Rebecca Merrifield, who worked at Johnny’s Selected Seeds in Winslow and was known for her infectious laugh and positive energy, died Saturday in a fire at her home in Fairfield. She was 56.

She was remembered by loved ones this week for her warm smile, kind heart and adventurous spirit.

“She had this laugh,” said her sister, Sarah Gilbert, of Bar Harbor. “My husband says he always knew she was coming because he could hear her laugh before he could hear her. You felt great anytime you talked to her. She was empathetic, loyal, fun and smart.”

Rebecca Merrifield and her husband, Glenn Clausen, on their wedding day Contributed photo

Merrifield grew up in Sanford, the second oldest of four children. She was a 1982 graduate of Sanford High School. She went on attend the University of Maine and graduated with a degree in economics. She worked for a local bank before joining Coca-Cola Bottling Co. as an accountant. Gilbert said her sister later spent a year traveling throughout Europe.

In recent years, Merrifield had worked at L.L. Bean’s outlet store in Ellsworth. At the time of her death, she worked for Johnny’s Selected Seeds at its warehouse in Winslow. She joined the company in 2019 as a seasonal worker and was involved with filling customers’ orders.

Joshua D’Errico, marketing coordinator at Johnny’s Selected Seeds, said she was loved by a lot of people at Johnny’s.

“In our company email, there was a lot of folks sharing memories and expressing what a wonderful, giving, caring person Becca was,” D’Errico said. “There’s a lot of folks struggling to come to terms with what has happened. What a terribly sad thing it is.”

Sarah Squire, lead operations associate at Johnny’s, said Merrifield picked seeds for customers’ orders and worked during its garlic and bulb season and the potato seed season. Squire said she tried talking Merrifield into applying for a full-time position at the company.

“She was one of those employees who was always happy, very energetic and very helpful,” Squire said. “She had such an infectious laugh. You knew where she was in the department. She was a ball of sunshine here. You don’t find a lot of people like her.”

Merrifield lived on Bear Mountain Road in Readfield with her husband, Glenn Clausen. The couple were together more than 30 years before getting married in December. The couple built their home off the grid and raised pigs and chickens.

“They had a love for each other that was wonderful,” Gilbert said.

Elizabeth Sylvester of Dresden, a longtime friend of Merrifield and Clausen, said they were entrepreneurs. Sylvester said he’s a carpenter and she helped him. The couple did roofing, carpentry, and planted trees in Virginia and North Carolina for several years. Sylvester said Merrifield was a hard worker and they made a great team.

“She was radiant,” Sylvester said. “When she entered a room, the room brightened, and everyone started smiling. She had a wonderful sense of humor. She was extremely positive. … Becky just made you be happy to be alive when you were around her.”

Merrifield had a passion for life. She enjoyed traveling and working in her vegetable and flower gardens. Sylvester said Merrifield was her best friend.

“We would go kayaking together,” she said. “I did projects with them. We took down fencing and the old chicken coop. We had a great time working and playing together. They were very appreciative. We had fun together. They made life fun.”

A fire broke out in the home of Merrifield and Clausen on Bear Mountain Road in Fairfield early Saturday. Sylvester said Clausen fell asleep on the couch and woke up to the house engulfed in flames. He was seriously injured in the fire. Merrifield’s body was found in their bedroom next to her two chocolate Labradors, Otto and Izzi.

“It’s tragic when two vibrant people go through this,” Sylvester said.

Shannon Moss, public information officer for the Maine Department of Public safety, said Wednesday the cause of the fire is still under investigation. Moss said the medical examiner’s office conducted an autopsy Tuesday and is waiting for toxicology reports. Moss said Clausen is in serious condition at Maine Medical Center in Portland.

Gilbert said five days before her sister died, she visited their mother in Sanford. She said her sister’s death hits especially hard because their father died last year. Gilbert said each of her siblings considered Merrifield their best friend.

“She’s been the glue that held us all together,” her sister said, crying. “My mom is not doing well at all. It’s just kind of sinking in. She was so thoughtful. She listened. She had kind words. She was a wonderful woman. She touched a lot of lives.”

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