FREEPORT – Edith Small Farnum, 94, died with her family at her side Feb. 22, after a short stay at Mercy Hospital. She was born Jan. 19, 1922, in Battle Creek, Michigan, to Raymond and Teresa (Evans) Small. Her father, a strong advocate of education, moved the family east to New Rochelle, New York, to take advantage of its excellent public school system.
Farnum graduated from Baldwin School in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, in 1939, and from Mt. Holyoke College in 1942 with a major in economics and a minor in sociology.
At a very young age, Edie met her future husband, Francis “Peter” Farnum, when both their families summered on Cobbosseecontee Lake outside Augusta. The pair became inseparable, spending the summers sailing, boating, golfing and just enjoying summers in Maine. Their courtship continued while both were in college; Peter would fly his Aeronca Chief to Springfield just to see her. Farnum also loved flying, and earned her pilot’s license after graduating from college. After graduating, she worked building aircraft at Grumman Aircraft in Long Island during the war.
The couple was married in September 1945. Friends often remarked on the love they shared and the depth of their companionship. The summer activities enjoyed at Cobbosseecontee continued throughout their marriage.
Farnum strongly believed in volunteering, which she encouraged her children to do, and served on many community boards. Recently, she was honored for serving on the Women’s Auxiliary Board of the Maine Medical Center for 50 years, which included a term as president. She was not shy about telling nurses and doctors during her recent visit to the hospital that she not only made the best chocolate frappes while volunteering in the coffee shop, she was an early proponent of a smoking ban in the lunch area in the ’60s.
She served on boards at the Women’s Exchange, the Portland Museum of Art, Portland Symphony, the Portland Country Club and the Falmouth PTA. Once the couple sold their house in Falmouth and moved to Freeport in 1976, she became involved in the South Freeport Congregational Church. Everyone knew Farnum loved to cook and clean her kitchen, so she quickly replaced the church’s old appliances with ones she could keep spotless.
Farnum enjoyed boating around Casco Bay, golfing, skiing, playing tennis and bridge. She especially loved babies, and would always walk over to admire one after her own children and grandchildren were grown. Her wit and sense of humor remained with her until moments before her death.
She is survived by her husband; her children, Robert S. Farnum, Susan F. Rippey, Rebecca H. Farnum, Meredith C. Farnum and Peter Francis H. Farnum; 11 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held March 19 at the South Freeport Congregational Church at 1 p.m., followed by a reception at the Portland Country Club.
In lieu of flowers it was Farnum’s wish to have donations made to Preble Street Resource Center, 38 Preble St., Portland, ME 04101, or South Freeport Community Church, 97 South Freeport Rd., South Freeport, ME 04032