Helen Collins (Verderber) Gatchell

AUBURN – Helen Collins Verderber Gatchell, 97, of Auburn died peacefully at home surrounded by her family on March 17, 2023. She was born in Lewiston Dec. 31, 1925 to Fire Captain Ernest J. Verderber and Mary Collins Verderber.

She attended local schools graduating from Lewiston High School class of 1943. She graduated from Central Maine General Hospital School of Nursing as a registered nurse in 1946 where she made many lifelong friends participating in the Cadet Corp that would have served in WWII if the war hadn’t ended.

She worked for many years at CMG mostly in the maternity ward helping birth many well-known local babies; you know who you are, Sheri, and Poppy! She did private duty, and worked for many local doctors’ private practices: Drs. Hannigan and Dr. Rock and Dr. Swengel. She also worked at Radiation Therapy at CMMC.

She married Richard “Dick” “Getch” Briggs Gatchell in 1947.

She enjoyed traveling and socializing with many friends especially Pat and Buzzy Edwards, Marion and Carl Lake, Gay and Don Cooper, Jan and Eddie Taber, and Loris and Henry Brooker, and her friend, Geri Brushwein.

She could be seen in her later years shoveling, raking leaves using her rollator, weeding her flower gardens, swinging on her lawn swing, reading in her screenhouse, sunning on the back deck enjoying a Larochelle’s lobster bake, a steak, a fish sandwich freshly caught by the neighborhood fishermen, her favorite cocktail, or one of Jon’s homebrewed beers.

She was past president of First Auburn Senior Citizens, corporator of the Auburn Public Library, member of Club 15, and the CMG Nurses’ Alumni Association.

She loved garage sales, senior Bingo, daily newspaper crosswords and Jumbles. She was a voracious reader loading her APL tote bag with books recommended by John Kelley. She loved her weekly hair appointment with Richard Davenport at Hair Grafix. She loved going out to eat and was ready at a moment’s notice to go for a ride (“Wanna go…? “Sure!” was her answer) to Taber’s, the Chickadee, Hodgman’s Frozen Custard, Dairy Joy or to the Dolphin for a Blueberry Lemonade, lobster stew and a blueberry muffin, and a side trip to Land’s End on Bailey Island. We spent many years staying at the Robbins’ cottage behind the Giant’s Stairs.

She is survived by daughters Susan and Diane, son, The Honorable David Verderber Gatchell, former Auburn City Councilor from Ward 1; granddaughter, Katie Gatchell (Coby) Asselin; great-grandchildren Kirsten Lupher, Jake Lupher, Cassie Asselin and Gracie Chasse; daughters-in-law Peggy Gatchell, and Kathy Mooney-Thayer (Bob); step-grandchildren Tracy Mathews, Kevin Simoneau; step-great-grandchildren Spencer and Parker Simoneau; special nieces and nephews Jon (Lisa) Perruzzi, Jay (Jenny) Perruzzi, Jill Wyman, and Bonnie-Kay (Dennis) Hendrickson.

She was predeceased by her parents; sister, Josephine Verderber (Fred) Clark; husband, Richard Briggs Gatchell; son, Richard “Ricky” “Rick” “Getch” Briggs Gatchell, Jr.; sister-in-law, Barbara (Bob) Perruzzi, brother-in law Herbie (Katharine) Gatchell.

In keeping with her wishes, there will be no visiting hours or funeral. Burial will be held in the spring.

Her family would like to thank Androscoggin Home Healthcare and Hospice staff for their care and dedication to Helen’s dignity at the end of her life, especially Brenda and Keith.

Our mother always said she wanted flowers when she was alive, not after she died.

She loved her family and took care of them to the end. Her last words were, “I love you!” to her great-grandson, Jake. Goodbye Mom, Gram, Mimi. We will love you forever.

On line condolence can be shared at http://www.thefortingroupauburn.com

Arrangements are under the care of The Fortin Group Funeral Homes, 217 Turner St., Auburn, 783-8545.

In her memory,

please send flowers to a loved one or friend.

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Donations may be made to

Androscoggin Home Healthcare and Hospice

15 Strawberry Ave.

Lewiston, ME 04240

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