AUGUSTA — Margaret Esther Panera, 97, of Augusta, died Friday, Aug. 13, at MaineGeneral Rehabilitation, Graybirch Drive.

She was born on April 11, 1913, in the town of Jay. Margaret “Peggy” Esther Panera was the eldest child of Gustave Gagnon and the former Maude Gallant from New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, Canada, respectively; they immigrated to the United States in 1912.

She attended Jay public schools and moved to Augusta in 1930.

She married Louis “Louie” Panera on Nov. 26, 1934, in St. Ambrose’s Catholic Church in Richmond.

During the time that her husband served in the military from October 1943 to November 1945, Margaret was one of 3,000 women employed at the South Portland Shipyards building ships for the war effort who were immortalized by such terms as “Wendy the Welder” and “Rosie the Riveter” for their extraordinary contribution.

Employed as a welder, she worked on gun turrets on many of the 236 Liberty Ships launched from the East and West Yards. During and after the War, Margaret also worked at LaVerdiere Drugs at the Water Street store in Augusta.

The couple resided in Chelsea on the Dr. Mann Road from the 1930s to the 1950s and established a successful monument business. Margaret handled the business side of the effort and took great pride in their accomplishments. In 1953, the Paneras moved their residence and business to Riverside Drive, where it became known as Riverside Drive Monuments. They sold the business in the 1970s.

In addition to the couple’s business efforts, both were avid hound dog breeders and members of the Waterville Beagle Club and the Kennebec Valley Beagle Club.

Her husband, Louis, passed away in 1995.

Margaret moved from her Riverside Drive home in 2004 to St. Mark’s Home for Women on Winthrop Street in Augusta. In 2009, she moved to Hillside Terrace in Hallowell.

Margaret had talents appreciated by many throughout her life. She was an accomplished pianist who played for her own enjoyment. She was also a talented artist specifically interest in oil painting.

During her residence at St. Mark’s Home for Women, she was featured as a local artist in the Kennebec Journal: Her art was on display at the home while a resident.

Margaret was an industrious woman who worked hard all her life and was known for her determination and individual spirit.

Margaret is survived by her siblings, Lawrence Gagnon of Turner, Theresa Henry of Augusta, and Richard Gagnon of Watertown, N.Y.; 11 nephews; 11 nieces; and her good friends, Jim and Gale Ziegler of Gardiner.

She was predeceased by her siblings, Phillip, Daniel, Peter, Amos, Ella, and Marion.

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