TRENTON — Linda Louise Russell Angel, 51, died Dec. 9, 2009. Her husband Ted, daughter Sarah, sister Pam Trieu, and longtime friends Stacey Nolan Gilfillan of Bar Harbor and Mary Otis were at her side at her home.
She was a warm and buoyant spirit who fought cancer for 11 years. Linda devoted much of her life to helping others. Beyond being the best friend that many people ever had, she spent 15 years as a volunteer for Hospice of Maine, anchored cancer-support groups and worked for more than two decades for the Foster Grandparent and Senior Companion Program of Portland. She profoundly influenced those around her by showing them how to appreciate each day and each other more fully.
Born in Southington, Conn., in 1958 as the second of three daughters of Barbara and Winfield Russell, Linda was a tall, dark-haired beanpole who fell in love with the Maine coast after her family moved to Trenton in 1960. She was always scouring the shore of Western Bay for sea glass and shells, of which she built extensive collections during her lifetime. She was often accompanied by her mom, who shared the passion. Linda enjoyed swimming in the frigid bay so much that she would stay in the water until her lips turned blue, even then insisting to her mom, “I’m not cold!” Through her mother’s cancer death in 1992 and her own battle with the disease, Linda never lost her inner child – or her strength of will. Everyone loved Linda. At Mount Desert Island High School, she became the most popular cross-country team manager in history. She joked about her lack of athletic ability, although she was limber enough to lift her feet behind her head.
After earning a degree in recreational therapy from the University of Maine at Portland-Gorham, she began working in the Redbank After-School Enrichment Program in South Portland. Not surprisingly, some of the children so bonded with her that they remained in touch with her until the time of her death. In the mid-1980s, Linda moved to St. Louis to be with Ted, who was attending chiropractic college. The two returned to Portland and were married in 1985. Sarah’s birth in 1987 added a new chapter to their world and a deeper layer of meaning to their life.
Linda still craved the Maine coast. For a few weeks every summer she returned to Western Bay, to either of the two rustic cottages her family owned. One is at Dayton Point, named for her maternal ancestors; the other is at Russell Cove. Both are peaceful retreats with spectacular views of the mountains of Mount Desert Island. It was here, in a setting Linda found spiritual and even magical, that she felt most at home. Linda did not have to roam the world to find happiness. She found it where she was, in the people she was with.
She also took pleasure in challenges of the hands and the mind: crocheting an afghan for anyone having a baby, gardening, rug-making, oil painting, doing the daily crossword puzzle, playing Scrabble, and reading books of inspiration and fiction. She filled notebook after notebook with favorite quotations she came across, from sources as disparate as Albert Einstein and Pearl Bailey. She was a sharer of things: funny e-mails, encouraging messages, membership in sisterhood groups called the Glo Girls – breast cancer survivors; and Delta J. Linda had a gift for making people feel better. She accepted others as they were. Her smiles and laughter bathed warm light into dark days. Her tears flowed often, from a deep well of gratitude for even the smallest things in life. And so her friends and family will always treasure Linda, the rarest piece of sea glass, one to keep forever.
Linda is survived not only by Ted, Sarah and Pam, but also by her older sister, Audrey Mitchell of Ellsworth; her father and stepmother, Jean, also of Ellsworth; and three nephews and nieces. A memorial was held Dec. 15, 2009 at Woodfords Congregational Church in Portland.
Donations in Linda’s name may be made to PROP’s Foster Grandparents Program, 510 Cumberland Ave., Portland ME 04101 or Hospice of Southern Maine, 180 U.S. Route 1, No. 1, Scarborough ME 04074. To offer words of condolence to the family, sign a guestbook and share memories, go to the obituary page at www.independentdeathcare.com.