FALMOUTH — Cora Arbo “Tootsie” Gagnon, 96, of St. Matthews, S.C., and formerly of Maine, died Feb. 11 after a short illness. She was a traveler and loved meeting new people.
Gagnon was born May 3, 1916, in West Boxford, Mass., to Persis Whittier Arbo and Carroll Snow Arbo. She grew up in Maine as part of a large family. As the oldest daughter, she often led her siblings in adventures in the Brownville woods. She graduated from Hampden Academy in 1933 with a good classical education as well as success in sports, especially basketball.
She met her future husband Will while working in Amesbury, Mass., and married on Sept. 3, 1934, to start a family. Moves from Amesbury included Dover, N.H., Hampden, and then Falmouth. She raised two sons, Bill Jr. and David, in Falmouth.
She always had a love of learning, teaching, and a concern for others. Her kitchen was a popular meeting place for coffee, snack, or a meal. Saturday night bean suppers were a special treat. She loved working with youngsters and was a leader for Girl Scouts , 4-H Club, Extension Agency, teenagers dance instructor, and a swimming and life-saving instructor. She had a special interest in eating right, long before many of the trends we take for granted today.
When her husband was disabled, she went to work to support the family and worked at several jobs including selling photo services, as an Arthur Murray dance instructor, parts clerk for two heavy equipment dealers, and spent the last 10 years of her career as medical records clerk at Pineland Center. She studied at what now is USM to upgrade her skills. She took up road racing in her early 60s, winning her class often.
Upon retirement from Pineland, she and her husband set up a winter home in Cherokee Sound, Great Abaco Island, Bahamas, spending winters there for several decades. She taught the youngsters how to swim and a better appreciation of the wonders of the tropical paradise they lived in. Sugar cookies and sour orange drink at her kitchen dutch door were a favorite for the kids.
A summer home in Pembroke, and a winter home in St. Matthews, S.C., added to their scope of new friends. Travel in their RV brought many adventures and new friends throughout the south and beyond. She loved to sing and recite poetry learned as early as grade school.
She is predeceased by her husband, William J.; a son, Bill Jr.; her brothers, Alexander, Arthur, Elwood, Les and Kenny; and her sisters, Esther and Elizabeth.
She is survived by her sister, Ida Lou Blake, of La Feria, Texas; a son, David, and his wife, Ann, of Falmouth; grandchildren Lisa Marie, Craig, Jeffrey, Charles, David, Elwood John, Julie, and Susan; and several great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. Family was important to her and she visited nieces Donna, Beth Ann, Linda, Pam, and Phil whenever possible. Especially important to her was her friend and caregiver late in life, Sandy Miller, of Machias.
She will be returned home to Brownville, her father’s birthplace, and will be buried at Pine Tree Cemetery.