.

“They had a wonderful time together,” she said. “These aren’t people that bickered or fought. It was a real teamwork effort. Whatever those magic things are that make a marriage work must have been going here. They had solid values and taught me (the same). It was give and take and they worked at it.”

In recent years, Mrs. Shaw had started to develop some health problems. She suffered a mild stroke, and began walking regularly to keep her blood pressure down. In 2008, she had two more strokes, but recovered, and stayed active doing the things she loved, like sewing and gardening.

On Tuesday afternoon, Mrs. Shaw collapsed in her garden just after finishing a project she was working on with her granddaughter’s fiance. Marandola said he ran into the house to call 911, then rushed back to the garden to be by her side. The paramedics tried unsuccessfully to revive her.

“It was a beautiful day. She was doing exactly what she wanted to be doing,” her daughter said. “She believed that when it was your time, it was your time to go. I believe yesterday was her time to go. It’s a blessing.” 

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

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