Jeanette E. Hamilton, 84: Made her own adventures, loved island life

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CHEBEAGUE ISLAND — Jeanette E. Hamilton, 84, of Chebeague Island, died at Island Commons March 8. She was born in South Portland on July 5, 1931, to Paul E. MacVane and Phyllis (Boyce) MacVane of Cliff Island, the second of seven children.

Hamilton loved the adventure of island life. A self-proclaimed tomboy, she was happiest when hand-hauling traps in Casco Bay, working the bait shack with her father, or assisting him as coach of the Cliff Island baseball team. Hamilton was a natural athlete who excelled in tennis, swimming, and skiing; she received the Blue Ski Club’s highest award during her senior year. Hamilton’s true love, however, was baseball.

After graduating from Portland High School in 1949, she attended an airline stewardess school in Boston. As fate would have it, she was not tall enough to become a stewardess, and so returned to Maine, where she met her future husband at a Chebeague Island dance.

Hamilton worked in the office at Sears Roebuck & Co. until marrying Kenneth H. Hamilton of Chebeague Island on Aug. 8, 1952. They were best friends and enjoyed 63 years of marriage, even though Hamilton was an avid Yankees fan.

She was a member of the Ladies Aid, served as treasurer of the Chebeague Island Methodist Church, and taught Sunday School. For 18 years, Hamilton ran the office of the Chebeague Transportation Company from her home.

After retiring, she most enjoyed gardening, quilting and walking the island in the early morning. She was a strong supporter of the Chebeague Recreation Center and its mission, and she loved spending time there both as a volunteer and as a patron. On any given day, Hamilton could be found weeding the garden, painting the Teen Room, swimming laps in the pool, or showing younger generations how to spike a volleyball.

An adventurous spirit paired with an unrivaled energy, Hamilton’s life was exciting because she made it that way. Cross-country skiing through the woods of Chebeague, leaf-peeping around New England, whale watching in Alaska, or exploring European cities, she made her own adventure wherever she went. Her favorite adventures, however, took place at home with her family. 

Hamilton was predeceased by her parents, her husband, and her brothers, Paul MacVane Jr., of Cliff Island and James MacVane, of Lincoln, California.

She is survived by two daughters, Kendra McKinnon, of Bowdoinham, and Vicki Emery, of Westford, Massachusetts; two sons, Jeffrey Hamilton and Jason Hamilton, both of Chebeague Island; nine grandchildren; eight great-grandchildren;  two sisters, Judith Thibodeau, of Enfield, Connecticut, and Paula MacVane, of Portland; two brothers,  Gordon MacVane, of Lincoln, California, and Gary MacVane, of Cliff Island; and numerous nieces and nephews.

A celebration of life will be held June 11, at the Chebeague Island United Methodist Church at 1 p.m., followed by a reception at the Parish House.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Island Commons, 132 Littlefield Rd., Chebeague Island, ME 04017, or, Chebeague Recreation Center, 382 North Rd., Chebeague Island, ME 04017.