SOUTH PORTLAND — Eleanor Wise Dow, 97, died Jan. 20, in her home, where she had been lovingly cared for by her daughter, Barbara Dow Nucci.

Dow was born May 6, 1916, in Gardiner, the first of four children to Frank A. and Anna McNally Wise. Their home was a happy gathering place for all their friends. As a young girl, Dow loved sports, dancing, music and theater. She graduated from Gardiner High School in 1933 and Gorham Normal School in 1935. Her first teaching job, at the age of 19, was in the small town of Clinton. She later taught in Gardiner, and then in South Portland at the Boys’ Training Center and at Redbank School, where her success at teaching children to read was considered extraordinary. She retired in 1979.

In 1941, she married Richard Whitmore Dow, of Augusta. They made their first home in Winthrop, Mass., returning to Maine after World War II to settle in South Portland. Dow was a Girl Scout leader and an active communicant of St. Luke’s Cathedral. In 1976, Dow and her husband were among the first volunteers for Hospice of Maine.

The couple also were enthusiastic travelers and toured many countries in the Americas and Europe, especially Italy, which she visited 29 times to visit their daughter Barbara and her family. Dow and her husband were committed and involved grandparents. Her enthusiasm for life and its adventures were well-known. She had many interests, including bridge, golf, reading, gardening, handicrafts and baking sweets. 

Dow was predeceased by her four siblings, Frank A. Wise Jr., Marion Wise Colcord, Virginia Wise Cross and Elizabeth Wise Hersom; and two children, Richard W. Dow Jr., and Margaret Dow LaBella.

She is survived by six grandchildren, Domenico and Enrico Nucci, Andrea Nucci, Caroline Eleanor, John Richard and Michael Charles LaBella; two great-granddaughters, Valentina and Eleonora Nucci; granddaughter-in-law, Cristina Sichel Nucci; two sons-in-law, Giovanni Nucci and Charles LaBella; and many nieces, nephews and cousins.

The family is grateful for the expert and compassionate assistance of VNA Home Health and Hospice of Southern Maine, especially that of Shelley Cochrane, and for the devoted care from Donna Tracy and Elleza Helmen of Home Helpers of Southern Maine.

Her family will gather in Maine over the summer for a committal service at Brooklawn Memorial Park.

Dow wished that donations may be made in her memory to VNA Home Health and Hospice of Southern Maine, 50 Foden Road, South Portland, ME 04106.

Arrangements are under the care of Advantage Funeral Services, 981 Forest Ave., Portland. 

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