Louise F. Bennett, 85: Longtime social worker advocated for environment, women's rights

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SOUTH PORTLAND — Elma Louise Ficken Bennett, 85, died June 7.

Bennett was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, on July 15, 1929, to Elma Louise Michel Ficken and Clarence Elwood Ficken.

She grew up in St. Paul until she was 16. Her family then moved to Ohio after her father became the dean of Ohio Wesleyan University. She graduated from the school in 1951 with a bachelor’s degree in English. While a student, Bennett was active in the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority and the Mortar Board honorary society, and served as president of the YWCA.

She went on to work as a high school English teacher and a hospital lab technician. She also worked for the American Cancer Society.

At age 51, Bennett earned a master’s degree in social work from Catholic University. She relocated to Maine after taking a nearby windjammer cruise, and then became a licensed social worker in both public and private practice.

A lifelong lover of nature, Bennett expressed her concern for ecological health in essays, poems, editorial letters and other writings. She relished her participation in many writing groups and a book club. She was also deeply concerned about social justice issues and worked for women’s rights throughout most of her life.

Bennett enjoyed art and jazz music, playing flute and piano, and loved to sail, ski and play tennis. She was an active member of the League of Women Voters and of Allen Avenue Unitarian Church.

Bennett was predeceased by her parents and her sister, Ruth Anne Ficken Gustad.

She is survived by her spouse and partner of 26 years, Concetta Domenico; three children, Michael DeHart, of Takoma Park, Maryland, Jean DeHart, of Charlotte, North Carolina, and Amy DeHart and her husband, S. Morris Trimmer, of Lexington, Virginia; a niece, Ann Gustad Leiker, of Hays, Kansas; four grandchildren and her dog, Sophie.

A graveside blessing was held June 12 at Calvary Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Hospice of Southern Maine, 180 U.S. Route 1, Scarborough, ME 04074.

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