More: ‘Heart’ of the Shakers gone; community keeps faith

NEW GLOUCESTER — For two hours Saturday, 200 people packed the Brick Dwelling House at the Sabbathday Lake Shakers Village to remember Sister Frances Carr, a woman of strong faith, strong opinions and strong love for people. The memorial brought out members of her community and many others.

Carr was one of just three Shakers left in the world when she died of cancer Monday at age 89. Her passing made headlines worldwide.

Mourners from around the country traveled to New Gloucester, Carr’s home for nearly 80 years and the location of the last active Shaker community, to say goodbye to her Saturday afternoon. It was the largest attendance ever for a Shaker funeral at Sabbathday Lake.

Brother Arnold Hadd joked that Carr would have thoroughly enjoyed the attention.

The funeral was run as a traditional Shaker meeting, or worship service, with the largest part set aside for people to share impromptu speeches, stories and Shaker songs. Participants talked of always feeling welcomed and loved by Carr.


They spoke of her stubbornness and strong will. And they talked about her instant and instinctive desire to help people, whether they were longtime friends who needed a prayer or homeless strangers who needed a meal from a nearby pizza place.

Participants also talked about her sense of humor. Interspersed among the songs and stories recounted over the two-hour event, Hadd shared Carr’s five favorite jokes. Carr had told the last one so often — and it was so bad — that it earned a good-natured groan from the audience.

The service ended with a closing hymn. As they filed out of the meeting room, participants sang Shaker songs until the space was empty.

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