Cecelia R. Phillips


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Newcastle - Cecelia R. Phillips, longtime resident of Newcastle, peacefully passed away with her daughter by her side at the Zimmerli Pavilion at St. Andrews Village in Boothbay Harbor, on the evening of September 4th, 2017. Born on May 13, 1925 in Presque Isle, ME, Cecelia was the daughter of Arthur and Lenna Reynolds.
Cecelia (Sis) was predeceased by her parents; her brother, Arthur of Presque Isle; beloved husband, Frederick; son, Alan; and her cousin and best friend, Joan Allen of Presque Isle.
Cecelia's lifelong passions were her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, her painting, her gardens, and her love of Maine's natural and wild places. After graduating from high school in Presque Isle, Cecelia attended Rhode Island School of Design for a short time to pursue her love of art. Her knowledge of gardening led her to summer jobs in Northeast Harbor, where she created flower arrangements at the Asticou Inn in the mornings and walked up the Asticou Terrace Trail in the afternoons to welcome visitors at Thuya Lodge in Thuya Garden. In Northeast Harbor she met her future husband Frederick Phillips, who lived across from the Inn.
Cecelia and Fred were married in 1948 in Philadelphia. They moved to Presque Isle a couple of years later. Daughter Cathy was born in 1952, and son Alan in 1954. Always a creative mother, Cecelia devised outdoor projects and activities in their neighborhood; flooding the back lawn provided a skating rink for Cathy's birthday; skiing with Cathy and Alan down the middle of Third Street during a blizzard was great exercise; suggesting her daughter and a friend publish a neighborhood newspaper and sell it became a reality; and allowing Alan to have pet rabbits in the back yard. Cecelia also happily nurtured the numerous perennial beds that her mother had planted many years before; iris, delphinium, and daylilies flourished. On weekends, she and Fred would take the family for drives to the woods, fields, lakes, and streams of Aroostook County. Fred and Alan would often fish; Cecelia and Cathy would identify wildflowers, shrubs, and trees. Cecelia loved children, and for several years she had a nursery school in her Third Street home.
In 1973 the family relocated to Newcastle, when Fred was asked to become the first president of Damariscotta Bank and Trust. Cecelia taught reading at the Bristol School. Later, she opened Homespun Exchange in downtown Damariscotta with River Road friend, Margaret Baker; meeting and supporting local artists was a primary goal of the shop; custom handknitted sweaters and POD pottery became hallmarks of the store. During summertime, Cecelia also transformed the land surrounding their River Road home; rock walls were created, perennial gardens established, and woodland paths cleared. When grandchildren were born, they were enveloped in creative and loving activities both indoors and out.
Throughout her life, Cecelia captured the places, plants, and people she loved in her paintings. Watercolor became her favorite medium. Exhibit venues included the Mclaughlin Garden in South Paris, Pemaquid Watershed Association, and Rising Tide in Damariscotta. She was always pleased that her work which hangs on the walls of the Lincoln Home and Miles Hospital could bring comfort and joy to others. For many years, Cecelia enjoyed the camaraderie of shared space at the Pemaquid Art Gallery. She also treasured her many years of painting classes, especially with Jean Harris. When one bought a Phillips painting, it was often accompanied by a small paragraph asking the recipient to respect and conserve the flora and wild places of Maine. She especially treasured annual trips to Baxter and Kidney Pond that she shared with Fred.
Cecelia is survived by her daughter, Catherine of New Harbor, ME; her granddaughter, Alice of Portland, OR; granddaughter, Amelia of Baltimore, MD; grandson, Scott and his wife Amy of Hillsborough, NC; and grandson, James and his wife Caitlin of Blacksburg, VA; great-grandchildren, Cullen, Caroline, and Cecelia Jewitt. She also leaves behind a niece, Constance and her husband Jim of Presque Isle.
A celebration of Cecelia's life will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, September 16th at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, 11 Glidden St., Newcastle, with a reception to follow in the undercroft. Memorial donations may be made to Friends of Baxter State Park, PO Box 322, Belfast, ME 04915 or by visiting: www.baxterstatepark.org.
Arrangements are under the direction and care of Strong-Hancock Funeral Home, 612 Main Street, Damariscotta, Maine. Condolences, and messages for her family, may be expressed by visiting: www.StrongHancock.com.
Published on September 11, 2017
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