Celia Myrtle McCafferty Gray

HAMPDEN and WEST SEDGWICK — Celia Myrtle McCafferty Gray passed away Friday, Aug. 8, 2014, at St. Joseph Hospital in Bangor from natural causes. She was born June 3, 1922, in Winn, Maine, to Bernard W. and Elizabeth Ann (Hanscom) McCafferty. Her recipe for a long life: keep busy, smile at people, be enthusiastic about life and embrace all its possibilities.

Celia moved to Penobscot at the age of 12 with her parents and younger sister, Kathleen, and went on to graduate from Clark High School there in 1938. She loved to attend the annual Clark High School alumni reunions and as recently as this year visited with her classmate Marcia Robertson in Penobscot. She lived an industrious life, constantly working or volunteering and always looking for the next interesting thing to do. As a teenager she worked picking strawberries for 50 cents a day, worked at the Penobscot Corn Factory and waitressed at The Haven in Brooklin during summers. She attended the World’s Fair in New York in 1939 and it was quite the eye-opener for this young small town girl.

Celia married the only man she ever loved, Lyman Franklin Gray, in Penobscot, Jan. 27, 1940. They moved to Portland, where her first son, Calvin Wadsworth Gray, was born Feb. 25, 1941. When Lyman enlisted into the Army during World War II, she moved back to Bangor to live with her parents and work at Nissan’s Bakery. In January 1944, she answered the WWII Rosie-the-Riveter call, got the training and worked as a welder at Bath Iron Works. Late that year, she moved to Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland, where Lyman was assigned and she gave birth July 25, 1945, to her second son, Bernard Lyman Gray, in Havre de Grace, Md.

After the war, in 1946 when Lyman was discharged, the family moved back to Bangor, where Celia waitressed at a restaurant on Exchange Street. She gave birth to her daughter, Linda Isabel Gray, on Sept. 16, 1947. Their family now complete, they moved to Lyman’s Gray Family Farm in West Sedgwick in 1950, where she helped Lyman raise 20,000 chickens at a time, a new flock arriving about every three months. Celia kept working at various part-time pursuits: as an aide at Penobscot Nursing Home, as a substitute teacher in Sedgwick elementary schools, as a cashier at the Blue Hill A&P, and as an Avon representative in Sedgwick, Brooklin, Brooksville and Penobscot.

The United States Census always fascinated Celia and she became a census taker in the 1960 census, then continued to do so for the 1980 and 1990 censuses as well. She was sad to encounter the change in people’s demeanor over those years, the families in 1960 inviting her in for coffee but the families in 1990 requesting that she leave the form for them to mail. She prided herself in voting in every state and national election that came along.

In the 1960s, Celia worked in retail sales in Ellsworth at the J.J. Newberry Store, the Ellsworth Music Store and the Curtis Shoe Store for several years. When her husband opened Gray’s Shell Service in Bucksport, she went with him to be his office manager and they moved to Orland. Later in the ’70s, she explored weaving, carding and spinning classes at HOME in Orland and found a new passion. She opened her own “Loom Room” in Orland and went on to spend the next 40 years weaving scarves, rugs, placemats, table runners, patchwork style woven bedcovers, wall-hangings and more, at one point owning five different types and sizes of looms.

A few years after Celia’s husband passed away in 1981, she moved to Hampden to be near her daughter, Linda. She then enrolled in computer classes at the age of 65, became a volunteer with RSVP and with the Hampden Historical Society, where she developed another new passion: genealogy. She and Linda published two collections of stories from Hampden residents about their early days in Hampden, “Echoes from the Past” and “Echoes from the Past, Volume II.” She enjoyed the common love of history that the members shared and went on to join over 10 historical societies and genealogical societies throughout Penobscot and Hancock counties and into Canada (home of her father’s ancestors). She became a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, then enrolled her daughter, Linda and granddaughter, Laura. She enrolled her sons, Bernard and Calvin into the companion Sons of the American Revolution, then her grandsons, Sterling, Tyler and Daniel as well.

These connections led her to thousands of volunteer hours over the years with the Hampden Historical Society, the Frances Dighton Chapter of DAR and the National DAR organization for whom she entered membership information into their national databases and did computer indexing of books in their national library throughout her 70s and 80s.

In her later years, she especially enjoyed celebrating all family occasions and all holidays with a lobster dinner at Angler’s Restaurant in Hampden. The only exception was St. Patrick’s Day when she celebrated her Irish ancestry with a traditional Irish boiled dinner at Geaghan’s Restaurant in Bangor.

Celia was an avid reader all her life, instilled that love of reading and appreciation of poetry into her children at an early age and filled her homes with books, having an open one at her armchair and her bedside at all times.

Celia is survived by her son, Bernard Lyman Gray of Coral Springs, Fla.; her daughter, Linda Isabel (Gray) Martin and husband, Dewey Webster Martin, of Hampden; her sister, Kathleen Vivian McCafferty of Orrington; her brother, Bernard Alfred McCafferty of Whiting; and her daughter-in-law, Vera (Graves) Gray of Beverly Hills, Mich. She also leaves several grandchildren and great-grandchildren, Sterling Michael Gray and wife, Wendy (Rhode) Gray and their sons, Austin Matthew Gray and Connor Michael Gray of Austin, Texas; Tyler Philip Martin and wife Andrea Sue (Page) Martin and their sons, Samuel Levi Martin and Beckett Philip Martin of Bangor; Daniel Lyman Martin and wife, Susan (Denison) Martin of Burbank, Calif.; Laura Elizabeth (Martin) Sacco and husband, Justin Alexander Sacco of Brighton, Mass. She leaves several nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews. Celia was predeceased by her parents (mother in 1960 and father in 1982); by her husband, Lyman Franklin Gray, in 1981; by her grandson, Eric Matthew Gray, in 1989; and by her son, Calvin Wadsworth Gray, in 2002.

Family and friends are invited to visit 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014, at Hampden-Gilpatrick Funeral Home, 45 Western Ave., Hampden. A memorial service honoring Celia’s life will be held 11 a.m. Friday, Aug. 15, 2014, at the funeral home with Pastor Robert Hartell officiating. Burial will be at Mt Rest Cemetery, North Brooksville in the family plot at a later date. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be sent to the Hampden Historical Society, c/o Vivian Gresser, Treasurer, P.O. Box 456, Hampden, ME 04444 or to the Bangor Public Library, c/o Barbara McDade, Director, 145 Harlow St., Bangor, ME 04401.

Know when to pay your respects.