Ann McGraw Bonsey

Blue Hill

Ann McGraw Bonsey, 88, died July 24, 2022, at Parker Ridge in Blue Hill. The daughter of Richard and Helen McGraw, Ann was born at Blue Hill Memorial Hospital on May 26, 1934. Raised in Surry, where she met her beloved husband, Osmond, Ann was educated in Surry and Ellsworth, graduating from Ellsworth High School in 1951, and attending Gorham State Teachers College for one year after that.

In 1952, Ann and Osmond married at the Surry Methodist Church. After the ceremony, eager to begin their lives together, they ran down the hill to the reception at Ann’s childhood home. Together they built a happy family and strong partnership as Ann supported Osmond in his career as a town manager in several Maine municipalities including Corinth, Mars Hill, Freeport, Falmouth and Yarmouth. In the late ’50s, Ann became a correspondent for The Brunswick Record, reporting on the social happenings in Freeport.

Eventually Ann returned to college and in 1967, she received her teaching degree from the University of Maine at Portland-Gorham and embarked on her own successful career. She taught English at Westbrook High School for almost 25 years, where she was known as an innovative, compassionate teacher who could reach even the most challenging students. As one of her students wrote her in 1983, “You have a great way with teaching and understanding teenagers and I feel lucky that I was able to have you this year. You’ve made me realize to be myself, and to be honest with people and you’ll get a lot in return. Well, it worked for me, and I’m sure for others. I’ve changed a lot since September, and I owe it all to you. You’re the greatest.”

Early in her teaching career, Ann created a unique class called Learning About Yourself where she encouraged students to gain insights into themselves and to talk and write about their experiences.

A 1982 Parade Magazine article by Alex Haley, in which he wrote about the power of writing thank you letters, inspired Ann to create an annual Thanksgiving writing assignment where students wrote to the adults in their lives who had made a difference, and then wrote essays about the experience of giving words as gifts. Ann had the good fortune to share the powerful impact of this activity when she had breakfast with Haley at a conference in Des Moines where he was the keynote speaker.

Notably, Ann was one of the first female teachers to dare to wear a pantsuit to work; she led the charge for a non-smoking teachers’ room in the ’70s, and in 1997, she resigned her membership in the Methodist Church, primarily due to the church’s lack of inclusion for all.

Ann and Osmond loved to dance, and they enjoyed entertaining, often hosting parties for family and friends, as well as for local community groups. Always stylish, always looking her best, and usually smiling, Ann appeared in print ads for LL Bean and Parker Ridge, and as an extra, along with Osmond, in Stephen King’s movie “Thinner.”

“Annie,” as her grandchildren called her, loved being a grandmother. She baked them delicious muffins and bread, attended countless sporting and school events, hosted them for overnight adventures and encouraged their individual pursuits. Her then 12-year-old granddaughter Kourtney once wrote in a letter to both Annie and Ozzie, “When I look into those caring eyes, I see myself, a young girl, becoming stronger, smarter and kinder, influenced by their powerful guidance. They always joke around and play with me when I need a friend to hang out with. Whenever I curl up in one of their laps, I feel safe and warm. I can’t even tell you how lucky I feel to have them as my grandparents.”

Ann became a second mother and friend to many. In 1962, the Young Mother’s Club in Freeport sponsored the “Fresh Air Fund,” which gave inner-city children a taste of a different environment for a few weeks in the summer. As Evelyn now tells it, when she stepped off the bus in Portland at 9 years old and met her pretty, loving host mother, it changed her life. To this day Evelyn remains a member of the Bonsey family and last summer when Evelyn visited, Ann’s eyes sparkled.

Ann and Osmond spent many happy summers at their camp on Crescent Lake in Raymond, which they lovingly shared with their children, grandchildren and many other family and friends for more than 50 years.

In 1991, Ann and Osmond retired to their hometown of Surry and built their dream home on ancestral land overlooking Union River Bay, where she and Osmond took daily walks on Newbury Neck, ventured out in kayaks and cross-country skis, tended to their house and garden and hosted many memorable events.

Ann donated her time and talents to such organizations as the Surry Community Improvement Association, the Surry Historical Society and the Surry Garden Club. For a time, she was an active member of the Hancock County Democratic Committee, and for several years she volunteered at the Ellsworth Public Library and at The Grand in Ellsworth.

Ann is survived by her daughter Lynn Bonsey and her husband, Gil Lacroix, of Bucksport; her daughter Lorna Healey and her husband, John Healey, of Litchfield; her son Cameron Bonsey of Kennebunk; her sister Jane Smith and her partner Art Shields of Surry; seven grandchildren of whom she was very proud: Brandon Bonsey of Arlington, Va.; Michael Healey and his wife, Kayla McCaffrey, of Westbrook; Ryan Campbell and his partner Emily Hedeman of Medford, Mass.; Kourtney Bonsey and her husband, Kevin Greene, of Kennebunk; Christopher Healey and his fiancée Faith Foster of Portland; Hilary Eyestone and her husband, Ryan Eyestone, of Gorham; and Sam Bonsey of South Portland. She is also survived by a great-grandson, William Healey of Westbrook. Ann was predeceased by a stillborn daughter, Lisa Ann, and by her husband, Osmond, in 2016.

The caregivers from Northern Light Homecare and Hospice provided support and comfort to Ann as she neared the end of her life.

Ann received remarkable attention and care from the caregivers and the staff at Parker Ridge, where she resided for more than a decade. Ann’s positive attitude and natural social skills, her humor and her laughter, and her natural ability to connect with others, won the hearts of those who cared for her.

A graveside gathering will take place on Sunday, July 31, at 1 p.m. at the Village Cemetery in Surry at 26 Playhouse Road. Friends and family are invited to attend.

Gifts in Ann’s memory may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association, 383 U.S. Route 1; Suite 2C, Scarborough, ME 04074.

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