When Lily Gagnon, now 79, noticed her husband, Richard, acting a little run down in 2006, she made him go to the doctor.

At first, the doctors found nothing wrong with him.

Then, after an extensive battery of tests, they pinpointed the problem. 

Richard, Lily’s second husband — the first had died of a heart attack while at work in 1966 — was in the beginning stages of lung cancer.

“I used to knit and crochet a lot back in the day,” Lily explained. “In, oh, I think it was 1972, I put a pattern for a crocheted hat in the basket and said, ‘someday.’ Then, when he was in the hospital, I had to have something to do.”

So Lily, of Lewiston, started crocheting hat after hat.


The first one was overly large — about the size of a large serving platter according to Lila’s and crooked.

But quickly, she became a master hat maker and had a plethora on her hands.

She was giving them to her six children, their children, and the nurses who were tending her husband.

But then, during one of his weekly treatments in 2006, Lily noticed a box sitting on a windowsill. The box contained free hats for the patients, and she then knew what she could do with all the hats she had been crocheting.

Even after Richard’s death in 2009, one month before their 39th wedding anniversary, Lily continues to crochet hats.

She figures she drops off a dozen to each hospital two to three times per winter.


“I (crochet) when television is so lousy, and I’m only half watching the program.”

She also sells a few “head huggers” at the local winter farmer’s market for $5 each so she can buy more yarn to make more hats for the hospitals.

“I don’t want people to think I’m selling them for the money,” Lily said. “That was never, never my intent. It’s all about my husband.  We had such a good life together and he was such a good father to my children.”

After her commitment to the winter farmer’s market is through, she doesn’t plan on being there in the summer.

And now that arthritis is setting into her hands, she will probably be making fewer hats.

“I’d love to keep doing it and I will keep on doing it until my hands give out!”

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