Frances J.F. Sweetser, 78: Yarmouth native, ran lunch counter

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YARMOUTH — Frances Jane Freeman Sweetser, 78, of New Gloucester, died July 4 at Coastal Manor Nursing Home in Yarmouth, with her family by her side.

She was born in Yarmouth on May 18, 1936, the second of five girls of Mary Jane (Richards) and Gardiner Mansfield. She grew up in the town and graduated from North Yarmouth Academy in 1954.

That fall, Sweetser married Harold Freeman, and the couple moved to North Yarmouth, where they started a family. Harold died in 1966, and Fran then began work for School Administrative District 51, first as a cook and then as a teacher’s aide. In 1973, she married Robert Sweetser, and together they raised the growing family. Bob died in 2003.

Sweetser later worked at the Town and Country Store, managing its lunch counter, which for many years became known as “Fran’s.” She was famous for her bran muffins, delicious pies and strawberry-rhubarb cobbler.

A member of North Yarmouth Congregational Church, Sweetser held a deep religious faith. Family life was important to her, and she loved to entertain. No matter the occasion, Sweetser welcomed all, and was known for her generosity.

Sweetser is survived by her seven children: Sandra Russell, of North Yarmouth; Peter Freeman and his wife, Barbara, of Gray; Glen Freeman and his wife, Ellen, of New Gloucester; Cynthia Freeman, of New Gloucester; Diane Normand and her husband, Kenny, of North Yarmouth; Joan Freeman, of New Gloucester; and Chris Sweetser, of Yarmouth. She is also survived by 15 grandchildren; 18 great-grandchildren; her sisters, Pat Dow, Barbara Reny and husband, Norm, Dottie Cooper and husband, Richard, and Donna Curtis; her sister-in-law, Dot Hayward and husband, Billy; and numerous nieces and nephews.

A celebration of Sweetser’s life will be held on Friday, July 18, at 10 a.m., at North Yarmouth Congregational Church, at the corner of routes 115 and 231. A reception will follow in the church hall. She will be buried in Walnut Hill Cemetery in North Yarmouth.

For those who wish, donations may be made in Sweetser’s memory to the Maine Parkinson Society, 359 Perry Road, Bangor, ME 04401.

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