Joanne Libby Hays

PORTLAND – On a lucky Friday, the 13th in August, 1926, Joanne Elizabeth Libby came into the world weighing a mere 3 pounds, 12 ounces. She survived, and the world was a better place because she did. She passed peacefully on August 24, 2020.

Everyone knew her as Josie. Her family knew her as Nana. She brought happiness and joy to her 94 trips around the sun, and lived her life filled with love, enthusiasm and curiosity, always generous and kind, compassionate, quick-witted, and wickedly funny. A social butterfly, she made lifelong friends wherever she went, and above all, Josie cherished her family.

A true Mainer, Josie attended Portland public schools, then went on to Parsonsfield Seminary and Gould Academy, finally earning a Home Economics degree in 1948 from the University of Maine in Orono. At Orono, Josie was a member of the Tri Delta sorority and elected the Social Chairman to welcome home the local soldiers from WWII. Her father, who had returned from the war, came to school dressed in his Colonel Army uniform to take Josie and her friends out to lunch, a day she would never forget.

After graduating college, Josie married David Ware Hays and honeymooned at the iconic Niagara Falls. She worked at Owen Moore, and Porteous, Mitchell and Braun in Portland, and then became a bank teller at Norway Savings Bank. Overcoming some initial challenges, she gave birth to three children, Susan, Buzz and Daniel. She became a stay-at-home mom until her husband Dave’s death in 1967. She then began full-time work as a bookkeeper, notably for MacDonald Motors. She also took side jobs typing manuscripts for local authors, all while raising her three children, running to and from school, driving to band and dance rehearsals, cooking, baking, knitting, and organizing for community events. In the mid-’90s, Josie reconnected with her ParSem high school sweetheart, Fred Glover. They married soon after for the final year of Fred’s life.

Josie always had a positive outlook and a bright smile on her face, no matter how challenging the situation. She was humble and kind, a generous spirit, and a great listener. She made time for whoever needed her advice, and touched people’s hearts all around her. She was so well known in Bridgton, that when her son, Dan, attended college at Bowdoin, he would send postcards to her simply addressed: “Josie, 04009,” and they would arrive straight to her mailbox without delay.

The Hays Family household was the epicenter of school parties, homecoming-float building, endless bake-sale baking, and filled with music and laughter. Josie created a warm and welcoming home where countless memories were born. She would often be found during get-togethers sitting at the kitchen table, deep in conversation with one of her children’s friends from school. Many of them came to know her as their second mom (and they still refer to her as “Ma Hays”). She was also an officer in the American Field Service (AFS) at that time, making lasting friendships from around the world.

Josie had many talents and interests, and pursued them all with great passion. She was a meticulous bookkeeper – to the penny every time! Her knitting skills were unparalleled. The blankets, mittens, scarfs, and wristers she lovingly created have been keeping family and friends warm during cold winter nights for years. She participated in countless craft fairs selling her knitted handiwork to happy customers. She even invented a small knitted bag called the Pooch Pouch for dog owners to hold their waste bags while walking their dogs. An avid reader, an expert puzzle-solver, and worthy competitor at the card table, there was Bingo, Dominos, Mexican Train, Yahtzee, LCR, and the list goes on. Josie kept an active and inquisitive mind until her last days, with library books, puzzle books, and her well-sharpened pencil always at arm’s length. She never missed a family members’ birthday either. She had the uncanny ability to send birthday and celebration cards through the unpredictable U.S. Mail and somehow the cards arrived without fail, on the precise day of the event. We still can’t figure out how she did it. One of life’s great unsolved mysteries.

In every community where Josie lived, she volunteered for causes that were close to her heart. In Bridgton, she was an active officer for the Hospital Guild at Northern Cumberland Memorial Hospital, one of Bridgton’s Bicentennial Belles and an emissary to Siberia with Peace Fleece. She also helped oversee the scholarship fund in her son Dan’s name at Lake Region High School. When she moved to Harrison, the most enduring and treasured of her volunteer work was helping to save the historic Deertrees Theatre in 1985. Josie remained on the board there and was the box office manager for over 25 years. While living in South Paris, her knitting group would travel to Boston to teach knitting at The Women’s Lunch Place, a homeless shelter for women. Back in Maine, Josie knitted countless beanies for preemies at the local hospitals. She was also a member of The Red Hat Society. At Park Danforth in Portland where she lived, Josie volunteered at the commissary, and participated in many of the craft fairs and special events there. Other notable accomplishments that offer a clue to her charming and effervescent personality include a bachelor’s degree she earned in square dancing in 1983, and the esteemed honor of being chosen as Bridgton’s Winter Carnival Queen in 1992.

Josie took great pleasure in spending time with her family and adored her four grandsons, relishing every moment with them. At family celebrations, she was the first one on the dance floor and often led the conga lines! Josie’s adventurous spirit took her around the country and around the world, but she was never happier than when she was back home. Holidays and extended family gatherings were a highlight for Josie, when her children and grandchildren would gather from far flung locations to regale her with their tales of adventure, bearing trinkets from exotic places, and most importantly, to work with her on the family’s devilishly challenging wooden jigsaw puzzles, hand-crafted by her father when she was just a child in the 1930s. The hours spent with her family and friends, talking about their lives while trying to find that one tough puzzle piece, were priceless times together.

Josie is predeceased by her parents, Theresa Churchill Lord and Donald Maxwell Libby; sister, Kathryn Libby Tucker and husband Frank; her two husbands, David Ware Hays and Rev. Frederick Glover; and her beloved youngest son, Daniel Hays.

She is survived by her daughter, Susan Whalen, husband Dan, their sons, James and Thomas; and her son, Buzz Hays, his wife Anna and twin sons, Benjamin and Will; many close relatives, and the multitude of friends whose lives she touched along the way.

A celebration of Josie’s life will be held in the future when family and friends can all gather together as one again.

To honor Josie’s memory, please consider donating to

Deertrees Theatre,

156 Deertrees Rd.,

Harrison, ME 04040

http://www.deertrees-theatre.org

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