Esther (Baldwin) Swift was ‘Aunt Esther’ to virtually everyone she knew, including her 37 nieces and nephews, all of the young people she fostered in Girl Scouts---and even the waitresses at Nobleboro’s ‘Reunion Station’, Esther’s favorite restaurant.
For nearly 90 years, Esther set the moral bar for her extended family and established expectations for using one’s potential. “She was 10 years older than me so she was my second Mom,” sister Jean (Baldwin) Beaulieu tells. “Growing up on Damariscotta Lake, she would whistle when dinner was ready-- --and you knew you had better come running. She really was the matriarch of our family.”
Her involvement in her family’s life was not from the sidelines. Frequent trips were made between Maine and Connecticut as siblings, and then nieces and nephews, traveled to stay with ‘Aunt Es’ for weeks at a time. Niece Laurie (Baldwin) Murphy also remembers Esther chaperoning a school trip to Germany. Playing hide & seek with Esther’s dog Snip is a memory treasured by nephew Brent Baldwin.
“I'm imagining her back in her log home, sitting at the kitchen table, talking to (her dog) Snip.” This was niece Brooke Baldwin’s favorite recollection of Aunt Esther. Husband Vernon Swift and Esther moved from Branford, CT to Nobleboro in 1975 to build their dream home on East Pond Rd, a log home that became the meeting place for coffee, Saturday night suppers, wood-splitting parties and many a quilt-athon.
Quilting and sewing were passions that Esther pursued throughout her life. In her 70s, Esther gathered quilt squares created by her mother Ruth (Hildebrandt) Baldwin and grandmother Sarah (Potter) Baldwin and designed quilts for every niece and nephew as a lasting connection to their Baldwin heritage. For many years, when each of these nieces and nephews were married, they also received a quilt composed of 12 squares, each representing the 12 Baldwin siblings.
Damariscotta Lake was her birthplace and her solace. Swimming was an essential skill for every family member and Esther oversaw many a lesson. Her greatest joy was catching up with every single family member at annual July 4, Labor Day and Thanksgiving gatherings, all at or near the lake.
Esther’s impact on Lincoln County will be felt for generations to come. Lincoln Academy and Nobleboro schools were the foundation of her formal education. As a nurse’s aide, she tended to many residents in the early years of Miles Hospital---and continued caring for the elderly, assisting with births and guiding new parents with the transition to parenthood, all throughout her life. At ‘Daybreak’, one of the historic homes in Wiscasset, Esther tended to the daily cleaning, cooking and operations. As treasurer and lifelong member of the Nobleboro First Baptist Church, she organized many a fundraiser, prayer circle, wedding and Sunday School class. At North Nobleboro Days, she could be found helping to raise funds for the North Nobleboro Community Center.
Esther Elizabeth Baldwin Swift was born July 21, 1928 at her family’s home on Damariscotta Lake in Nobleboro, the fourth of twelve children and the daughter of Earl H Baldwin Sr. and Ruth Hildebrandt Baldwin. She married her life partner, Vernon Swift, on March 16, 1951. When she passed away on June 7, she was 6 weeks shy of her 90th birthday, an accomplishment that demonstrates her perseverance when faced with numerous health issues---and is also a testament to the support provided by an enormous extended family who cherished her.
Carrying on Esther’s legacy are her sisters Mildred Stafford of Arrowsic and Jean Beaulieu of Nobleboro as well as her brothers Paul Baldwin and Robert Baldwin of Nobleboro and Douglas Baldwin of Woolwich. In addition to her Baldwin and Swift nieces and nephews, she is also survived by her lifelong friends Fred Rowland and Helen Pietila.
She was predeceased by her husband, Vernon Swift, infant daughter Verna Lucy, parents Earl and Ruth (Hildebrandt) Baldwin, close friend Myrtle Rowland and siblings Earl Jr., Marjorie, Raymond, Dorothy, Lester and Donald.
On Saturday, June 23, from 5 to 7 p.m., visiting hours will be held at Hall’s Funeral Home in Waldoboro. On Sunday, June 24, at 2 pm, Esther’s life will be joyously celebrated at the Nobleboro First Baptist Church.
In lieu of flowers, Esther’s family has suggested contributions to the Nobleboro First Baptist Church, P.O. Box 35, Nobleboro, ME 04555.
Arrangements are entrusted to Hall Funeral Home and Tribute Center, 949 Main Street, Waldoboro. Condolences can be shared with the family at www.hallfuneralhomes.com