Kimberlee ‘Lee’ Cressey Warner Family photo

Kimberlee “Lee” Cressey Warner, a beloved manager at Kennebunk Ace Hardware known for her warm smile and zest for life, died Monday from stage 4 ovarian cancer. She was 57.

Cressey Warner, who worked at Ace Hardware for more than 21 years, was remembered by her colleagues as a helpful, kind and genuine woman with a big heart. Her family and friends recalled a strong and fiercely determined woman who was loved in the Kennebunk community

Diane Oddy, owner of the store, said Thursday that Cressey Warner was a valued employee who was loyal, reliable and devoted to the business – and a big part of the community.

“The customers really loved her, like to pieces,” Oddy said.

Sid Johnson, of Lyman, an employee at Ace Hardware for 16 years, said that Cressey Warner was the go-to person for customers looking for help with household repairs or home improvement projects.

“Everyone who came to the store knew Lee,” Johnson said. “A lot of people come here looking for solutions to their problems. Her knowledge was just incredible, from plumbing to electrical to paint. There wasn’t a customer she couldn’t help. A lot of times, I went to her for help.”

Sue Cressey chuckled Thursday about how her sister-in-law knew the paint schemes in all the homes in Kennebunk.

“I would go in with my paint can and say, ‘Lee, it’s my dining room. What do I need?’ She always had a smile. You felt like she was so excited to see you,” Cressey said.

Cressey Warner lived in Kennebunk nearly her whole life. She graduated from Kennebunk High School in 1981 and attended Westbrook Junior College. In her younger years, she worked at the Kennebunk Inn. She also worked for Kennebunk Fire Rescue as a licensed ambulance attendant for several years.

Cressey Warner was 16 when her mother died from a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 50. She was a loving sister to George Cressey of Kennebunk, Melissa Jackson of Wells and Robert Akers of Kennebunk.

Sue Cressey said she was inspired by her sister-in-law’s energy, enthusiasm and love for family.

“I’ve known Lee her whole life,” Cressey said. “She was a precocious little girl, always asking questions. She was smart as a whip and loved to problem solve. … She adored her big brother, George. She was the little kid sister and looked up to him. I found it especially funny that when he needed to do jobs around the house, he asked her for advice, to her delight.”

She was a loving wife to Dan Warner for three years. They lived in Arundel and created a hobby farm with goats, bunnies and chickens.

“We bought this place together,” her husband said. “It was our dream.”

He said they met at the hardware store while he was shopping for parts for his employer.

“She helped me and I couldn’t take my eyes off that girl,” he said. “She was a very good woman. I wish I had more time with her. I’ll never love anyone like I love her.”

Cressey Warner was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer more than a year ago. She worked at the hardware store during her cancer treatments up until a few weeks ago. Her sister-in-law said she was convinced she would beat the cancer.

“She was feisty and determined,” she said. “She was dedicated to her job, her customers, and to the people she worked with. It’s a small community. She was well known and people depended on her.”

Johnson, her co-worker, said employees at the hardware store have received an outpouring of support from the community.

“It’s a sad, sad time,” he said. “The store will never be the same.”

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