NORTH HAVEN – Cecilia Joe-Ann Santee, 79, passed away peacefully and contented, on North Haven Island on Sunday, February 27, 2022. She was surrounded by her children, and on the island that she felt defined her very existence.
Born April 5, 1942 in Camden to Joe and Ann (Dyer) Boyd, her childhood involved she and her family moving from Maine to Tennessee, to Virginia, back to Maine, and then to Pennsylvania as her father served in the military and World War II.
Her childhood was, at times, challenging. However, she maintained an inspired, and whimsical catalog of memories involving farm life, animals, skunks, sleigh rides, pets, leaps of faith from a barn door (with an umbrella), her siblings, her gentle and kind relatives, and most of all, North Haven Maine.
While in college in Marietta Ohio, she met our Dad, Larry Santee, a burly, rough and tumble Ohio born football player. According to Mom, when she witnessed this titan of a man rescue a kitten from a window-well during a snowstorm, their destiny was locked. They were soon married and had the five of us as Mom taught school, and Dad’s career led him into the engineering profession. It was also in Ohio where she met her best friend for life, Elaine Palmer.
From Ohio, Mom and Dad moved to Maryland, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Maine. They continued to create a yellow brick road of friends, and contributions to the community. Those friends and communities remain inspired by her optimistic, creative, energetic, and hard-working commitment to them.
Our home was always filled with other kids. During our annual trips to North Haven, the VW bus was filled with five kids, dogs, cats, hamsters, and cargo. Additionally, there were always cousins or friends in tow, sharing blankets and floor space for the long drives to Maine.
Eventually, Mom lived in a few locations in Florida during her retirement, working as a Recreation Director. While there, she would convince her neighbors to dress as cheerleaders for Superbowl’s, or put on numbers and race around on broomstick horses for the Kentucky Derby.
She held parades with floats, social hours, dog parades, and hat parties just to name a few. She was able to breathe an inclusive life into the communities she moved to, and her energy and enthusiasm was quickly adopted everywhere she went.
When Mom returned to Maine in 2019, she moved to a new residential facility for the elderly called Southern Harbor House. There, Mom could be close to two of her daughters, Tawnia, and Kelly, as well as several of her grandchildren. In addition, she would be surrounded by scores of friends on the island. She loved having access to the beaches, pastures, sweeping views, ponds, and the fauna and flora that was unique to her favorite place on earth.
Being a social and active person, the island was a good fit for her. However, when 2020 brought the Coronavirus pandemic, Mom’s access to places and people became limited due to the risks involving the chronic disease she suffered.
After a period of frustration, Mom shifted her focus, as only she could. She refused to be saddened and a victim of the circumstances. Instead, she turned on another wellspring of her creativity and turned to creating inspiring watercolor paintings to share with her friends and family. All with a meaningful and considerate story. It was a prolific outpouring or creation. For the paintings, she would reach out to friends to research her subject matter. The nuanced stories associated with her subject are evident in the beautiful art she left behind.
In her final days, her room was filled with laughter and song. She was good-humored, and unencumbered by anxiety. She led her siblings and children in song, and told naughty poems via a puppet. She hugged and loved. She said all of her goodbyes, then, quietly, on a Sunday morning, she accepted the invite for which she was waiting for, and joined the love of her life, Larry, on the other side.
Mom left her mark and inspiration on too many places to mention. However, in her family, her mark will ever be evident as she leaves behind; Her siblings, Elizabeth Boyd, Penelope Boyd, Joe Boyd, Margaret Starcher, and Amy Boyd. Her children; Lorie Zelna and son in-law, Al Zelna, Tawnia Santee, Lee Ann Larrimore, Wayne Larrimore, Luke Santee, Nikki Santee, Kelly Adams, and son in-law, Alan Adams. Her grandchildren; Jasmine Santee, Joseph Santee, Austin Larrimore, Chris Freels, Alex Zelna, Easton Adams, Raven Terry, Adrianna Adams, Zach Zelna, and Colby Terry.
She was preceded in death by her herculean, loving husband, Larry Santee, friends, Pat, Dee, Gail, and several beloved pets. All who loved her dearly will never forget her optimism, creativity, wanderlust, tenacity, wit, charm, grace (when pertinent), and undying love and caring for them.
A ‘Celebration of Life’ will be held on North Haven, Saturday, July 23, 2022, (time will be announced at a later date) followed by a reception at Mullens Head Big Beach. It was Mom’s wishes that we share stories, laughs, and songs inspired by a fantastic person and a life well lived.
It was Joe-Ann’s desire for people to give generously to Southern Harbor Eldercare Services, 12 Pulpit Harbor Rd. North Haven, ME 04853 or online at www.southernharborhouse.org/support