Elsie's Story

Text size

NORTH HAVEN - We are thankful for having had the gift of Elsie Gillis Morrison for over 94 years. Always a memorable lady, she left us, in typical fashion, on a national holiday, Monday, January 19th. Elsie touched the lives of everyone she met and we are sorry if she hadn't yet made your acquaintance, it was on her list. Making her debut on July 5th, 1920 and making her home always on North Haven in Penobscot Bay, she was an Island institution.

She was the 4th of eight children born to Ernest and Melvina Pettee Gillis (Ronald, Marguerite, Miriam, Elsie, Shirley, Albert, Corice, Elaine). Growing up in the depression era, her Scottish practicality was ever present. She was a descendent of George Leo Gillis who came from Scotland to Prince Edward Island, eventually settling in North Haven. She began her degree in mothering at an early age having responsibility for her youngest siblings, Corice and Larnie. Because of this, the three sisters shared a special life long bond.

She married the love of her life, Foster Goodwin Morrison on August 13th, 1938 and went on to make their home in the little cape at the end of Mullin's Lane. The proverbial mother figure, she took her role seriously and was blessed with three daughters, Elsie "Re", Martha and Greta. Her home was always a central gathering place for many. A master seamstress, wonderful cook, expert picnic packer and occasional stern man (woman), there really was nothing she didn't do.

She made friends easily, always a story to tell or advice to give. In her own words, "I just have so many good ideas, I need to share them with others". As her daughters grew older, she worked outside of the home as a cook and caretaker for several summer estates. Here she continued to add to her list of life long friends, including but not limited to, the King and Queen of Thailand.

Then came the grandbabies. Having had sufficient practice with her own family, she went on to perfect her technique, spoiling them to no end. Complete Barbie wardrobes made by hand, financed flights across the bay during February vacations when the thoroughfare was frozen, and dinner catered on TV stands in the living room.

In later years, she continued to share her grandmotherly ways with another generation, the Pingree kids. And as further evidence of the positive impact she had there, our entire family was honored when the eldest of the three, Hannah, named her first born daughter Elsie. Big Elsie and little Elsie were kindred spirits from the start.

Always a regular attendee at the North Haven Baptist Church & fundraiser for the Unity Guild Thrift Shop, at age 91 she decided there was no time like the present to become baptized and an official church member. We will also lovingly remember gathering with friends and family in her living room near the 5:00 o'clock hour for "Prayer Meetings" of another kind.

Elsie's lasting legacy to all of us is the example she set by the life she lived. She is survived by multiple generations of open minded, independent thinkers who will continue her mission, spreading love and kindness to all they meet.

In addition to her surviving daughters, Martha Small of Saco and Greta Engberg and her husband Victor of Spokane, Washington, she is survived by her youngest sister, Elaine Burgess and her husband Fletcher of North Yarmouth and North Haven, Maine. She is celebrated and loved by four adult grandchildren, Heidi Morrison Small and her husband Matthew Barney and their family of Falmouth, Maine; Matthew Morrison Engberg, his wife Carmen and their family of Moscow, Idaho; Thomas Arthur Morrison Small and his wife Milca of North Berwick, Maine and Elaine Greta Carroll of Washington state. Her eight great-grandchildren will miss her dearly: Kaila Tenbrink, Ashley Engberg, Noah Barney, Madison Engberg, Richard Carroll III, Holly Barney, Gretchen Barney and Maison Carroll.

The family would like to send their sincere thanks and appreciation to Karen & David Landa and their staff at Ledgeview Assisted Living. Love lifts us up and it was evident in the care she received there.

The family is also making arrangements for a celebration of her life and will make announcements when finalized. A graveside Committal will take place this summer at North Haven and on her birthday, Sunday, July 5th, 2015. All are welcome.

Please visit the http://obituaries.bangordailynews.com/obituaries/bdnmaine/ of www.bangordailynews.com to sign Elsie's guestbook and leave memories and condolences for the family.

In lieu of Flowers, if you would like to make a memorial donation in

Elsie's name, she had several favorites:

North Haven Public Library,c/o Kate Quinn

PO Box 486, North Haven, ME 04853 and North Haven Unity Guild,c/o Betty Brown

PO Box 435, North Haven, Maine 04853
Published on  January 22, 2015
Send flowers
in memory of Elsie
See more

Obituary published in

Arrangements by


Share this story with a friend: