Beatrice Vera Alexander Burnell, 95: Devoted mother and teacher

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CUMBERLAND — Beatrice Vera Alexander Burnell, 95, died March 8.

She was born in Hollis on Nov. 6, 1916, to John Alexander and Emma Schneider. She attended Hollis schools, graduating from Hollis High School in 1935.

Burnell worked summers at the Lordholm Estate to pay her way through college and graduated from Gorham Normal School in 1938 with a teaching degree. Her first teaching job was in Clarks Mills where she taught all eight grades in a one-room school.

She met her husband, who she would be with for the next 66 years, at a dance and they were married in 1940 in South Paris.

In 1942 they moved to Cumberland to take care of Carlan’s parents and they eventually bought the home where their three children were raised. Burnell was a stay-at-home mom who was always there with cookies and milk when Karole, Dale and Kerry got off the school bus.

She joined the Degree of Pocahontas so that she could have one night a week  “out with the girls.” She was Past Great Pocahontas for the state of Maine and was a member for over 50 years. As her children got older she helped with Brownies and Girl Scouts, becoming a Cub Scout Den Leader and helping with Boy Scouts.

When her children were old enough, she went back to teaching, first as a substitute and then as a teacher’s assistant as well as keeping the books for her husband’s new business. She loved the children she worked with and worked for School Administrative District 51 for 23 years until her retirement at 75. Even though she worked hard, she always had time for her own children.

She loved to crochet, knit, and can and freeze vegetables from her garden. She won many ribbons at the Cumberland Fair. She loved to watch and identify birds. She was an avid reader, especially of the Bible, and when the children were small she taught Sunday School at the Cumberland Congregational Church.

After she retired, she worked in her beautiful flower beds and spent more time reading until she lost her vision to macular degeneration. Her daughter and son-in-law took over the homestead and took care of her until her death.

Burnell was predeceased by her husband, Carlan, in 2006; brothers, Walter and Leon and their wives; sister, Mary Elizabeth and her husband; grandson, John Strattard IV; and her brother-in-law, Douglas Bradbury.

She is survived by her children, Karole and her husband, John Strattard III, Dale and his wife, Diane, Kerry and his wife, Sandy; grandchildren, Kristina Burnell, Steven and his wife, Amy Burnell, Kerry Burnell and his fiancee, Chelsea Cole, Heather and her husband, Shelby Turcotte, Spencer Adams and Jennifer Strattard; great grandson, Jericho; sister, Alice Bradbury; sister-in-law, Nancy Burnell; and two very special girls that she loved dearly, Amy and Sara Viola who called her Grammie B.

The family wishes to thank Louis Hanson, who was her doctor for 33 years, Cumberland Rescue Department, Gosnell Memorial Hospice House and the entire staff of Hospice of Southern Maine for the loving care they gave her in her final days. They kept her comfortable, loved her and made her feel at home and at ease.

A memorial service will be held on March 18 at 1 p.m. at Lindquist Funeral Home, 1 Mayberry Ln., Yarmouth. A reception and time of fellowship will follow at the funeral home. Burial will be later this spring in Moss Side Cemetery in Cumberland.

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