1913 – 2016

Bradenton, Fla. — Doris Neilson Whipple, 102, of Auburn passed away peacefully in her own bed Thursday, April 7, while wintering in Bradenton, Fla., with her children.

She was born on Aug. 7, 1913, in Portland, the daughter of Neil and Mabel Rice Neilson. Neil was a pharmacist who came to Portland from Denmark as a child with his mother, a Juelsgaard, whose husband, Niels Nielsen had passed away in Nees, Denmark, leaving her with four children. His mother, Marie, sailed to America to be with her sister and her husband, Knud Knudsen. When her sister suddenly died in an accident leaving five children, she married her brother-in-law. Together they had four more children, for a total of 13 children “his, hers and theirs.” Doris’ mother, Mabel, grew up in Eastport, where her grandfather, Lewis D. Clark, owned the largest sardine canning factory in the world.

Doris’ parents settled in Sanford, where she spent her youth. She graduated from Sanford High School in 1930. Her lifelong passion was the piano. When Doris was a student in high school, she was often called to play for the silent movies at the Leavitt Theatre in Sanford. Her parents frequently drove her to Kennebunkport, where she played to accompany Gilbert and Sullivan operettas.

Doris earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Bates College in 1934. Subsequently, she taught English at Potter Academy in Sebago, Woodstock High School in Bryant Pond, Waterville High School and Edward Little High School. Over the years, many of her students have expressed their appreciation for the positive influence that she had on their lives.

In 1940, Doris married Carroll H. Whipple, her beloved husband of 53 years, and settled in Auburn. Carroll served his country during World War II in the U.S. Army from 1942 to 1945. He was part of the third wave in the Normandy invasion and fought in the hedgerows of France. During this difficult period, Doris cared for their children, Nancy and Jim, first in Carroll’s family’s home in Solon and later in their own home with the assistance of her loving parents.

Carroll Whipple was a local businessman who owned and operated Flanders Inc., a men’s fine clothing store, for more than half a century. In addition, Carroll was president of Mechanics Savings Bank and president of Auburn Hall Realty. Doris was a wonderful homemaker who provided her family with delicious home-cooked meals, homemade doughnuts and chocolate cakes with fluffy, white frosting. Doris and Carroll entertained in style and welcomed their friends for men’s coffee clubs, bridge and other festive social and family gatherings. The family enjoyed winter vacations in Florida, including Anna Maria Island, Longboat Key and Bradenton.

For many years, Doris served as president of the Bates College, Class of 1934. She was an active class agent and a member of the Bates Key Club. She was invited to play the piano for class reunions until she was in her late 90s. In 2013, Doris was presented with the prestigious Bates Best Award on the occasion of her 100th birthday. Doris was an active member of High Street Congregational Church. She was a board member and treasurer of the Woman’s Hospital Association of Central Maine Medical Center. Doris also served as a board member and treasurer of the YWCA. She was a 50-year member of the Auburn Art Club. Following the loss of her husband in 1993, she became the assistant treasurer and director of Flanders Inc. and president and treasurer of Auburn Hall Realty. In the year 2000, she sold the Auburn Hall Building to the city of Auburn, where it was returned to its original use as the city building.

Doris’ greatest joys were her family, friends and playing the piano. Recently, Doris performed at the Longboat Island Chapel in Florida. She played both religious music and jazz, for which the congregation gave her a standing ovation!

Doris was predeceased by her husband, Carroll H. Whipple; her son-in-law, John D. Griffin of Auburn; her brother’s wife, Hazel F. Neilson of Quechee, Vt.; and niece, Betty Jean Neilson of Worcester, Mass.

Doris is survived by her loving daughter, Nancy W. Griffin of Auburn; her dear son, James N. Whipple and his wife, Phoebe, of Cumberland; and her beloved brother, Robert R. Neilson of Stowe, Vt.

Doris is survived by grandsons and stepgrandsons, Bradford Griffin and his wife, Denise, Steven Whipple and his wife, Katharine, Michael Whipple and his wife, Erin, Zachary Manganello and his wife, Willow, Peter Manganello and his wife, Megan, and John Manganello and his wife, Lauren.

She is survived by great-grandchildren, Amelia Hersee, Julia Hersee and Sophia Griffin, Sam and Elizabeth Whipple, Quincy, Chloe, Macey and Oliver Whipple, Otis, Vera and Seth Manganello, and Nora and Eliza Manganello.

She is survived by her only nephew, Robert Neilson Jr. and his wife, Kathleen; her great-niece, Lindsey Lamb and her husband, Brian; her great-nephew, Brian Neilson; and her great-great-niece, Hannah.

Doris was delighted to live to be 102 years of age. In order to comfort her family and friends, she saved the following poem by Mary Elizabeth Frye, written in 1932:

Do not stand at my grave and weep.

I am not there; I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow,

I am the diamond glints on snow,

I am the sunlight on ripened grain

I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you awaken in the morning’s hush.

I am the swift, uplifting rush

Of quiet birds in circled flight.

I am the soft stars that shine at night.

I am not there; I did not die.

Special gratitude to the caregivers from First in Care Home Health Agency and Tidewell Hospice of Bradenton, Fla., and Arcadia Health Care in Auburn. Amy Huffman of First in Care Home Health was Doris’ “special angel” who loved and cared for her during her last two years and final days.

A private family memorial service will be held at a later date.