Sandra Colello, a longtime registered nurse at Maine Medical Center in Portland, died Sunday from injuries she suffered in a fall at her home in Buxton. She was 59.

Family and friends remembered her Tuesday for her bright smile, colorful wardrobe, passion for life – and for the way she took so many young nurses under her wing at Maine Med.

Her son, Reece Colello, 23, of Buxton, said she was loved by many people.

“She was my best friend,” he said. “She did everything with me. She would drop whatever she was doing to hang out with me.”

He remembered the day he traveled to Boston with his mom and a bus full of nurses. She cautioned him that the bus would be all women.

“It didn’t matter to me,” he said. “I got to spend the day with her.”

On Monday, Mrs. Colello’s son brought flowers to the nurses who had worked with her for many years, and they shared stories – and hugs – with him.

Mrs. Colello worked at Maine Med for 35 years, most recently as nurse manager on the sixth floor of the Richards Wing and the second level of the Bean Building.

Deb Bachand, the nurse director for those floors, said Mrs. Colello mentored and trained many young nurses and was loved and respected by the staff and administration.

“We have worked together side by side for the last 31 years,” she said. “She was one of the most wonderful women I’ve ever met in my life. She was caring, compassionate and dedicated to her job. She always had a smile on her face, a positive attitude, and she taught me how to find balance in my life. … She was a friend. I loved her like a sister.”

Mrs. Colello was married to Jim Colello for 28 years and they were the parents of two children.

The couple liked to play golf together and spend time with family and friends. Mrs. Colello also enjoyed snowmobiling and hiking around her camp at Moosehead Lake in Rockwood.

Her brother, Dennis Hoey of Freeport, shared memories of hiking and going to the beach with his sister. He recalled the summers they spent in Bethel as children, and returning to the area every Thanksgiving for many years.

On Thursday night, Mrs. Colello fell at home. She was transported to Maine Med but never regained consciousness. Her family rushed to her bedside and spent the next two days sharing stories, laughing and crying. Her nursing friends popped in to visit and say their goodbyes. She died on Sunday with her family by her side.

“I was so close to my sister,” said Hoey, who is a reporter at the Portland Press Herald. “She was my best friend. We did so much together. She was vibrant and full of life. She always had a smile on her face. She always cheered people up.”

Since the accident, her loved ones have struggled to understand how her life could end so abruptly.

“Death had to sneak up on Sandy. If she saw it coming, she would have fought it off,” said her sister-in-law, Joyce Earle of Freeport. “She wouldn’t have wanted to leave her children and husband. … I’ll miss her laugh and sense of fun. She never took anything too seriously.”

Visiting hours will be held from 2 to 7 p.m. Sunday at Jones-Rich-Hutchins Funeral Home, 199 Woodford St., Portland. The funeral service will be at 11 a.m. Monday at the Lighthouse Christian Center, 636 Spring St., Westbrook.

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