DURHAM – Jessica Abbott was a natural in the retail business, and had just moved up to assistant manager at Nordica Theatre in Freeport when her life was cut tragically short at the age of 20, her supervisor said.

Abbott, of Durham, died in a one-car accident on the night of July 19 on Stackpole Road in Durham. Funeral services were held last Saturday at Wilson Funeral Home in Gray.

Terri Bean, general manager at Nordica Theatre, was close friends with Abbott’s mother, Tina Campbell. Abbott had been at the theater a little more than two years, Bean said.

“She wasn’t only my employee, she was a like a member of my family,” Bean said. “She was very good with the customers. She was always smiling – always pleasant. She would give the shirt off her back for you.”

Kyle Tilsley, a Maine State Police trooper, said that Abbott’s Honda CRV veered off the road at around 9:30 p.m., and struck trees. The impact caused Abbott to be ejected from the SUV, and rescue workers found her dead at the scene, Tilsley said. Tilsley said police noticed no skid marks at the scene of the accident.

Steve McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety, said Monday he has heard nothing new on the accident investigation. Police have 30 days from the date of an accident to file a crash report, McCausland said.

Bean said that Abbott was a well-known figure around Freeport Village Station, having worked in shops there.

“At Village Station, everybody knew her,” Bean said. “She’s always worked in retail. She was a natural for it, too.”

Bean said that Abbott still lived at home with her mother and stepfather, Tim Huntley, and her older sister, Ashley.

“I had told Tina (Thursday), I just can’t imagine what you’re going through,” she said. “She was loved by a lot of people. It’s a shock, all the way around.”

Abbott had both a “big sister” and a “little sister” image, Bean said.

“She loved her little cousin and took her places,” Bean said. “Even my daughter called her. Jess was her little sister.”

As Bean said, Abbott had her career mapped out. The 2012 Freeport High School graduate was deeply involved in programs such as Jobs for Maine’s Graduates, and Skills USA, a partnership of students, teachers and industry leaders helping to ready students for the workplace. Abbott also studied culinary arts at the Region 10 Technical High School in Brunswick.

Jay Harper, a Jobs for Maine’s Future specialist and Abbott’s instructor at Freeport High, saw a huge difference in Abbott during her senior year.

“JMG made her feel a part, then she became an officer,” Harper said Monday. “She really found her voice during that class. She became connected with a few friends and became vice president. She became so much more confident that senior year. You could just see her blossom.”

Harper said that Abbott was anxious to get out of school and into the workplace. Jobs for Maine’s Graduates keeps track of graduated seniors for a year, and Harper did just that with Abbott.

“A job she had in Wyoming didn’t work out,” Harper said. “Jess was fantastic. She told me what was going on. She appreciated Freeport more when she got back.”

Harper called Abbott’s death “ridiculously sad.”

Abbott’s favorite job was babysitting, and playing the big-sister role. She enjoyed four-wheeling, the beach, movies and bicycling with her friends.

She also found time to travel, having made trips to Rhode Island and Wyoming. She had planned a trip to New Jersey.

Donations for Abbott’s family are being accepted under the name of Jessica’s Light, at Bath Savings Institution 424 U.S. Route 1, Yarmouth, ME 04096. Donations also are being accepted at Nordica Theatre.

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