1936 – 2015

WEST PARIS — Yvonne Lois Church, born July 26, 1936, in Hillsdale, Mich., died Friday, Sept. 18, in West Paris.

She is survived by her husband of 63 years, Don Sr.; her four children, Don Leslie Church Jr. and his husband, Steve Myers, Yvette Diane Inman and her husband, Thayne, Benjamin Church, and Steve Church and his wife, Elaine. In addition, she is survived by four grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

Over her lifetime, she counts these as her greatest achievements: a marriage well-lived and four children who grew up to all be very special and very different from each other.

Yvonne had a hardscrabble childhood, where the rough edges were softened by the love of a favorite grandmother. She learned the value of hard work at an early age, working nearly full time while going to school. Once she married Don and he entered the military, her legacy was born.

Yvonne was our “Don Quixote.” At the age of 18, her husband, Don, was stationed at Fort Knox in Kentucky. Yvonne worked at a local lunch café, serving the local military, where the “colored” soldiers were told to come to the back door of the lunch counter to be served. These soldiers who volunteered to serve their country could not enjoy the same privileges as their white counterparts, which enraged her sensibilities. Yvonne singlehandedly brought about the first integrated place where all soldiers could sit together at Fort Knox. And so our inheritance was sown.


It is said among her children, “We got our soft sensitive side from our father, but from Mom, we got our balls.” It might have been her strawberry-blonde hair or the steel in her eye, but her children always saw her meet challenges with her chin up.

As Yvonne raised her children in an “almost middle-class” home in Michigan, there was always room at the table for at least one more. And more milk was spilled through laughter than by clumsiness. Our second inheritance: Take care of others who are less fortunate. And she always marveled how well this lesson was learned and mirrored in each of her four children.

Always fighting for justice, Yvonne stood up to local powers — be it the school board, a local employer who refused to pay overtime when due or the town — if Yvonne sensed an injustice, she was always the one to point it out and work tirelessly to make it right.

A move to Maine in the 1970s shifted the focus of Yvonne’s life: Slow down; focus on a more natural lifestyle. She was made for the Maine lifestyle. Made from strong Scandinavian stock, she embraced the hardships that came with living in Maine. She worked in shoe shops and other manufacturing facilities for many years. The last of her worklife, she found her true vocation when she fell in love with the residents at Forest City Resources, an adult day care facility.

Ever the Don Quixote, Yvonne stood up to her last formidable opponent — Parkinson’s disease. Her grace, dignity and “balls” allowed her to fight the good fight until the day she died. Her lifelong partner, Don, her “Sancho Panza,” cared for her at home, and she died peacefully surrounded by the love of her children and grandchildren (those with her and those far away).

We also thank her “angels” from Beacon Hospice, Kelley and Allyson, for all the tender care they provided. Yvonne plans on being the life of the party at New England College of Osteopathic Medicine, where she has generously donated her body for research.

Our inheritance has many more nuggets, mostly intrinsic, but all of more value than anything you can touch or feel. So each of is rich, each taking more than our share from the best of her and still leaving more than enough for others who knew her.

We invite you to also have your “Don Quixote moment” and give Parkinson’s a big black eye. Give generously to PD research and salute a PD fighter in your life.

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