Alice Melanie Gifford, of Newcastle, died peacefully on May 19 at Harbor View Cottage, in the loving company of her three daughters.
Alice was born on Feb. 20, 1925 in Montreal, Canada. After completing her B.A. in English literature at McGill University in 1947, Alice pursued graduate study in English literature at Brown University in Providence, R.I.
At Brown, Alice met Nathaniel Harrison (Hal) Gifford and they married in 1949. Alice and Hal spent 24 years teaching French in Connecticut and Massachusetts while raising three daughters. On several occasions, the family lived abroad for exchange teaching and study in Belgium and France. The family spent nearly every summer in Maine based at their camp in South Bristol and sailing the Viking, a wooden Friendship sloop re-rigged as a yawl, and later the Guillemot.
In 1976, Alice and Hal left teaching and moved to Maine year-round, where they opened Kennebec Books, an independent bookstore. For 20 years, the store was an anchor in Augusta, stocking books on many topics, with specialties in Maine and local history and children’s literature, as well as strategy games. Longtime customers still remember the warm ambiance of a store with pet cats and rabbits and thoughtful conversation.
Alice had been writing poetry for many years, and after closing the bookstore she became an active participant in the poetry community of Maine. Her work received awards and was published in anthologies and in journals (from Off the Coast to the Annals of Internal Medicine). In 2015, she published a volume of her poetry, Sailing for Home.
In 2014, Alice moved to the Lincoln Home in Newcastle, on the Damariscotta River where she and Hal had often sailed. In spite of her late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, Alice remained active, animated, and adventurous into her 90s. Her wit, intelligence, and optimism endeared her to residents and staff alike in the Lincoln Home community.
Alice was predeceased by her husband Hal in 1998.
She is survived by daughters and their spouses, E. Melanie Gifford of College Park, Md., Linda S. Gifford and Stephen A. Cole of Damariscotta, and Charlotte E. Gifford and Daniel G. Axtell of Westminster West, Vt.; and grandchildren, Lydia and Timothy Bedford, Phoebe and Eliza Cole, and Abigail and R. Benett Axtell.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m., Thurs., June 29 at the Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Augusta.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee; the Planned Parenthood Federation of America; or The Lincoln Home.
Condolences may be sent to the family via www.directcremationofmaine.com.
Services were entrusted to Direct Cremation of Maine, Belfast.