Linda Tillinghast Bickford Slaven was born Sept. 13,1939, in Providence, R.I., the elder daughter of Roswell Perry Bickford and her mother, the fabulously named Elizabeth Amanda Marguerite Cornelia Lien Overvoorde Tillinghast Bickford Hazard. Linda spent a happy childhood surrounded by family in Peacedale, R.I. She attended the Wheeler School and the Roger Williams University School of Nursing, becoming a registered nurse.
In 1963, Linda married Robert K. Slaven Jr., a young naval oﬃcer from Blue Hill. The wedding reception was held at the Dunes Club on Narragansett Bay, a favorite beach spot of her grandmother’s that she would revisit over the years with her own family. Linda and Bob started their life together in New London, Conn., the home of the submarine squadron in which Bob served. This was also where their first child, Rob, was born in 1964. Linda served as an ombudsman to support other spouses whose husbands were at sea for long periods.
Their lives included much travel as Bob’s work as a Navy captain brought them to such places as Naples, Italy, where their daughter Merrill was born, Nebraska, South Carolina and Spain, to name a few. Moving households 11 times would seem daunting to most, but with her incredible organizing skills, Linda didn’t bat an eye!
One fateful day in Virginia, while waiting at a light in her beloved VW bug convertible, Linda was struck by a speeding car, suﬀering a massive brain injury that aﬀected her memory and cognition for the rest of her life. Not once in the decades since did she complain about it. She was good-natured and cheerful every day of her life and her laughter was like golden sunshine to our hearts.
When living in Virginia a second time in 1985, Linda began work as a historical interpreter at Mount Vernon, the riverside home of George Washington, a job she dearly loved, and of which she was particularly proud in light of her memory impairment.
In 1997, after retiring from a satisfying naval career, Linda and Bob moved to Maine and built their house on old family land on the shores of Blue Hill Bay.
Linda’s mother was raised in Paris and was a wonderful cook, influenced by the fresh produce and flowers of the markets there. She passed on this love to Linda, who enjoyed entertaining and was a gracious hostess. She volunteered for years at the Tree of Life food pantry, where she could happily combine her love of food, socializing and organizing shelves! Linda also volunteered at the Blue Hill Hospital and with Friends of the Library. She could throw a baseball like a champ and skip stones better than anyone. She was always up for anything. She loved all things British, especially Agatha Christie, fresh scones with butter and a piping hot cup of tea. Living in England for two years was like a homecoming for her!
It was in Blue Hill where her grandson was born. Being Merrin’s grandmother was the job for which she was made. On days when her health was poor, it was he who could bring a sparkle back to her eyes. Linda ensured she passed on to him old family traditions she had been taught as a girl by her grandmother. We miss our quirky, gentle mom, who always had a ready smile, a friendly word and the brightest sea green eyes. On the day she died, a single blossom bloomed on her Christmas cactus.
Linda is survived by her children Robert K. Slaven III of Tucson, daughter and son-in-law Merrill and Gerry Brache of Orland, grandson Merrin and a dear step-granddaughter, Emily Brache of Nassau, N.Y., as well as her sister and brother-in-law Suzie and Steve Elsasser of Tucson. In her memory, maybe consider doing something generous and kind for a stranger, or visit someone who is lonely. Invite someone in for tea, laugh, smile lots.
She faced the trials at the end of her life and the loss of her beloved husband of 57 years with dignity and gracefulness. When anyone extended a smile, a kind word, a generous gesture, it meant everything.
Those connections were her joy, her reason for being. The smiles, hugs and love were the things that mattered.
May she be eating lemon cake and ice cream now to her heart’s content. A service will be held shortly at St. Francis in Blue Hill.