Vera's Story

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HANCOCK - Vera Mabel Bunker Foss, 98, passed away on March 21, 2016 at the Golden Acres Boarding Home in Franklin. Vera was born October 28, 1917, in Franklin, the daughter of Lester Earl Bunker and Florence Emma Lowe. After the death of her mother when Vera was a toddler, she was cared for by relatives and by George and Ethel Gordon in their East Franklin home.

A stellar graduate of Franklin High School, she worked as a telephone operator and was active in the Franklin Schoodic Grange. She met husband Leslie Crabtree Foss of Hancock at a community bridge night when he approached her and gallantly asked whom they might both know at the event who could properly introduce them. Vera waited for Leslie to return from four years of service during World War II in the U.S. Army Air Force in the Pacific. Married at the Franklin Baptist Church in January 1946, they had two daughters, Vivian and Junemma. Vera and Leslie raised much of their family's food in a large vegetable garden with the late summer becoming a marathon of hot-water canning of tomatoes, beans, and berries along with storage of bushel baskets of apples and onions. Barrels of potatoes took a prominent spot in the stone cellar. Four varieties of squash went on the floor under the children's beds.

Vera served for several decades as a Postmaster, first assisting in summers at the Hancock Point Office, and then becoming the Postmaster for the main Hancock office at the Corner. She will be remembered for her varied and extensive public service to the communities of Franklin and Hancock. Among other activities, she served on the Riverside Cemetery Association; the Monument Lot Committee; and as the Treasurer of the Union Congregational Church (UCC) of Hancock of which she was a member for more than fifty years, serving several terms as treasurer. She did fund-raising for the construction of the church vestry and served as a delegate to the Maine Conference of Churches. She succeeded her father-in-law for a few years as a moderator at the Hancock Town Meeting and worked as a teacher's assistant at the Hancock Grammar School where she had earlier been a voice of the local and state Maine Parent-Teacher Association. Loving local history, Vera was an active member of both the Franklin and Hancock Historical Societies. Some residents will find on their library shelves a copy of the Society's A History of the Town of Hancock 1828-1978, a project of Hancock's Sesquicentennial Committee, which remains a valuable historical record and photographic resource. Vera loved working with her Hancock neighbors who collaborated to write the text and assemble the volume. After her retirement from the Post Office, she received a plaque as Hancock Citizen of the Year, and later was presented with the Boston Post Cane as the oldest citizen of Franklin.

Vera also loved to travel and enjoyed cruises through the Alaskan fjords and down the Nile River of Egypt. She travelled internationally to the Eastern Canadian Provinces, England, Scotland, Denmark, Israel, Venezuela, and Ecuador; and with Elderhostel, she widely explored major U.S. cities in the lower Forty-Eight including the American West.

It can be said that Vera was ever resilient and good-humored. Her daughter Vivian, visiting from Wisconsin in the summer of 2015, sat at her bedside when over the course of several days, Vera appeared to have slipped into some sort of unresponsive progressive decline. Caught up in reading a Jane Austen novel in preparation for teaching a literature course in the fall at the university, Vivian suddenly realized that it seemed that her mother had stopped breathing. Somewhat panicked that she had missed a critical moment, Vivian put her head to her mother's chest and listened intently. Vera slowly opened one eye, looked skeptically at her daughter, and declared, "I'm not dead yet, and I'm hungry." Vera's final words, some eight months later, were "Take care of yourself."

Vera is survived by daughter Vivian Foss (Martin Gruberg) of Hancock and Oshkosh, Wisconsin and a hearty group of descendants. Vera's daughter Junemma and son-in-law John Kittredge, formerly of Ellsworth, gave Vera five grandchildren, now living in California and Oregon: Crichton (Brenda) Kittredge and their children Madison, Cassidy, Connor, and Kennedy; Russa Kittredge (Christian) Langpap and their children Nicole and Andrew; Olivia (Becky) Kittredge and their children Emma and Caden; Clare (Nick) Bisho and their children Elle and Cooper; and Clive (Jenny) Kittredge and their daughter Amelia June born in July 2015. Vera is also survived by three nieces and nephews who provided invaluable support during Vera's more than a dozen years at Golden Acres: Robert (Jean) Foss of Hancock and Arizona, John (Ruth) Bunker of Holden and their children Elizabeth and Julie, and Cheryl Bunker (John Foster) and their children Stephanie and Courtney of Massachusetts. Vera's much loved half-sister, Marjorie Bunker Getchell, is now living in Ellsworth, and with Marjorie's daughter Faye (Richard) Havey and their children Richard (Diane), Wayne (Julie), and Mark Havey have offered support from Franklin. Children of Vera's half-brother Charles William Bunker, now deceased, are local residents Beth Bunker Anderson and Timothy Bunker, who along with Vera's step-sister Arlette's son Ronald Trundy have kept Vera in their thoughts for many years. Vera was predeceased by husband Leslie who died as a middle-aged man in December 1973; by daughter Junemma, a young mother, in January 1997; and by her older brother Lester Earl Bunker, Jr. in 2012.

In closing, the family wishes to thank the staff of the Franklin Golden Acres Boarding home under the leadership of Diane Dow, who first met Vera as a student at Hancock Grammar School, for their indefatigable care during a long goodbye as Vera endured an amazing longevity despite some form of dementia. The nearly daily visits of the Bangor-based Community Health and Counseling Services Hospice Team made the ups and downs of these last two years bearable.

A memorial service will be held next summer in Hancock.

The family first established a memorial fund for contributions to support the Hancock school library in 1997 in memory of Vera's daughter Junemma Foss Kittredge. Donations of funds for purchase of books for the Hancock Grammar School Library will contribute to Vera's legacy and enrich the lives of the young people of Hancock. Donations to the school will be gratefully received by the Vera M. B. Foss and Junemma Foss Library Fund c/o Michael Benjamin, Principal, Hancock Grammar School, 33 Cemetery Road, Hancock, ME 04640 (Tel. 207-422-6231).

Arrangements by Jordan-Fernald, 113 Franklin St. Ellsworth. Condolences may be expressed at www.jordanfernald.com
Published on  April 13, 2016
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