BANGOR AND STOCKHOLM - Vivian Amanda (Sandstrom) Merritt, 88, of Stockholm and Bangor, died peacefully surrounded by her family on June 26, 2014 at the Maine Veteran's Home in Bangor.
She and her identical twin sister, Lillian were born at home in Stockholm, Jan. 7, 1926, the first of seven children, to Carl and Lillian Oberg Sandstrom.
She grew up on the farm during the depression, attending the Stockholm Elementary School, where no one could tell her and Lillian apart. Throughout their lives both were referred to as "Twin." Later she and Lillian took the train to Caribou where they stayed during the week while attending Caribou High School. It was during wartime and with the young men heading off to war, the twins were active in the tractor corp and as nurses aides. They graduated in 1944. Over the years they looked forward to their class reunions with great enthusiasm. Vivian taught third and fourth graders, several of whom were her cousins, at the Stockholm School during World War II. In 1947 tragedy struck when her father and two other prominent Stockholm farmers drowned in Long Lake. Later that year she was crowned "Miss Caribou." The Aroostook Republican ran an amusing photo spread of Vivian and Lillian battling over the "Miss Caribou" sash. In 1949 she married John C. Merritt of Fort Fairfield, her loving husband of nearly 60 years. In 1950 their first born, John Junior, arrived followed by five daughters over the course of the next twenty years: Debra, Judith, Pamela, Holly, and Amy. Vivian and John made their home first in Stockholm, then Caribou, followed by Bangor, returning to Stockholm upon retirement.
Mom's passions were her family, cooking, entertaining, making things grow, sewing, and playing cards and cribbage. Nothing made her happier than planning a gathering of friends and family; she particularly enjoyed planning the menu. Saturday mornings were filled with beans baking, bread rising, and on special occasions enchiladas assembled for Saturday night parties. Everyone looked forward to dining at the Merritts, where good food, good cheer, and good friends and family were guaranteed.
From the time their family was young, John and Vivian shared their love of the outdoors with their kids. Sundays after church the picnic basket was loaded into the trunk for a drive to a picnic area with Nana, Pa, and several relatives. Prior to the advent of snowmobiles, the family was off to the ski slopes. Later John and Vivian shared many good times snowmobiling in the winter, and they enjoyed boating and later motoring in their Winnebago in the summer. Mom passed on her passion for walking (especially after meals) to her children and grandchildren, a tradition that has become a part of the lives of those with which she shared them.
Vivian was predeceased by her husband, John, her twin sister, Lillian, her brothers, Frederick and Jerry, and lifelong friend, Vivian Anderson. She is survived by siblings, Carl (Buddie) Sandstom and Norma Sund of Stockholm, and John Sandstom of Southington, Conn.; children, John Jr. and wife, Karen of Hixson, Tenn.; Debra Maidlow and husband, Richard of Bangor; Judith Oleksyk and husband, Steven of Frankfort; Pamela Norton and husband, Gary of Brewer; Holly Taylor and husband, Christopher of Kingfield; and Amy Merritt and husband, Michael Ouellette of Laurel, Md.; grandchildren, Elizabeth and Timothy Merritt; Sean, Kevin and Ryan Trafton; Karrie Perry, Meghan and Laura Simonds; Lillian and Avery Taylor; and six great-grandchildren: Katelyn Vivian and Evelyn Perry; Olivia and twin sisters, Madeline and Eleanor Trafton; and Owen Merritt. Vivian is also survived by special nephew, Scott Sandstrom and special friend, Beverly Joy. Vivian's family wishes to thank the staff and residents of the Country Villa for welcoming her into their caring and loving home away from home.
Relatives and friends are welcome to call 4-6 p.m. Thursday, July 3, 2014, at Brookings-Smith, 133 Center St., Bangor. A memorial service will be held at a later date in Stockholm. Those who wish to remember Vivian in a special way may make gifts in her memory to a charity of your choice. Condolences to the family may be expressed at www.BrookingsSmith.com.