Elizabeth Annette Vernon, 75, longtime educator, Methodist minister, choir director, pianist, and soldier in the battle for social justice, passed away at Westgate Center for Rehabilitation and Alzheimer's in Bangor on Sept 30, 2016, after a long battle against Alzheimer's disease. She was born November 22, 1941, the eldest child of J. Holland and Dorothy L. (Henry) Vernon in Cincinnati, OH.
Her early childhood years were spent in the little Kansas towns of Hollenberg and Morrowville. Then she moved with her family to Haddam, KS, Calhan, CO, and Laurel, MT, where she graduated from high school in 1959. Liz attended Rocky Mountain and Eastern Montana colleges, and graduated with a BA in Education in 1963. She then taught; 5th grade in Rapelje, and Great Falls, MT; migrant education in Dexter, ME; and English at her son, Rob's Tomato English Language Center in LoTung, Taiwan. Her grandson, Dexter, was born in Lo Tung in 1996. While there, she worked with and advocated for Philippine migrant workers.
The ministry, however, was what she considered to be her true calling. In the early 80s, she went back to school, earning a Master of Divinity and a Minor in Religious Music at Boston University. She served as a United Methodist minister in the Maine communities of Waterville, Kingfield, Easton, and North Brewer. She also served in Harlem, MT, the little towns of Kaycee, and Buffalo, WY, and the towns of East Glastonbury, Portland, and Windsorville, CT. In addition to being an educator and Methodist minister, she was also a talented and inspirational choir director and accompanist. Liz served as choir director and organist at the United Methodist Church in Dexter, Maine. She performed several "Hunger Concerts" with her son Donald around the Dexter area, taught piano in her home, and instructed in Religious Music at Bangor Theological Seminary. She also sang with the Shiretown Singers in Dover-Foxcroft, Maine.
Liz's goal in life was to care for and respect all people and lift them up in every way possible. She saw the beauty and humanity in each person she met. Liz was the person who took care of the folks whom no one else seemed to care about. She had a way of making every person she encountered feel respected and more alive. She was always ready to provide her money, time, and energy to people on the down and out, and to make the world a safer and more humane place. Those who got to know Liz remarked on her kindness and incredible smile and wicked sense of humor. She enjoyed the outdoors and nature, especially walking in Maine's fall woods, and cross country skiing, but her special loves were her sons and her grandson.
Liz is survived by her son, Robert Canning, daughter-in-law, Ruby Canning, and grandson, Dexter Canning of Ripley, Maine; son Donald Canning and daughter-in-law Maureen Chambrone of Fairbanks, Alaska; sisters, Patricia Brown of Belgrade MT; Linden David of Lander, WY; brother Jim Vernon of Livingston, MT; nieces DaNelle Bakke of Havre, MT; BethAnn Bondy of Hamilton, MT; Kezia Willow Engell of Bozeman, MT; Jesse Vernon of Edinburgh, Scotland; Jessica David of Jackson Hole, WY; and Jacob David of Riverton, WY.
A celebration of her life will be held at the First Congregational Church of Brewer (at 35 Church Street, right behind the Brewer Town Offices) at 2:00 o'clock on October 15th.
Expressions of sympathy may be provided in the form of donations to United Methodist Camp Mechuwana, P.O. Box 277,Winthrop, ME 04364.