Sarah J. Kaler, 78, of Bremen, passed on Jan. 16 at The Sussman House in Rockport after a lengthy illness.
Sarah was born on Jan. 13, 1940 in Unity to Cleo H. Shorey and Charles F. Bennett.
Sarah attended schools in Temple and Farmington. She attended a one-room schoolhouse in Temple and was taught by her step-mother, Marion Bennett. Sarah attended Farmington High School and graduated in 1958. After graduating from Farmington, Sarah attended the Maine Medical Center Nursing School in Portland.
Sarah met the love of her life, Howard A. Kaler, through her nursing school roommate. On Aug. 28, 1959 they exchanged vows at the Old German Church in Waldoboro. Sarah and Howard would exchange wedding vows at the church once again on their 50th wedding anniversary. They were married 59 years. As newlyweds the couple first lived in Waldoboro before settling down in Bremen where they raised four daughters, Bethany, Tracy, Maryanne and Cynthia (“Amy”).
Sarah developed a passion for her Bremen community and became involved in numerous community organizations and causes that enriched the lives of many residents and brought endless joy and meaning to her life. While raising her family Sarah worked side by side with her husband as a stern man on the family lobster boat.
Sarah still found time to be an active member in the Bremen Civic Club, president of Bremen Patriotic Club, Bremen Historical Society and many others. She was also known as a volunteer and organizer of many a town supper for the Bremen Fire Department. It was Sarah’s devotion to her community that led her to discover her leadership skills and Sarah made Bremen town history when she campaigned and ran for the office of first selectman. Sarah was the first woman whoever ran for and held the office.
Sarah often brought her young children along on the first campaign as she collected signatures and met with the community discussing the issues. Sarah was undaunted by those who told her a woman had never held office before and went on to serve as first selectman of Bremen for more than a decade. Sarah excelled as a selectman and had the ability to bring people together to work for a common goal which was the good of the town and its community.
Sarah’s favorite responsibility as selectman was preparing the town report book in which she combined her responsibility with a fierce love of history by publishing rare town of Bremen historical documents in its pages that Sarah found wedged behind a drawer of an old desk. These documents dated back to the incorporation of the town of Bremen and had never been seen before. This “Bremen” edition of the annual town report was later recognized at a state gathering of selectmen Sarah attended in Augusta. She continued the tradition of printing town historical documents and photos in each annual report while in office.
Sarah also served as first selectman until declining health forced her not to seek re-election. When asked Sarah said she preferred to resign from public office before illness compromised the quality of her work. Once retired from office of selectman she fully devoted her time to family.
Sarah was known for her compassion and bringing out the best in people in any situation. In the early years Sarah continued volunteering for Miles Memorial by working the annual rummage sale, and knitting blankets and hats for babies born at the hospital. Sarah continued serving Miles Memorial Hospital as a member of the staff as switchboard operator and an admitting clerk in the emergency room. Sarah came in contact with many members of the community and helped them at their time of need.
Sarah had also worked as a bookkeeper and teller and worked for Lincoln Home in Newcastle.
Sarah was involved in many quilting clubs, enjoyed visiting as much as the quilting. She spent hours designing needlepoint and cross stitch, as well as knitting sweaters and socks for her children. Sarah would channel her creativity into producing a specialized pattern for each child making unique and cherished gifts for baby showers, birthdays and holidays.
Sarah wrote a newspaper column for a local paper for many years called “What’s Cooking with Sarah Kaler”. She combined her love of cooking with a knack for writing and sharing recipes, kitchen tips, and news of her family. Sarah went on to also write several children’s stories for her grandchildren and a family member helped her illustrate the stories and put them in book format. Sarah donated a complete set of these books to the Bremen Library.
Sarah was passionate about writing and in an age before email she belonged to numerous pen pal clubs and organizations writing to people around the world and forging lifelong friendships with many pen pals. Sarah travelled to pen pal conventions in the U.S. and England meeting these friends, 1996 Vermont, 2002 Pennsylvania and England in 2000.
Sarah enjoyed travelling to visit family and friends across the U.S. as well as trips to locations she had read about such as Anne of Green Gables house in Prince Edward Island and Canada. Sarah enjoyed weekend trips with her husband to Monhegan Island, Campobello Island and areas across the state of Maine. One of her favorite trips was a cruise Sarah and Howard took to the Bahamas. Sarah enjoyed viewing the tropical gardens and taking in the sights.
Sarah was always up for a quick visit and a cup of tea, share a story and a game of cards.
The loss of Sarah has left a hole in the hearts of her family. There was never a more devoted wife or mother. She gave tirelessly of herself, loved fiercely, and gave reassurance often. One never doubted that as a mother she would always drop what she was doing to make herself available and come when needed. Sarah is a constant in lives of her family and her community. She generously gave all of herself to others.
Sarah was predeceased by her mother, Cleo H. Shorey Graham; step-father, Wayne Graham; father, Charles F. Bennett; step-mother, Marion Bennett; infant brother, Charles F. Bennett Jr.; brother, Clyde Bennett and daughter Bethany Kaler Smith.
Sarah is survived by her husband, Howard A. Kaler of Bremen; daughters, Tracy Kaler, Cynthia “Amy” Kaler and husband Brian Aragon and family of Rock Springs, Wyo., and Mary Anne Kaler Griffin and husband Kevin Griffin and family; sisters, Francena Bennett of Bremen and life partner David Mank, and Maxine Watson and family of Whitefield; brother, John Robert and wife Carol of Lewiston; grandchildren, Corey Pottle and Nikolas Griffin of Bremen, Joshua Smith, Jason Smith and JamieLynn Smith of Maine, and Emmaleigh Kaler-Matlock and Zakhary Kaler-Matlock of Rock Springs, Wyo.; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Cremation has taken place. Per her wishes, a funeral service will be in the spring and interment at the Old German Church in Waldoboro in the Kaler Family plot.
Condolences for the family may be shared at www.hallfuneralhomes.com.
Arrangements are entrusted to Hall Funeral Home and Cremation Service, 949 Main St., Waldoboro.