1934 – 2016

AUBURN — On the evening of Saturday, Dec. 10,

passed away peacefully at the Androscoggin Hospice House, after almost two years of hospice care.

A lifelong member of the Auburn community, Janet was born Oct. 20, 1934, the only child of Harold and Mildred Steward Howard. She grew up on Spring Street and was an active, engaged student in the Auburn system, excelling at dance and saxophone. She formed lifelong friendships, especially with the women known as the Blue Bicycle Club.

She graduated from Edward Little High School near the top of her class in 1952 and continued to serve her class as secretary, working on all of the five-year interval reunions. She was described by her classmates as “the glue that held the class together.”

After graduating from EL, she worked as secretary in the Guidance Department at ELHS from 1952 through 1959. During this time, she also worked as a local model for department stores. She caught the eye of Lewiston-born Stanley E. Gibson and the couple married June 22, 1957. Janet supported her husband through college at the University of Maine in Orono. The couple joked that they really went to college together.

Janet served as president of the Mrs. Maine Club and on the advisory board of the Mrs. Maine Nursery School and the Mrs. Maine Well Baby Clinic. After college the couple returned to Auburn and became the parents of three children, Laurie, William “Bim” and Gail, all graduates of Edward Little. During their children’s school years, Janet was an active member of many school-related parent organizations, including Auburn Suburban Little League.

Janet was a passionate supporter of all of her children’s activities, but she loved local football and basketball games the best. As an ardent sports fan, she faithfully followed the Red Sox, the New England Patriots, the Professional Golf Association, and she was a regular in the stands at Walton field and at EL basketball games for years after her children had graduated.

Janet was employed as an executive secretary in the Bond Department of the Dunlap Corp. for 35 years, retiring Dec. 31, 1999. After her retirement, she was a member of the board of directors of the Women’s Hospital Association of Central Maine Medical Center and served as a “greeter” volunteer and on the “Cuddles” committee at the hospital.

Janet was best known in the community for her devotion to Lewiston-Auburn Community Little Theatre. She joined the troupe in 1952 as a dancer in the production of “Kiss Me Kate” and would go on to perform and support countless productions both on and off stage. She served as the season ticket chair as well as historian/archivist at CLT. In 2009 she founded Readers Theatre, a community service organization that performed for local nursing homes, assisted living facilities and senior citizen groups.

In 2010 she wrote and published “A History of Lewiston/Auburn Community Little Theatre” with all proceeds donated to the theater. In 2015, she was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of her dedication, philanthropy and leadership to Community Little Theatre.

She is survived by her children, William “Bim” Gibson of Auburn, and Dr. Gail Gibson Sheffield of Westmoreland, N.H.; her grandson, Benjamin Gibson Sheffield; and her sons-in-law, Jamie Sheffield and Stephen Beale of Durham. She was predeceased by her husband, Stanley Gibson, in October 1995; and her daughter, Laurie Ann Gibson in 2012.

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