SCARBOROUGH – Sarah Alice Stevens of Bethel passed away May 11, at the Gosnell Memorial Hospice House after a short illness.

She was born Dec. 23, 1909, to Matilda and Thomas Laird in Wentworth Location, N.H. The family lived several years in Upton and Grafton finally settling in Newry, where she grew up with her mother and stepfather, Ola Olson.

Except for her public service and church work, she was totally dedicated to the happiness and well-being of her family, which was the center of her life.

She was always there for everyone, listening, caring and encouraging. No matter what the problem, she remained calm and strong – the family “rock!” She will be sorely missed but will live on in our hearts.

She loved Bethel and its people. She often was involved in several projects at once, working tirelessly wherever needed. She took an active part in the Mollyocket celebrations and served one year as chairwoman. She has been recognized for her achievements by many local organizations including the state of Maine Volunteer Recognition Award, Senior Citizen Award, Western Area Agency on Aging Appreciation Award and was chosen as a candidate for the Jefferson Award for outstanding service to the community.

She received the Bethel Historical Volunteer Award and was an honorary member. She was one of the two remaining women who helped found the first senior citizen group in Bethel. For 18 years, she enjoyed running and serving weekly meals to the seniors, retiring at the age of 86 due to her husband Ranald’s poor health. As the oldest citizen in Bethel, she proudly received the Boston Post Cane in 2008.

She was a member of the Bethel Methodist Church, which was very dear to her, serving on many committees in both the church and guild. She could always be found at the food table at the church summer gift shop and at the coffee table every Sunday morning. It was well-known that if you wanted help with anything, you called her.

She enjoyed her birds, especially as she became more house bound. They would come to her kitchen window and wait for her to feed them. Many different birds feasted there over the years. Some were rare to this area and just passing through, but all were welcome, even the squirrels and chipmunks.

Sending cards was a hobby to her. Wherever she traveled, she had to take her cards and stamps so she could send a cheery note to someone who was sick or celebrating a birthday. She often sent cards to people she hardly knew, if they needed a kind word.

Every Saturday night a “Happy Hour” was held at her house for the Stevens family, a tradition which had been carried on from the years when Richard and Hulda Stevens were alive and held it in their home. It was a special time each week to gather and “catch up.” It is a tradition that will not fade away.

As her health declined, her spirit never wavered. She never once complained about her health or inability to do the things she had always loved to do. She found something to be thankful for every day and was content with what she had. In her own words, “I am a woman of few wants”!

With the help of her daughters and their families, friends and neighbors, she was able to live independently in her own home till she was 96. At that time, she went to live in South Portland with her daughter, Marilyn, and Charles. Even though she suffered from dementia, she enjoyed activities with the South Portland Senior Citizens as well as daily outings with her family. There was nothing she enjoyed more than a good laugh.

She is survived by her two daughters, Barbara Sweetser of Bethel and Marilyn King and her husband, Charles, of South Portland; two stepdaughters, Catherine Johnson and husband, Albert, of Bailey Island and Mary McLean and husband, Arnold, of Lewiston; one sister, Gina Haggett of Shrewsbury, Mass.; 16 grandchildren; 39 great-grandchildren; 15 great-great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.

She was predeceased by her husband, Ranald; two grandsons, Kim Parker and Ronald Johnson; two sisters, Annie Olson and Bertha Cummings; three brothers, Ole Olson, Haakon Olson and Theodore Olson; and two sons-in-law, Harvey Sweetser and Guy Parker Jr.

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