‘PENNY’ (HELEN) MITCHELL LEHMAN
BANGOR — On March 26 “Penny” (Helen) Mitchell Lehman, 70, beloved wife of husband Bernie Lehman, suffered a sudden (unwitnessed) cardiac arrest and, on Friday, April 2, surrounded by her husband, brother and sister-in-law, and superlative EMMC supportive medical staff, passed away at a Bangor hospital.
Penny was born in Farmington June 9, 1939, daughter of the late Geneva and Coleman W. Mitchell, and raised in Rangeley. She attended and graduated from Rangeley High School, Class of 1957. She then worked her way through college, attending and graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree, Sociology, 1962, from the University of Maine (UM), Orono. After graduation, Penny was employed as a juvenile probation officer, state of Connecticut. She was later recruited by the American National Red Cross (ARC) and assigned as a social worker, Service to Military Hospitals, Valley Forge (Army) General Hospital, Phoenixville, Pa. It was here she did multifaceted professional social work with returning US military Vietnam veterans.
Penny met her husband at Valley Forge General Hospital. She married in Phoenixville in November 1968, was granted transfer to ARC Los Angeles, and relocated to Los Angeles, her husband’s home. Penny, a member of the National Association of Social Workers, devoted the majority of her professional career to the American Red Cross. She worked as a social worker, ARC Service to Military Families and Veterans. She was then appointed supervisor, ARC Emergency Services, Valley District, Los Angeles. She spent 28 years with ARC, assuming other key positions linked with ARC, such as specialist, Veterans’ Affairs, and then a managerial position as field director, U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs. Upon retirement from ARC, Penny assumed a position with the state of California Department of Aging as Regional Manager, Long Term Care Ombudsman Program. Penny loved working with geriatric programs and the personal contact with seniors. As Ombudsman, Penny made great strides in accomplishing critically needed betterments in the arena of geriatric assisted living care. Penny proudly respected being the recipient of awards presented to her on occasions in recognition of her contributions and accomplishments to the community from such entities as the City of Los Angeles.
After 38 years in Los Angeles, in spite of heartfelt hardship leaving friends and family behind, Penny wanted to return to her true homeland; the state of Maine. This she did, with her husband, in July 2007, settling into a cottage, which she loved, at the beautiful active senior citizen campus of Avalon Village, Hampden. Penny met, made and loved many wonderful caring friends at Avalon Village and surrounding areas. Penny was thrilled to be in Maine, and so excited to be close to her new friends, remaining family members and the now adults— former childhood friends associated with her Rangeley life.
Penny loved her alma mater, the University of Maine, and renewed her association with the University. She attended activities and classes. She was especially excited to become an honored member of the UM Foundation— Charles G. Allen Society, and loved the UM associates she met, especially her new dear friend, Sarah McPartland-Good. Penny also had a gift for writing a touch of poetry and short stories. She was very expressive and was in the process of taking a creative writing class at the Penobscot Senior College taught by instructor, David Fitzpatrick, whom she thought “was just wonderful!”
Penny loved to travel around Maine with her husband in her beloved new Trailblazer, showing him about and, at the same time, renewing her remembrances of places. She was an outstanding homemaker and cook. She loved to go grocery shopping. Further, she loved to experiment with different recipes and entertain any time, but especially during the holidays. She loved to play with her different kitchen utensils, dishes, kitchen appliances, linens and laundry appliances. Penny would smell and enjoy her freshly washed, dried and fluffy laundry with the zest of one who might smell the fragrance of a beautiful flower. She loved music, art, gardening, feeding the birds, watching the wildlife and flowers, trees, scenery and listening to the winds blowing through the trees and talking on the phone with her family and friends. She ensured there was always a bouquet of flowers in the cottage every week. And, simply put, she was especially watchful and over caring of her husband, and her husband did not complain. Penny was especially happy when family or friends came by to visit. She was extra especially happy when family and friends visited from California.
Penny is survived by her husband, stepsister and husband, and cousins and friends in Maine, Fla., New York and sister-in-laws, brother-in-laws, nieces and nephews and friends in Los Angeles.
Penny’s family thanks the EMTs/Paramedics and Hamden Police Department officers who responded to Penny’s needs at Avalon Village March 26, and thereafter the EMMC Emergency Room and Cardiac Intensive Care Unit staff for all their outstanding supportive and medical care and concern provided Penny. Also, for their care and concern provided her husband and visiting family members, and for concern and reassurance support offered by EMMC CEO Debbie Johnson, who visited husband, Bernie, and patient, Penny, in the CCU. Finally, without question, additional thanks go to Hampden-Gilpatrick Funeral Home representative Chris Zanardi, who was instrumental in making all necessary arrangements a respectful and painless ordeal.