Joan C. (Murphy) Soper

PORTLAND – Joan Soper, 91, of Glenwood Avenue, passed away on Dec. 8, 2020, at her residence. Joan was a gentle, gracious woman with an infectious laugh and a lively spirit. She loved being in the company of family. Whether hosting an afternoon tea for her great-granddaughters or the ladies of the family or planning a traditional holiday meal; getting together with immediate and extended family was always paramount.

Before graduating from Deering High School in 1947, Joan was encouraged to go on a blind date with Cecil Soper, who would later ask for her hand in marriage in1951. Initially and always residing on Glenwood Avenue in Portland, the couple raised their family of four busy, thriving children. The home was a welcoming hub of activity for family and friends; Saturday night dances or card games, automobile repairs and painting in Cecil’s spacious garage or any made up excuse for an impromptu gathering. The Soper home was always an “open house”. Joan’s response to the sometimes troubled or weary was to offer empathy and sustenance. She loved to feed people and was curious to hear their stories. Once, after being introduced to a new brother-in-law, she quizzed him so much, he nick-named her “20 Questions”. A moniker Joan embraced.

As a young woman Joan enjoyed employment and social interaction as a sales associate at Porteous, Mitchell, and Braun, a retail department store on Congress Street in Portland. In later years when the children were grown, she joined her sister Ginger in employ at the Guy Gannet Publishing Company. Joan became a proofreader for The Press Herald, Evening Express and Sunday Telegram, enjoying the challenge of deadlines, camaraderie of co-workers, and hilarious misprints that sometimes slipped by.

Joan was a devout Catholic and communicant of Our Lady of Hope Parish Church, formerly Saint Joseph’s Parish. Joan served the religious community by singing in the choir for several decades. She was also active with the parish’s Hobby Lobby and Ladies Sodality groups.

A lifetime of memorable summers were enjoyed on Long Island at the cottage built and established by her grandfather E.W. Murphy. The Balsamique, constructed in the early 1900s is a unique and distinctive summer home characterized by an orchestra loft and a bowling alley! (Beware though; Joan would always be quick to tell any new potential guests that we still had only an outhouse!)

Before Joan and Cecil assumed stewardship of The Balsamique, her parents Madeline and Billy Murphy shared the cottage with not only the Soper Family but the families of Joan’s sisters; Lillian and Patty and the combined brood of roughly 13 young grandchildren. Often it was pure chaos mixed with laughter and fun.

At The Balsamique, Joan enjoyed morning coffee and evening cocktails on the porch over-looking the open ocean. She never tired of the inspiring view. During the summer of 2019, Joan, with the help of her nephew Kevin, sighted whales spewing vapors as they breached the surface offshore. The only exception to the tranquility of Joan’s summers at The Balsamique were the intensely competitive Scrabble games, played almost on schedule each afternoon throughout the season.

A year ago, The Long Island Historical Society honored her Murphy family heritage with a comprehensive exhibit which included an interview of Joan, our matriarch, and her sisters. It was truly a privilege for Joan to be present when the Irish Ambassador made an official visit to attend the event and meet some of the many current family members.

Joan was predeceased by her husband, Cecil in 2003. Since then, daughter Gail has been her constant companion. Whether at home on Glenwood, summers on Long Island, or winters in Florida, the two of them have been inseparable and left a lasting impression of joy with everyone they encountered.

Joan was also predeceased by parents, William and Madeline Murphy; and sister Ginger Murphy.

She is survived by her sisters, Lillian Murphy and Patricia Nickerson; son Jeffrey Soper and wife Leanne, son, William Soper and wife Beth, daughter, Gail Boivin and husband Michael, son, David Soper and wife Brenda, daughter-in-law, Susan Soper; and many grandchildren; and great-grandchildren.

A graveside service will be held at 1 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 11, at Brooklawn Memorial Park, 2002 Congress St., Portland.

Those who plan to attend are asked to follow current CDC guidelines, which includes wearing a mask and social distancing.

Please visit to sign Joan’s online guest book.

In lieu of flowers consider supporting the Long Island Catholic Church:

Star of the Sea

Pastoral Center Office

307 Congress St.

Portland, ME 04101

Joan C. (Murphy) Soper

Guest Book