Aimee Elizabeth Beal Church, 45, of Blue Hill passed away on June 15, 2017, held in love by family and friends, while on holiday in France.
The daughter of Carole Beal and Elmer Beal, Aimee spent her early years on their family farm in Blue Hill and at their Bar Harbor home next to Connors-Emerson Elementary School, which she attended.
Growing up, Aimee was especially close to her sister Kristina. With endless talk and laughter, and a love for wordplay and joking, they spent countless hours in imaginary play, reading on their backs outdoors, singing “Pirates of Penzance” and swimming and walking. More fond memories for Aimee came from a lifetime of MDI Beal family gatherings with many beloved cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles. From ages 11-14, Aimee had a paper route in Bar Harbor. She loved the early morning quiet. She was a voracious reader, which was a lifelong joy, and a gifted musician, playing piano, violin, and French horn. She attended Mount Desert Island High School, where she excelled academically and played in the band, orchestra and jazz band, as well as singing in musicals and writing poetry for the literary magazine.
Following high school, Aimee entered Pittsburgh’s Carnegie-Mellon University as a piano major, switching after two years to creative writing. After graduating in 1994, she volunteered for the Peace Corps and taught English to high school students in Guinea, West Africa. Her return journey included travel through Southern France, an experience that led her to bring her family there most recently.
Upon returning to the States, Aimee attended the University of Pittsburgh and earned an MFA in poetry. This led to a job as managing editor at Alice James Books, a poetry press associated with the University of Maine in Farmington, where she enjoyed five wonderful years. During this period she became what she called an “adult-onset athlete,” enjoying early morning lake swimming, cycling and triathlons.
On her first day in Farmington, Aimee met the love of her life, Jim Church, and they married two years later. They moved to Blue Hill and, with their four hands and many books, built their home on the land she’d lived on as a child. She was a great cook, and appreciated the quality and bounty of food grown and raised on the peninsula.
Aimee’s and Jim’s beloved daughter Maia was born in July 2007, and was almost ready to walk when they moved into their new home. Aimee loved to read to Maia and Maia loved to snuggle close and listen, and they spent many rapt hours reading together. The two shared a love of singing, and this spring sang together with the Misty Mountain Singers. They also found great joy in swimming together. Loving and raising Maia, and time spent with Maia and Jim, was Aimee’s greatest joy.
In 2010, Aimee joined Friends of Acadia as communications director, where she felt very grateful to do meaningful work in a place she loved. She created, designed, edited, took photographs and wrote essays for the Friends of Acadia Journal and managed media relations and the website. Highlights of her career were editing Ron Epp’s book, “Creating Acadia National Park,” and developing the Acadia National Park Centennial website.
In 2011, Aimee was diagnosed with advanced colon cancer. She handled the hardships of treatment with tremendous strength and grace, and appreciated great support from her devoted, ever-loving mother Carole, family, friends and work colleagues. She continued to work until a week before her passing. Her kindness, thoughtfulness, good humor and acceptance of people as they are was remarkable, and will be a lasting inspiration for those close to her.
Aimee’s greatest sadness was in leaving behind a close and loving family (who will miss her always): beloved husband, Jim, beloved daughter, Maia; parents Carole Beal of Blue Hill and Elmer Beal of Otter Creek; two extraordinary sisters, Kristina Beal of Ellsworth and Addie Beal of Otter Creek; Allison Martin of Otter Creek; mother-in-law Jan Church of Southwest Harbor; brothers-in-law Tom Beal, Paul Kaup, Jeff Church and Ethan Cole; sisters-in-law Suzanne Church and Stephanie Church; niece and nephews Eva, Augie, Lindsey, Ewan and Rhys; and many beloved cousins, aunts, uncles and in-laws.
A service celebrating the life of Aimee will be held at Emlen Hall at The Bay School in Blue Hill on Sunday, July 2, 2017, at 1:30 p.m. The service will be under the care of Acadia Friends Quaker Meeting.
Gifts in Aimee’s memory may be made to Friends of Acadia, P.O. Box 45, Bar Harbor, ME 04609; and to The Bay School, P.O. Box 950, Blue Hill, ME 04614.
She loved, and was loved.