Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Lorena Bell Fuller


My Nana, Rena Fuller, was a very kind lady who lived a hard life.  Born in Bangor in 1917 to Arthur Fuller & Lorena Murch, she lived in Portland most of her life.  In high school she enjoyed being a member of the Glee Club, and her senior quote in the yearbook was quite telling of her personality: 

"Dare to do your duty always".

At PHS, she met my grandfather, Thomas Edward Leonard, with whom she was a member of the Glee Club.  Upon her graduation, in May of 1936, they went to Portsmouth for a quick and easy marriage (Nana was already two months pregnant with my father).  Tom fibbed on the marriage record and claimed to be 21, when he was actually 19. 

Below is a photo of Nana with her mother Lorena, and her brother Harold (and his first wife Virginia), around 1934, just prior to Nana's marriage to Tom.


My grandparents' marriage was short-lived (not even 3 years).  They lived at 21 Spruce Street, then 94 State Street, where Tom ran a ham radio operation out of his house.  Nana filed for divorce based on desertion in March of 1939, and Tom joined the Navy, remarrying to another classmate Barbara Connell in 1942.  Several years after the divorce, in fact, just after Charlotte's graduation from high school in 1956, Nana stopped the car with all three kids inside, right on Tookey's Bridge overlooking Back Cove in Portland, took off her wedding ring, and threw it over the side.  My father was angry as he had his eye on that ring for a potential future bride of his own.

Nana worked as a secretary at Hannaford in their South Portland offices, back when Hannaford was a distribution company and before they bought out the Shop N Save grocery store chain.  She kept her married name all her life.  She raised her three kids (Thomas, Honey & Charlotte-named after her lifetime best friend Charlotte Hall) on Presumpscot Street in Portland, then later moved to Neal Street when the kids were grown up.  Her mother Lorena moved in with her after her Nana's father Arthur passed in 1940.  Nana lived with her and took care of her for 50 years, until Lorena died in 1990 of dementia.  Nana died four years later in a nursing home on Baxter Boulevard in Portland.  She had caught pneumonia (possibly from her daughter Honey visiting her in the nursing home), but also also of a pulmonary blockage caused by choking on her lunch, while strapped to a chair in the hallway.  A very sad ending to a life filled with sacrifice.  RIP Nana, you were cherished by your children and grandchildren for your lively and loving personality and sense of humor.  I can still smell her perfume, and hear her say "Jeekers!"

(ABOUT 1950)

Here's a picture of Nana holding me!

Below is the gravesite of Nana:

Below is her pedigree chart.  She was 6% German (through her 2nd Great Grandfather, Daniel Hollien), about 12% Scottish (accumulated royal blood through ancestors Mary Bean, John Jameson, and Jane Bell), less than 2% French (through the Sibley line) and the remainder 82% was English colonial.  Her ancestor Benjamin Burrill was a descendant of Mayflower passengers John Alden, Rebecca Mullins, William Mullins & Alice Atwood. Her ancestor John Fuller was a descendant of Mayflower passengers Edward Fuller and his wife.  Her ancestor Celia Cook was a descendant of Mayflower passengers Francis Cooke, Stephen Hopkins, Elizabeth Fisher and Constance Hopkins.  That's ten Mayflower passengers total for Nana.  Additionally, her ancestor, Susannah Martin, was hanged in the Salem Witch Trials, and accused by Ann Putnam, granddaughter to Thomas Putnam, yet another ancestor of Nana.  Finally, her ancestor John Jameson descended from the renowned Jameson Clan of Scotland, who fought in the Revolution and were among the first settlers of the early Maine towns of Cape Elizabeth, Rockland and Friendship.  This line also connects her to the Leonard Forge of Raynham Massachusetts, family of which are the ancestors of Celia Cook shown below.

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