LuAnn Gray, born Dec. 16, 1956 in Waukegan, Illinois, to Wade and Ruth (Whipple) Wiggins, was lifted by angels, to meet our Lord, Jesus Christ on Jan. 5, 2021.

In early and preteen years, LuAnn and her family, lived in several different states. She attended South Portland and Buxton schools, earning her GED through Portland Adult Education.

She was predeceased by her parents, elder brother, William “Bill” Harris, and grandchildren, Kaleb Cox and Razia Brown

She is survived by daughters; Stacy Wiggins of Portland, Kortney Cox, of Biddeford. Siblings; Robert and
(Suzanne ) Harris, of Florida; (James, “Jim”) and Ollie LaChapelle, Timothy Wiggins and Sue Frank, all of South Portland; Peggy Wiggins, of New Hampshire; and Thomas Wiggins of Westbrook. Grandchildren; Daniel Bruns, of Westbrook; Aiydan Fenderson of Portland; Kate Cox and Kameron Cox, of Texas; and many nieces and nephews.

From early age, throughout young adulthood, LuAnn enjoyed drawing, painting, cooking and crocheting. She loved to spend time with family, at their camp on Pequawket Lake, in Limington. She often had to be “dragged” out of the water, as swimming was her favorite activity.

Following a three generation family tradition, she enjoyed baking and decorating a special cake. Both her daughters, Stacy and Kortney, have carried on LuAnn’s favorite Easter tradition – and cherish the many years they helped LuAnn make her famous “Easter Bunny Cake,” complete with shredded coconut and jelly beans. Whether in cooking or arts, LuAnn down-played her many talents.
Kortney recalls a Safety Essay Contest, at school which she entered. “I wrote the essay, my mother drew an electrically over-loaded Christmas tree; with Santa, unplugging the cord. We won First Prize!” LuAnn’s love of drawing and, eventually painting, never stopped!

“Family first.” A way of life for her, always trying to help anyone who needed it.

Little did anyone know, or anticipate, that LuAnn’s life, as she knew it, at age 39, in 1996; would change forever. After emergency surgery, three months at MMC in ICU, three more months, in the hospital R-4, Rehab; she spent almost a year, at River Ridge Brain Injury Unit, in Kennebunk. She never gave up. Her determination showed with each day’s progress.

Her next few placements were unsuccessful; as periodic hospitalizations; due to frequent seizures. A new plan for her was discussed with many of her physicians. She just kept beating the odds, but needed to live where she had 24/7 monitoring, for safety, due to seizures.

Finally, her “new life” was unfolding. South Portland Nursing Home became her residence. Living with a severe memory deficit was grueling for her to understand at times. For three to five days a week, she left on a bus, to Portland, to attend more rehab, at Bayside Brain Injury Unit, a day program. Again, she showed much progress and gained more confidence; she continued determination!

Eventually, she had reached the clinical goals set for her. The nursing home staff had never experienced a resident at such a young age, who could ambulate, dress, feed, bathe and be relatively independent of much care. She was unable to understand the reasoning of needing to be in a facility. After all, when she looked into the mirror, she saw “normal.” The staff, often “saw” her the same way, and became friends with her.

Her frequent seizures, and memory loss, proved exactly why she was in the nursing home. Safety, of course; and medication and lab monitoring was a constant challenge.

Her early mission in life had shown a strong drive to “do what she could for others.” Being in the nursing home, even with her medical issues; again, her determination and drive never waned!

She loved crocheting, painting, drawing, adult coloring, country music, playing cards, Bingo, playing games on her tablet, word search books, attending activities, church service, chair yoga, assisting the activities department, her family and facility outings, over-night camping and swimming. She so loved children! She loved reading to the children in the facility daycare. Seldom did a baby or animal go by her in the lobby, without acknowledgement from LuAnn! Consequently, day in and day out, her “place” within the lobby, her friend base just kept on growing!

Although confined with medical issues, her personality and true grit stubbornness kept on working, like the Energizer Bunny!

LuAnn’s family, simply thanks everyone who helped make LuAnn’s many health challenges over the years easier for her! All staff, visitors, volunteers, her many physicians and to all who supported and consoled the family during tough times.

A celebration of life will be announced at a later date. In lieu of flowers, appreciation of a donation to your favorite charity or: Activities Department, Pinnacle Nursing & Rehab, 42 Anthoine St., South Portland, ME 04106 (formerly South Portland Nursing Home), in honor of LuAnn Gray.