Erma Sturgis


1924 – 2015

LEWISTON — Erma Rowe Sturgis, 91, of Minot, the widow of Deane M. Sturgis, died on Saturday, Aug. 8, at d’Youville Pavillion in Lewiston.

Erma was born in Auburn on April 25, 1924, the daughter of George Harry and Elsie Kincaid Rowe. She grew up in Minot Corner and graduated from Edward Little High School in 1942. She met her future husband at Webster Junior High School. They were classmates through high school culminating in their senior year with Deane being the class president while Erma was the class secretary. After high school, Erma went on to Bates College while Deane joined the U.S. Navy Seabees serving in the Pacific theater during WWII. On June 26, 1946, in the Bates Chapel, Erma graduated from Bates in the morning and married Deane in the afternoon.

As Deane pursued his career in the New England Telephone Company, they lived in Auburn, Minot, Cape Elizabeth, Stoneham, Mass., Teheran, Iran, and Edison, N.J. Upon retirement in 1986, they returned to her childhood home in Minot. While raising five children, Erma held various jobs including substitute teacher, math tutor, and her favorite as head of the Purpose School in Stoneham, a preschool serving 80 students, housed at the First Congregational Church. Upon leaving Stoneham in 1976, she and Deane lived for several years in Teheran, Iran, where Deane worked for American Bell International. During this time they traveled extensively in Europe and in the Middle and Far East. They escaped the revolution in Iran shortly before the Shah’s overthrow in 1979 settling to Edison, N.J., where Deane finished his career at Bell Labs.

A lifelong singer, Erma participated in church choirs and Sweet Adeline choruses wherever they lived. She was also very active in several churches, serving on numerous boards and committees and directing musical events and plays. She also was a lifelong learner, taking many graduate level courses at Boston and Edison area colleges. A devoted wife and mother, she raised five children instilling in them a sense of justice and compassion for others, as well as love of education.

She lost the love of her life to a tragic fall at home in 1991, just five years after retirement, but remained active in her church choir and Sweet Adelines for many years. She enjoyed her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, hosting many family events at her home. She also had many friends from high school and college, as well as from the many places that she and Deane had lived and enjoyed hosting them or visiting them. She travelled extensively overseas with several of these friends and sisters-in-law and maintained these friendships as long as she was able. Her Christmas card list was quite extensive!


She will be dearly missed by her loving family and the many friends that she has all over the country.

She is survived by her children, Jeffrey Sturgis and his wife, Susan, of Minot; Mark Sturgis and his wife, Kumiko, of Methuen, Mass., and Nozumi, Japan; Craig Sturgis and his partner, Joseph Roxas, of NewYork, N.Y.: Deanne Doherty and her husband, Tom, of Auburn ; and Bruce Sturgis and his wife, Cindy, of Minot; nine grandchildren; three step-grandchildren; 20 great-grandchildren; and three step-great-grandchildren. She is also survived by sister-in-law, Elinor Rowe; and niece, Dee Etta Rowe and husband, Jimmy Ferraro, of Weeki Wachee, Fla.; Joan Sturgis of Estero, Fla.; Barbara Sturgis of Sedona, Ariz.; brother-in-law, Roger Goodwin of Minot; and many Sturgis nieces and nephews.

Besides her parents and her husband, she was predeceased by an older brother, Harry A. Rowe.

Words of condolence and tribute may be shared with Erma’s family and friends at