Catherine Bell

Catherine's Story

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Houlton - Catherine 'Kay' (Brown) Bell, 97, left us on November 25, 2016, to plead her case to the "Big Kahuna" in front of the Pearly Gates. She was born in "Patty's Holler" on March 23, 1919, to Frank Nicholas and Mary (Mahoney) Brown. She always remarked she was born the year women got the right to vote and lived until women got the right to marry each other, "how times have changed."
Her noted frugality came from growing up during the Depression. The phrases often heard were "you will chase a crow a mile for that before spring" and "use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without" credited to Calvin Coolidge.
She spent some of her later years living in an apartment on Water Street next to the former St. Mary's school where she started her education. She often told stories of those days where she remembered Father Silk presided over catechism and spelling bees. The view from this apartment, across the Meduxnekeag River onto the new Riverfront Park and its lights, reminded her of the lights of New York City, where she was a governess for a few years after graduating high school. That lasted until a "smooth talking county boy" convinced her to leave the high life and return to "The County." She met Horace "Sonny" Bell on Friday the 13th of August, 1937, at Cary Lake in Littleton, where he gave her an unexpected and unsolicited swimming lesson even to her protests that she could not swim. They married on January 5, 1942, in Nashua, NH. At this time in her life, she had 4 theories about raising children but no children. Within seven years she had four children and no theories. Ironically that smooth talking County boy passed away on Friday, the 13th of October 1972.
During WWII, growing up on a farm, she came to know first hand of the German POW's, as they were a labor supply for potato famers and woods crews of Aroostook County. This association lasted a lifetime as some of the Houlton based POW's returned in their later years and made contact with her through Houlton Historical Society and Museum, where she was a curator for many years. She eventually made a pilgrimage to the Baltic Sea with the aid of one of her German friends and paid her last respects to her brother, Louis, who was a tail gunner in a B-17 and was MIA over Rostock, Germany.
She returned to work in the early 50's with the support system available at the Brown family farm atop Brown Hill on Lake Road in Monticello. In 1957 she took a job with the U.S. Border Patrol as clerk stenographer and moved to Houlton. She was a little apprehensive about the male dominated Border Patrol, but having grown up with five rough and tumble brothers she fared well, retiring with 32 years of service as a radio room supervisor. During her children's school years she was the after-supper study task master and tutor for her four children. It was often heard "an education is something that can never be taken away from you." This drive led to four college degrees for her four children and once for herself in 1989 at the age of 70. After her children were on their own she became active in state and local affairs. She was the State President for the BPW Club, served on the Board of Budget Review, the Aroostook Regional Transportation Board, Houlton Historical Society, and one term on the Houlton Town Council. She was always interested in history which led her to research family trees on both the Bell and Brown side of the family, going back seven generations. She was very involved in the Houlton museum and was fond of the people she met there. She felt that some of the items there were "not really that old," because she could remember using many of them when she was a young girl. She enjoyed giving tours at the museum, tending to her flowers and collecting rocks, which she collected as far away as Texas, Arizona, Germany, England, and Ireland. She could also be found repelling down the banks of the Meduxnekeag River in Houlton and Jackson Falls in New Brunswick looking for fiddleheads, rare wild flowers, or showing the grandchildren how to get up close to the falls. One of her favorite things to do was visit the family farm in Monticello and taking care of her beloved raspberry patch.
She is survived by her daughters, Virginia E. Charron and her husband, Dick of Berwick, Beverly K. Taylor and her husband, Hugh of Machiasport; sons Brian S. Bell of Tucson, AZ, and Franklin A. Bell and his wife, Carol of Houlton; 11 grandchildren; 12 great grandchildren; a sister, Mary Moreshead and her husband, Joe of Southington, CT; a brother, Richard Brown and his wife, Teeney of Lubec; many nieces and nephews. She was also predeceased by her parents; brothers, Lawrence, Paul, Louis, and Michael. KAD620, 10-7, 10-42.
Graveside funeral services will be held 10 a.m. on Tuesday, November 29th 2016, at the St. Mary's Cemetery with Father Dave Raymond officiating. In lieu of flowers, those who wish may donate to the Houlton Historical Society, 109 Main Street, Houlton ME 04730. For an online memory book and to leave condolences please visit www.bowersfuneral.com
Published on  November 28, 2016
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