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Phippsburg - Mary Ellen (Remeschatis) Cummings, 83, died on May 12 at Mid Coast Hospital after a brief illness and over twenty years of courageous living with chronic healthconditions and physical disability. At her death, she was surrounded with the love of her children and grandchildren.
Mary Ellen was born in Brooklyn, NY on July 16, 1939 to Ralph and Ellen (Slocum) Remeschatis. Her family also lived in New Jersey and Massachusetts before settling in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, where Mary Ellen graduated from Lincoln High School in 1957.
Mary Ellen attended Massachusetts General Hospital’s School of Nursing, where she graduated in 1960. While there, she became friends with Virginia Blaisdell. It was at Virginia’s 1961 wedding when she met Virginia’s cousin Robert (Bob) Cummings.
Mary Ellen and Bob married in 1962 and settled in Phippsburg in a home on Drummore Bay. After having three children from 1963 to 1967, Mary Ellen was elected tax collector and treasurer for the Town of Phippsburg in 1970. Though formal hours at the Town Office were limited in this part-time job, Mary Ellen was always available to the people of Phippsburg for fishing and hunting licenses and vehicle registrations. Her home office – the dining room table purchased for a few dollars at a local auction – was always busy.
Though she did not work formally as a nurse for many years, Mary Ellen maintained her nursing license until 2018. Being a nurse was central to Mary Ellen’s character; it was an accomplishment she was proud of and it was a way of life. In the 1980s Mary Ellen returned part-time to nursing, working for Dr. Charles Burden and serving as school nurse for Hyde School in Bath. Mary Ellen was an inspiration and a support for her granddaughter, Catie (Cummings) Bennett, who became a nurse.
Mary Ellen spent many years visiting Hermit Island Campground in Phippsburg each summer, where she could both enjoy the beach and continue to keep her office hours for the town. She also loved visiting South Branch Pond at Baxter State Park. When at home, she loved to follow the seasons in flowers, marking time from daffodils to lilacs, lupines, day lilies, and autumn leaves.
Active in the Democratic Party, Mary Ellen paid close attention to politics and regularly attended Phippsburg town meetings and state party conventions. However, she was never partisan when it came to the people of Phippsburg; everyone who came to her door was treated with respect and interest.
In 2000, Mary Ellen was hospitalized with a serious illness. Within a few years, she returned to work as a Unit Secretary at Maine Medical Center in Portland on the same floor (R3) where she had been a patient. In 2005 Mary Ellen retired from this position in order to visit the western national parks and Alaska with Bob and his sisters Carolyn Kennard and Margery Towne.
After retiring from Maine Medical Center, Mary Ellen continued to serve others, volunteering at Maine Medical Center, preparing free income tax returns for others through the Tax-Aide program and serving as treasurer of the Cosmopolitan Club of Bath. She was also very active in the Phippsburg Congregational Church community and treasured being part of the bell choir. Mary Ellen also enjoyed digitizing and organizing the family's music and photo files.
Mary Ellen kept a vegetable garden for many years and loved fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, and green beans. She shared her dilly bean recipe with community cookbooks and relied upon piccalilli and zucchini bread recipes she had received from others. Her annual cranberry nut bread production became a staple of the family’s Christmas celebration.
Mary Ellen Cummings was predeceased by her husband Bob in 2016. She is survived by three children, Brenda Cummings and her spouse Tim Richter and Stephen Cummings and partner Darla Coy, both of Bath and Charli Cummings of Phippsburg. Charli has been Mary Ellen’s primary caretaker for the past several years.
Mary Ellen’s grandchildren are Jonathan Cummings of California, Nicole Cummings and wife Savannah of Westbrook, Catie Bennett and husband John of Dexter, Derek Cummings and wife Emily of Michigan, Alex Cummings of Texas, Christian Cummings of Phippsburg, and Matthew Cummings of Cornish. She is also survived by two great grandchildren, Aurora and Adalynn Bennett of Dexter. Mary Ellen’s brother Rick and his wife Linda Remeschatis live in Madison, Wisconsin. Mary Ellen is survived by two nieces, Wendy Kellemen and Carla Remeschatis.
A celebration of the life of Mary Ellen Cummings will be held on Saturday, June 3 at 2 pm at the Phippsburg Congregational Church. Mary Ellen and Bob Cummings will be interred together at the Morningside Cemetery in Phippsburg at a later date.
Contributions in her memory may be made to the Social Justice Fund of the Phippsburg Congregational Church (UCC) or the Town of Phippsburg’s Good Will fund.
Town of Phippsburg Goodwill Fund
1042 Main Road, Phippsburg ME 04562