2013-11-22 / Community

Family celebrates with their ‘caretaker’

By Alex Acquisto Staff Writer


Florence Haggett turned 101 on Wednesday, Nov. 13. Haggett, a resident of Huntington Common in Kennebunk, was born in Boothbay Harbor and lived there for nearly 100 years. Haggett and her husband, Gilbert, built a house in Boothbay in 1937 where they lived together until Gilbert died in 1988. Haggett has two sons, five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. (Alex Acquisto photo) Florence Haggett turned 101 on Wednesday, Nov. 13. Haggett, a resident of Huntington Common in Kennebunk, was born in Boothbay Harbor and lived there for nearly 100 years. Haggett and her husband, Gilbert, built a house in Boothbay in 1937 where they lived together until Gilbert died in 1988. Haggett has two sons, five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. (Alex Acquisto photo) KENNEBUNK – Few people can tout living to be 100, and even fewer, 101.

When asked what was her most memorable birthday, Florence Haggett, a resident of Huntington Common whose 101st birthday was Wednesday, Nov. 13, said, “Probably when I turned, 100, because there were about 100 people there. When you get to be as old as I am, you can’t really remember things (birthdays) like that.”

Haggett was sitting in the front pew at the Congregational Church of Wells. Noise from her birthday lunch, which purposely coincided with the church’s weekly charitable “Soup’s On” lunch, could be heard from the next room. Haggett’s two sons, Courtney and Richard Haggett, were present with their wives, Anne and Jeanette.

Haggett was born in Boothbay Harbor on Nov. 13, 1912 and she lived there until Dec. 14, 2012, at which time she moved to Huntington Common. She recalled what it was like to grow up in the coastal town with four siblings.

“We lived on a farm . . . we had a lot of animals, a herd of cows. I was a tomboy,” Haggett said, recalling how she and her siblings were almost always outside climbing on hay bales. Once she and her brothers came upon a hole where one of her brothers stuck his head in and he was greeted by a skunk, who sprayed him in the face.

“I spent the whole winter (ice) skating,” Haggett said, adding that she sometimes even skipped school to skate.

As an adult, Haggett worked as bookkeeper for a number of businesses, namely for Harbor Motors in Boothbay, owned by her brother Arthur Barlow.

Haggett’s family attended church regularly, and she recalls singing a lot. As an adult, Haggett started teaching Sunday school. “I started teaching before Courtney was born and was still teaching when you got out of college,” said Haggett.

She attended the same church for 96 years.

“How does that make you feel?” Richard Haggett asked his younger brother, Courtney. Courtney laughed. “Old,” he said.

Haggett’s husband, Gilbert, built the house where they would raise their family and live from 1937 until 1988, when Gilbert died.

“Gilbert was a wonderful man,” said Haggett, who has five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

“We were an active family,” Courtney said. “She (Haggett) stayed young because she always took care of everyone. We call her the consummate caretaker,” he said.

Courtney recalled once, in his youth on a Sunday morning before church, he approached his mother and told her he was not going to attend church that morning. “She didn’t respond to what I’d said, all she said was, ‘We’ll be leaving at a quarter to 10.’”

At Huntington Common, Haggett likes to arrange flowers, lend a hand where she can, walk, attend music programs and attend chapel daily, said Anne, Haggett’s daughter-in-law.

Even though Courtney and Anne live in Kennebunk and Richard and Jeanette live in Wells, both couples find the time to volunteer weekly at Soup’s On.

Haggett attends the Wednesday meals because she enjoys the socialization and because she gets to see her sons. Anne has been volunteering at Soup’s On since its inception nine years ago.

The weekly gathering provides a hot meal to 85 to 100 people every Wednesday, most of whom are elderly. “For some of them, this is the only socialization they get all week,” said Carol Marc-Aurele, who has been volunteering every week with her friend, Judy Ryan, for nine years.

The effort to purchase the food and prepare it requires approximately 20 to 25 volunteers.

If the weekly lunch falls on a holiday, the volunteers will incorporate the theme into the meal.

This year, even though Halloween fell on a Thursday, volunteers fit the meal to the theme. The volunteers dressed in costume and so did many who patronize the meal, including Haggett, who dressed as a witch and danced around, wagging her wand and putting spells on people, said Anne Haggett.

“One of them said, ‘Hey, what about my birthday,’” said Marc-Aurele. “I said, ‘When you turn 100, that’s when we’ll have a cake.’” She and Ryan guffawed.

Haggett, like many of the Soup’s On patrons, likes to come because it gives her a chance to be around people she loves.

“I just love visiting my sons,” Haggett said. “That’s the best thing for me now. I don’t know what will come of me next. They look right out for me.”

Before Haggett left to attend a second birthday party at Huntington Common, she reminisced about her oceanfront home in Boothbay, which is still owned by the family. “It would be so nice to go back and live there, but that’s ridiculous. Sometimes when you get this old, you get crazy ideas.”

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