- Sonia Mitchell Erskine, AKA Mama Pine, 73, a cherished member of the Dixmont community, passed peacefully under the quilt that was handmade by her parents, Seth Alvah Mitchell and Clarice (Garcelon) Mitchell, after a courageous battle with ALS, in her home surrounded by loved ones on Wednesday, November 9th, 2016.
Born in Hartland on July 3rd, 1943, Sonia grew up in Dixmont, starting her education in the one-room Garfield Schoolhouse in North Dixmont. She graduated high school from Maine Central Institute in 1960. Following graduation, she attended EMGH School of Nursing for one year before marrying her sweetheart, Robert Erskine. Staying in their hometown, they were a vital part of the community as they raised their five loving children. This past June they celebrated 55 years of marriage.
Sonia gave more of herself than could ever be returned. Her 28 years with the U.S. Postal Service started as a rural carrier and ended in 2009 as a postal clerk in the Bangor office where she was a familiar face to many. Her service to her community, however, extended far beyond her professional career. Despite these commitments, her role as a loving mother and wife truly defined her everlasting mark on this world. Whether it was packing five kids for a fishing trip in the North Maine Woods, exploring the world with her beloved husband, laughing with her Ya-Ya Sisters, or graciously hosting friends and family at Camp Pine, Sonia never let life pass her by.
Volunteering as leader of the local 4-H club for 24 years, Sonia touched countless young lives. Many local youth learned to bake, can, sew, and public speak under Sonia's tutelage, and she made it possible for many to travel to national events. During these years, Sonia was an active member of the Penobscot County Leaders Association, Ladies Extension Group, Penobscot County Extension Association, and the County Extension Board of Directors, including a term as Chairman. She also acted as advisor for the Penobscot County Junior Leaders Association and served on State committees for several 4-H programs. In 1984, Sonia received an award from the Penobscot County Extension Association as their Outstanding Citizen.
Sonia was one of the founding members of both the Dixmont Scholarship Association and the Dixmont Gold Crest Riders Snowmobile Club. She devoted time to raising funds, enabling numerous bright minds to further their education. As an avid snowmobiler, she and her husband enjoyed covering many miles of groomed trails and, sometimes, breaking their own. A good day's ride for her was going at least 100 miles and, if she was leading the ride, good luck keeping up. For 33 years, she participated in the Snowmobile Ride-a-Thon for Pine Tree Camp, raising money for the summer camp for children and adults with special needs. She was passionate about this cause and it meant the world to her to visit the camp this past summer, sharing in the joy it brought her Grandson Max, a camp attendee. Other organizations benefitting from Sonia's involvement included the Dixmont United Methodist Church, Dixmont Historical Society, Dixmont Ladies Club, and the Fire Department Auxiliary.
If you have been in Sonia's kitchen or at the Snowmobile Clubhouse, you know the sweet smell of warm apple pies, seen the yeast rolls rising, tasted the molasses in the baked beans, and salivated as you watched the icing drip over the cinnamon rolls. Of course, we cannot forget slowly unwrapping one of her award-winning whoopie pies. If you're lucky, you probably got a taste because so much of her food was served at the countless events for the many organizations she supported. Well, except for the whoopie pies, as most of those went to lucky thru hikers on the Appalachian Trail. Ma Pine, her trail name, was a trail angel and welcomed many tired and hungry hikers to the family camp for a hot meal and a cold beverage before continuing their journey.
Living with ALS was extremely difficult but Sonia felt blessed with not only her caring and loving family, friends, and neighbors, but also with the medical professionals, caregivers, and ALS support group members who gave her much love and support.
Sonia was predeceased by her parents. Surviving in addition to her husband, Robert Erskine, are her son Rob Erskine and his partner Kristel Liddle of Fort Collins, Colorado, and four daughters, Robin Vile and her husband Bob of Dixmont, Regina Erskine and her partner Alex Gerberick of Portland, Raeleen Erskine of Ellsworth, and Rhonda Lodgek and her husband Matt of Gorham. Sonia was blessed with seven grandchildren, Ashley, Josh, and William Vile, Madison and Megan Erskine, Logan Williams, and Max Lodgek; and three great grandchildren, Rashawn Vile, Elliana Morency and Violet Holmes. Also surviving are her sister Sharon Erskine and husband Dick of Dixmont, three brothers, Stuart Mitchell and his wife Janet of Dixmont, Sheldon Mitchell and his wife Sally of Swanville, and Sam Mitchell of Belfast, and several nieces, nephews, and cousins. She was a devoted friend to many and will be deeply missed by all.
Gestures of remembrance may be made in Sonia's name to the Dixmont United Methodist Church, PO Box 65, Dixmont, ME 04932 either for the building fund for their two historical buildings or contributing toward their monthly free meals.
Family and friends are invited to visit 2-4 and 6-8 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 13th, 2016, at the Hampden-Gilpatrick Chapel of Brookings-Smith, 45 Western Ave., Hampden. A service of remembrance will be held Monday, Nov. 14th, 2016, at the Dixmont United Methodist Church, 990 Western Ave., Dixmont at 10:00 a.m. with Rev. Ellen Bridge presiding. Interment will follow at the Dixmont Corner Cemetery then join us for a reception at the Dixmont Gold Crest Riders Snowmobile Clubhouse on the Cates Rd. where we will continue to celebrate Sonia's life. Condolences to the family can be expressed at .