Melissa J.R. Bourque, 47: A mother's caring extended to schools, church, community

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PORTLAND — Melissa Jane Rector Bourque, 47, died Dec. 25 at her home in Portland, with her family by her side, after a long and courageous battle with Crohn’s disease and colon cancer.

Bourque was born in Boston on Oct. 31, 1967, the only daughter and youngest of four children of Jane Christison Rector Coles and Frederick P. Rector.

In 1970, the family moved from Needham, Massachusetts, to Camden, where Bourque grew up participating in church, school and community activities. She attended Camden-Rockport schools until her junior year in high school, when she and her mother moved to Portland.

Bourque graduated in 1986 from Deering High School, where she was a member of the National Honor Society and a participated in chorus and theater. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in 1990 from the University of New Hampshire.

She then returned to Portland, where she took a job as an admissions representative of then-Westbrook College. While back in Portland, she met her future husband, Michael Bourque.

Melissa moved to the Washington, D.C., area to pursue a graduate degree at Johns Hopkins University, but later took a position as the education director for Junior Achievement of Central Maryland. She then transferred to a similar position with Junior Achievement in the greater Portland office.

In August 1995, she married Michael, and the couple began a nearly 20-year life together in Portland. In 1996, Melissa began work as director of membership at the Greater Portland Chamber of Commerce, where she helped the chamber grow to record enrollment.

In 2000, Bourque gave birth to twins, Kathryn Rose and William Michael. The family lived on Bedell Street in Portland’s Deering neighborhood, and moved to Noyes Street in 2005. When her children began attending the Nathan Clifford Elementary School, Bourque became a school volunteer and immersed herself in the parent-teacher organization, coordinating events and becoming chairwoman within a few years.

She later volunteered at King Middle School, served on the Building Committee for the Ocean Avenue School, and earned recognition in 2014 from the Portland School Board as an outstanding volunteer.

In 2003, after serving as a board member of Junior Achievement of Southern Maine, she accepted an invitation to become president of the organization. Under her leadership, it helped thousands of Maine students understand basic principles of business and the economy. When she left Junior Achievement in 2010 to focus on her health, the organization was enjoying a financial boost from winning beneficiary status of the Beach to Beacon 10K road race.

Bourque loved to sing, and was a member of the Trinity Episcopal Church choir and the Musica de Filia women’s choir. She also enjoyed spending time at the family’s camp at Damariscotta Lake, vacationing in Europe and Alaska, and accompanying her children to seemingly countless games, practices, events and performances.

She was predeceased by her mother, Jane Rector Coles, formerly of South Portland.

She is survived by her husband, Michael, and her children, Kathryn and William. She is also survived by her father, Fred Rector, of Thomaston; her stepmother, Marian Rector; and her three brothers, Frederick Rector and his wife, Karin, of Camden, Christopher Rector and his wife, Betsy, of Thomaston, and Timothy Rector and his wife, Mary, of Waterville.

Bourque’s family wishes to thank the friends who helped throughout her illness, as well as many nurses and medical professionals, including those from Hospice of Southern Maine, New England Cancer Specialists and the Gibson Pavilion of Maine Medical Center.

Family and friends are invited to visitation on Tuesday, Dec. 30, from 4-7 p.m., at Jones, Rich & Hutchins Funeral Home, 199 Woodford St., Portland. A memorial service will be held at Trinity Episcopal Church, 580 Forest Ave., Portland, on Wednesday, Dec. 31, at 1 p.m.

Interment will be in the spring at Evergreen Cemetery, in Portland.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a contribution in Bourque’s honor to Trinity Episcopal Church, 580 Forest Ave., Portland, ME 04102; to King Middle School (Attn: The Melissa Bourque Fund), 92 Deering Ave., Portland, ME 04102; or to a charity of one’s choice.

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