Phyllis's Story

PRESQUE ISLE - Phyllis (Schwartz) Hutchins, 87, passed away at her Leisure Village home in Presque Isle on Tuesday, October 13, 2015, the anniversary of her mother's birth. Phyllis was born on April 13, 1928, in Aroostook Junction, New Brunswick, the daughter of Herbert and Merinda (Russell) Schwartz.

At the age of nine, Phyllis, and her family, moved across the boundary to Fort Fairfield, Maine, where she later graduated from high school. On August 31, 1950, she married Fort Fairfield native Leonard W. Hutchins, Jr. Along with raising her family of two boys and two girls, Phyllis took on many challenges throughout her lifetime. Most notably she and Leonard owned and operated the OxBow Lodge & Dining Room from 1968 to 1986. Initially supported by the help of friend and neighbor Kay Currier, and later joined by others including Rita Sherman, Phyllis' cooking became an Aroostook County legend.

Phyllis was also an excellent seamstress. Out of both joy and necessity, she made most all of her children's clothing, as well as Leonard's suits. In her retirement, Phyllis sewed hundreds of items to be given away as Christmas presents through the United Way and other charities. Between her sewing room and Leonard's woodworking shop, they made doll cribs complete with mattresses, sheets, blankets, and pillows; bear chairs and rockers; trucks, trailers, treasure chests, and more. They operated a year-around toy shop even Santa Claus could appreciate, earning them the United Way of Aroostook's 2011 Volunteers of the Year Award. Phyllis also made dozens of quilts each year for Project Linus.

Phyllis is survived by Leonard, her husband of 65 years, and her sister, Sister Mary Denis (Alene Edith Schwartz) of the Sisters of Mercy, Portland. The two girls always shared a special bond as the "middle" children of eight. Phyllis is also survived by sisters-in-law Eleanor Hutchins (George) Barnes of Tacoma, Washington, and Jane Zelle (Gardner) Hutchins of Wheaton, Illinois; her children, Peter (Suzanne Tweedie) Hutchins of West Enfield, Paul Hutchins of Presque Isle, Dottie (Michael Lavoie) Hutchins of Presque Isle, and Susan (Thomas) Ronayne of Levant; grandchildren, Benjamin Hutchins of Millinocket, Michael (Courtney Bean) Michaud of Milton, Florida, and Alan (Sarah Mendoza) Michaud of Ramona, California; great-grandchildren Cheyenne Michaud of Ramona, California, and Mark Michaud of Milford, Florida; and many nieces and nephews.

Phyllis was predeceased by her parents; and six siblings and their spouses, Herbert Schwartz, Jr., Russell (Gladys Staten) Schwartz, Alice (Cloud) Hall, Thomas (Rachel Cyr) Schwartz, Robert (Jean Morrell) Schwartz, and Sarah "Sally" (Thomas) Adams.

The family is thankful for the skilled and compassionate staff at Leisure Village, the Presque Isle Rehab and Nursing Center, The Aroostook Medical Center, along with TAMC's Aroostook Health Center in Mars Hill and North Street Healthcare in Presque Isle, and the Aroostook Area Agency on Aging. The family is especially grateful for Valerie Theriault, RN, and her colleagues at Professional Home Nursing, who along with Dr. Nancy O'Neill, MD, assisted the family and outstanding caregivers at Leisure Village in providing a loving and comfortable environment for Phyllis.

Phyllis loved flowers - like most all of her projects, she gardened big, filling her flower beds and boxes to overflowing. However, this time, in lieu of flowers for Phyllis, please grow, bake, or make something special for someone you love.

A celebration of Phyllis' life is planned for 1:00 p.m., Saturday, October 24, 2015, at the OxBow Community Center in OxBow, followed by a graveside burial of her ashes. Online condolence may be expressed at www.duncan-graves.com.
Published in Bangor Daily News
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