Barbara's Story

TOPSHAM - Barbara Savage Thompson died on Friday, February 27 after a brief illness while in hospice care at Cadigan Lodge in Topsham, Maine. Born on April 26, 1920, in Bangor, Maine, to parents Elizabeth Sullivan Savage and Paul Chapman Savage, Barbara's long and varied life experiences are a cause for celebration of the strength, courage, and integrity for which she will be long remembered. Having studied dance and theater from an early age, she graduated from Bangor High School in 1938 and entered the University of Maine Class of 42 to focus on her degree in Theater Arts and Literature. While awards for her many scholarly and leadership achievements in college are well documented in the annals of the University of Maine, her proudest moments were those on stage with the Maine Masque Players, performing roles such as Ophelia in Shakespeare's Hamlet and Emily in Thornton Wilder's Our Town.

Upon college graduation she joined an experimental management trainee program at Kendall Mills in Walpole, Massachusetts for which she appeared in Mademoiselle magazine. In October 1943, she enlisted in the Marine Corps at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and served in a pilot simulation training program, as a drill sergeant and was discharged a Second Lieutenant in December 1945. She married Jose Cuetara in 1946 and had three children Paul, Joseph, and Laura. Following a divorce, she moved to Orono, Maine and worked as an elementary school teacher while raising her three children as a single parent. While living in Orono, Maine, she became deeply committed to her work in the League of Women Voters, pursued her passion for the theater through her participation in a number of play reading and theater appreciation clubs, earned a Master's Degree in Education from the University of Maine.

In 1972, Barbara attended a 30th college class reunion and rekindled an old friendship with Elmer P. ("Tommy") Thompson. They married in 1974 and moved to his home in Havelock, North Carolina, where she continued to teach as well as to enlarge the scope of her civic activities in the area of environmental and recycling awareness and became an accomplished photographer. These "newlyweds" of 54 planned and built a log cabin in Brownfield, Maine, and spent the happiest summers of their lives together for almost twenty years. Tommy died in 1992 and she returned to Havelock in the winter; and Brownfield in the summer. In 1994, Barbara moved to the Highland's in Topsham, Maine where she lived for the remaining years of her life, continuing to grow, to learn and to expand her vision of the dimensions of her life.

At the age of 88, Barbara published Living Mostly in Maine, an autobiography which inspired her many friends to remember and value the journey of their lives. In addition to her three children she leaves four step-children, nine grandchildren and their children. Barbara's leadership and graciousness of spirit are well remembered in the Highland's community and her contributions as a teacher, friend, and writer ... who embraced the full force of life until the day she died.

Internment services with full military honors will be held in late May at the Pine Grove Cemetery in Brownfield, Maine. In lieu of flowers, donations in her name to The Pine Tree Society of Maine or The Children's Learning Center in Rochester, New Hampshire would be greatly appreciated by her family. Arrangements are in the care of Smith & Heald Funeral Home, 63 Elm Street, Milford, NH. To share a memory or offer a condolence, please go to
Published in Bangor Daily News
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