We could all learn from this person......

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We could all learn from this person......

Post by 911Dispatcher on Mon Jan 12, 2009 4:32 pm

For those who grew up in the area or had children attending schools I am sure you have at one time visited the Norlands. However I doubt any of you have ever gotten the chance to meet the true heart and soul behind the place. Billie was a very amazing woman with a heart and soul for history. Even in her old age she still preformed as a character role on the farm. Billie became a huge part of my family and was very close to both me and my sister. She took us in like we were her grandchildren. I just wanted everyone in the area to realize the next time they visit either for an open house or a school tour that the true spirit of this place comes from this womans hands and heart. Her family has requested in Lieu of Flowers, donations may be made in Billie's memory to Good Sheppard Food Bank, 3121 Hotel Road, Auburn, ME 04210 or The Salvation Army, Northern New England Divisional Headquarters, P.O. Box 3647, Portland, ME 04104


Norlands museum founder dies at 92


By Donna M. Perry
Staff Writer

Monday, January 12, 2009





LIVERMORE
- A woman remembered for her energy, determination, love of history and
vision to make Washburn-Norlands Living History Center in Livermore a
national treasure died Sunday.

Ethel "Billie" Wilson Gammon of
Livermore was 92. She died of complications from chronic obstruction
pulmonary disease at 11:30 a.m. at home with her family, her son,
Michael Gammon said.

She had had pneumonia four times since May, he said.

Her intense love of history went beyond founding Norlands.

She
worked to make Maine's museums and historical societies become more
professional and to get the recognition and funding they deserved.

"I
think museums and historical societies are much better off because of
work of Billie," said Erik Jorgensen, executive director of Maine
Humanities Council. "She really had a great vision for how the story of
Maine should be told. The biggest tribute to her was Norlands. That was
right out of her head."

The council recognized her Norlands work
with the Constance Carlson Award, given to people who make
extraordinary contributions to humanities in Maine.

Gammon was
also inducted into the Maine Women's Hall of Fame in 1997. That award
recognizes a woman's achievements that have a significant statewide
impact, significantly improved the lives of women in Maine, and has
enduring value for women.

Gammon's love of the Washburn family,
its history and the development of Norlands began in 1954. It was then
she started cleaning - at the request of a Washburn descendant - the
family library, which was in major disrepair.

In a 2004
interview with the Sun Journal, Gammon said she remembered unlocking
the library door and only being able to step inside about three steps.
There was a mountain of papers, birds flying around and plaster falling
from the ceiling.

She could remember asking herself, "Where am I
going to begin? I was standing there hopeless and helpless and I bent
over and picked the first thing at my feet."
It was a pamphlet about the library's dedication in 1885.

Gammon's "love and devotion" for the place had her at times sleeping at Norlands to watch over it.

"I kept reading, studying and cleaning and I kept dreaming of what I could do," Gammon said then.

Gammon,
a self-proclaimed lover of people "living or dead," became an advocate
for preservation of the memory of the Washburns, a family that hailed
from Livermore and left a mark on the country during the anti-slavery
movement.

She wanted to make history come alive.

She
wrote and received many grants to keep her dream alive of sharing
history and educating youngsters and renovating and preserving the 19th
century Washburn mansion, church, library, schoolhouse and other
properties.

She was always quick to say that she didn't do it alone; it was a community effort.

"She
was a woman of vision. She not only knew how to organize volunteers but
she was not afraid to work herself," said friend Norma Boothby of
Livermore. She volunteered along side of Gammon for years.

"Billie
was enthusiastic. She was dynamic. She was creative. She was a
visionary. She could inspire enthusiasm in others," Boothby said. "She
could draw volunteers like a magnet. She had that ability. She had a
personality that involved you. Before you knew it, you found yourself
catching her enthusiasm."

Jerome Nadelhaft of New York, a
retired University of Maine History Department professor in Orono,
worked with Gammon on the northern New England humanities annual
conference. In 2008, Gammon set up the 15th annual conference in
Livermore.

Every year, no matter how old she was, she always had the energy and enthusiasm to set up the conference, he said.

"She
was a wonderful, wonderful woman who did so much for Washburn-Norlands
center," said Dorothy Schwartz, retired executive director of the Maine
Humanties Council.

"Billie was committed to teaching children
and adults about Norlands," Schwartz said. "She was very single-minded
in her determination to make Washburn-Norlands Living History Center an
important center for education in the history of that whole part of
Maine. She was really sort of a living monument of how a single person
in a community can make a real difference."

A funeral service for her is planned for is Thursday, Jan. 15, at the North Livermore Baptist Church.

Visiting hours are 2 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 14, at Finley's Funeral Home in Livermore Falls

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Re: We could all learn from this person......

Post by Vigs on Mon Jan 12, 2009 4:57 pm

good bless her

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My favorite picture of her with Museum in background

Post by 911Dispatcher on Mon Jan 12, 2009 5:14 pm


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Re: We could all learn from this person......

Post by C on Mon Jan 12, 2009 5:53 pm

It is always sad to lose someone so dedicated to enriching the lives of others. I have never visited Norlands. I wonder if it has changed much since the fire.

C
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Re: We could all learn from this person......

Post by 911Dispatcher on Mon Jan 12, 2009 6:08 pm

It has but they are preparing to do an old fashioned barn raising, they have received donations and most of it was covered by insurance. They are doing some research on blue prints to insure it will meet original construction from the time period. A lot of the animals are currently residing at my brother in laws farm.

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Re: We could all learn from this person......

Post by xmashen on Mon Jan 12, 2009 7:25 pm

wow. that is so great to know!

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