Sylvia Sodergren Carr, a retired nurse who was proud of her Swedish heritage and a devoted member of St. Ansgar Lutheran Church in Portland, died on Dec. 17. She was 98.

Sylvia Carr Family photo

Carr, whose family came to Maine from Sweden in the late 19th century, helped create her church’s annual St. Lucia Festival. She kept Swedish traditions alive at Christmas by preparing a smorgasbord for family and friends. This year, the family matriarch had planned to make her Swedish rice pudding, which she served with strawberries or lingonberries; a traditional Swedish sausage called potatiskorv, pork roast, lutefisk, and rotmos, a mash of root vegetables such as carrots, yellow turnips and potatoes.

She had plans to spend Christmas with her family in Stockholm, Maine. Her niece, Beverly Sodergren Wardwell, who lives there, said Carr will be deeply missed.

“We are going to miss her so much,” Wardwell said. “I’ve been thinking a lot about when I left her house in Cape Elizabeth. She was always in the window to wave goodbye to me. I’d always call her when I got home. She was so dear. She was the most wonderful aunt … so loving, kind and thoughtful.”

According to Carr’s obituary, which she wrote herself, she was born in 1923 to August and Lena Sodergren, of Stockholm, Maine, in a log cabin built by her Swedish immigrant grandfather. The log cabin is on the National Register of Historic Places.

She graduated in 1940 from Caribou High School, where she was a member of the National Honor Society, class secretary, and played on the basketball team. She attended nursing school at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor and graduated in 1943.


In nursing school, Wardwell said, her aunt was pulled to work on the hospital floors because of the staff shortage during World War II.

“The students were running the floors. There was such a need,” Carr’s niece said.

Carr was a registered nurse for about half a century. She began her nursing career at a hospital in Savannah, Georgia, where she married Amos J. Carr. The couple returned to Maine to live in Orono before moving to Lexington, Massachusetts, and had a son, Stewart. Carr worked for many years at Mt. Auburn Hospital in Cambridge.

In the late 1970s, Carr and her husband moved to Cape Elizabeth, where she continued her career as a private duty nurse. She worked into her 70s, Wardwell said.

“She was very hands on,” her niece said. “She was very organized and was a great leader. She had high expectations of the staff she worked with. Her standards for quality of care were number one. She gave her patients the best care.”

Carr was active at St. Ansgar Lutheran Church in Portland for many years. She was a member of the church’s evangelism committee, which started the St. Lucia Festival.


In 1970, Carr and her husband traveled to Sweden to visit family. She was known for sharing Swedish family history and traditions. She made a book for family members that included family history, genealogy and photos, her niece said. It includes letters translated from Swedish to English so family members could read them, and the history of when the family settled in Stockholm, Maine, in 1881.

“She said, ‘Baby, I want you to go to Sweden someday,’ ” Wardwell said. “I told her I would take her book with me. That’s what she wanted me to do and I’m going to do it. I’m bringing a part of her with me for sure.”

Carr and her family spent many summers at the family log cabin at Madawaska Lake. She hosted July 4th picnics at the camp for many years.

Carr’s first husband died in 1998. She married Robert Jacklin, a lifelong friend, in 2003. He died in 2012.

Wardwell said her aunt had an active life until recently. She had many friends and visitors and was always willing to share her thoughts and advice.

“She loved fun. She loved life, but I know where she is,” her niece said. “Christmas is about faith and Christ. She had a very strong faith in the Lord. I believe she’s really home for Christmas now.”

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