2014-02-07 / People

Eleanor Wise Dow

Eleanor Wise Dow, 97, died Monday, Jan. 20, 2014, in her home (known simply as “five-ninety” and enjoyed for almost 60 years) on Highland Avenue in South Portland where she has been lovingly cared for by her daughter, Barbara Dow Nucci.

The family is grateful for the expert and compassionate assistance of VNA Home Health and Hospice of Southern Maine, especially that of CNA Shelley Cochrane, and for the tender, devoted care from Donna Tracy and Elleza Helmen of Home Helpers of Southern Maine.

Eleanor was born May 6, 1916, in Gardiner, to Frank A. and Anna McNally Wise. She was the first child, followed by four siblings: Frank A. Wise, Jr., Marion Wise Colcord, Virginia Wise Cross and Elizabeth Wise Hersom, all of whom predeceased her. The Wise home was a happy gathering place for all their friends, especially on Saturday nights when Anna’s famous baked beans (always Jacob’s Cattle) were served with hot baking powder biscuits. Throughout the years, the Wise siblings, their spouses and children gathered very often for impromptu parties and general hilarity.

As a young girl, Eleanor loved sports, dancing, music and theater. She graduated from Gardiner High School in 1933 and Gorham Normal School in 1935. Her first teaching job at the age of 19 was in the small town of Clinton. She later taught in Gardiner, then in South Portland at the Boys’ Training Center and at Redbank School, where her success at teaching children to read was considered extraordinary. Eleanor retired in 1979 after more than 20 years of teaching.

In 1941 Eleanor married Richard Whitmore Dow of Augusta. They made their first home in Winthrop, Mass., and then returned to Maine after World War II to settle in South Portland, first in Sunset Park and eventually moving to Highland Avenue. Eleanor was a Girl Scout leader and an active communicant of St. Luke’s Cathedral. Two of their three children, Richard W. Dow Jr., and Margaret Dow LaBella, predeceased them, in 1974 and 1995, respectively. In 1976, Eleanor and Dick were among the first volunteers for Hospice of Maine.

Eleanor and Dick were enthusiastic travelers and toured many different countries in the Americas and in Europe, especially Italy (29 times for Eleanor!) to visit their daughter Barbara and her family. They were committed and involved grandparents to six grandchildren: Domenico and Enrico Nucci of Naples, Italy; Andrea Nucci of Geneva, Switzerland; Caroline Eleanor, John Richard, and Michael Charles LaBella, all of Massachusetts. Eleanor is also survived by two great-granddaughters, Valentina and Eleonora Nucci, by a granddaughter-in-law, Cristina Sichel Nucci, all of Geneva, Switzerland, by two sons-in-law, Giovanni Nucci of Naples, Italy, and Charles LaBella of Amesbury, Massachusetts, and by many nieces, nephews, and cousins.

Eleanor was a very social person who loved people and made new friends well into her 10th decade. At 90 and legally blind, she would walk by herself from her home to the corner of Broadway and Evans to join a group for Sunday breakfast. Her enthusiasm for life and any adventures it offered were well known. Eleanor had many interests, among them bridge, golf, reading, gardening, handicrafts and baking sweets. She was renowned for her warm, generous hospitality, and her door was always open to family and friends, old and new. Her listening ear was ever accepting and encouraging. She saw the best in everyone and provided support to all in need.

Eleanor will be deeply missed by many and her example of how to live joyfully will continue to inspire.

When Eleanor’s descendants gather in Maine in summer, there will be a committal service at Brooklawn Memorial Park. As she wished, donations may be made in her memory to VNA Home Health and Hospice of Southern Maine, 50 Foden Road, South Portland, Maine 04106.

Arrangements are under the care of Advantage Funeral Services, 981 Forest Ave., Portland. Please visit www.advantageportland.com to sign Eleanor’s guestbook and to leave condolences for the family.

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