Obituary of Bernice Ella Lithgow
Machias- Bernice E. Lithgow was born on December 10, 1960 in Fort Kent, Maine to Bernard and Rinette Charette. The eldest of five daughters, she and her sisters spent countless hours hiking up Charette Hill to their family potato farm, picking strawberries and hazelnuts along the way. These were some of her fondest early childhood memories, with her sisters whom she adored. As she grew older, she had a more difficult youth than some due to childhood scoliosis that required major spinal surgery and a long, difficult recovery away from her family. She was pained by her health problems her entire life, but leaned on her unwavering faith. The challenges she faced in her formative years had a major impact in creating the kind and nurturing outlook she had later on in life. She cherished the friendship of the people who helped her through her recovery, in particular Lisa O’Malley, who became a sweet and dear lifelong friend.
Bernice met her husband Craig Lithgow while she was attending The University of Maine at Machias where she earned a B.A. in Community Health Education and was a member of Kappa Alpha Kappa. She was the first person in her family to graduate from college. Bernice and Craig were married while still in school, on May 26th, 1984 in the Catholic Church by Father John O'Hara. It would have been their 39th wedding anniversary.
After college they lived on Beals Island where they began their family. Their son, Ben was born in 1989, and their daughter Robin was born in 1993. She loved and cherished her children above all else. Once she had children, she began working at Bobbie Mather’s nursery school, and at the Machias Valley Christian School. After her kids were grown, she worked in home health care and assisted living. She loved her clients. Her calling was caring for others.
Bernice absolutely loved being a mom, and her children were the pride and joy of her life. She had the kindest and gentlest parenting style. There was never a raised voice in the house . . . until her son Ben joined his first rock band. Then the yelling never stopped! She went to his shows whenever she could and loved all of his music. She particularly loved listening to him play his saxophone in Jazz concerts. It became one of the very few things she would brag about. She also found great satisfaction in her daughter’s endeavors and had dearly hoped to see Robin complete her studies this year. Bernice was so happy to be able to have so much time with Robin and her kids.
The only thing she might have loved as much as being a mom was being a grandmother to Lewie and Freya. Bernice and Lewie were buddies, and she enjoyed taking him to experience the things in the world that people often take for granted. She took him to feed the ducks, and to the library to read Amelia Bedelia, and to the playground often. She took him to tour his first fire truck, and made sure there were books about fire trucks to read and toys with sirens that sing, and she taught him all about how the postal service works. He wrote and sent his mom a letter with the help of his “Grandma Bean'' and Robin will always cherish the letters she received in the mail from Lewie and his grandmother.
Bernice wanted to include her grandkids in all that she did. They cooked together, created art together, and gardened together. They read countless stories and sang songs to each other and pretended to be cats, meowing the days away. Lewie and Freya adored their Grandma Bernice in return. They always looked forward to the next time they’d see her.
Bernice found joy in small, beautiful moments. She loved to sit and watch the ospreys, the eagles, and the ducks. She particularly enjoyed watching the Cravens’ lambs each spring. She always wanted to bring her grandkids along to see the wild delights of Maine. These simple moments are the kind that Ben and Robin remember so fondly from their childhood. Bernice appreciated everything.
Bernice was a member of the Machias Valley Baptist Church for 26 years. She loved her church family and always helped those in need and visited those who needed company. As she drew near the end, her church donated time and money and food and expressed their love and kindness, for which she and her family are so grateful. She believed that she was destined for a better place where she would find comfort and peace, and see all those she loved.
Bernice passed away peacefully on the evening of May 22nd, 2023 after a long illness. She was surrounded by her family and music. She is survived by her husband Craig Lithgow, son Ben Lithgow and his partner Deanna Burrell, daughter Robin Phipps and her husband Clinton Phipps, grandson Lewie Phipps, and granddaughter Freya Phipps. She was predeceased by her parents Bernard and Rinette Charette. She will be profoundly missed by her sisters and brothers-in-law Janice and Ron Clark, Susan and Don Bouchard, Norma Charette, and Gloria and Jeff Makino, her nieces and nephews Eric Pelletier, Brad Bouchard, Joshua Pelletier, Emma Clark, and Jazmine Bouchard, father and mother-in-law Web and Diane Lithgow, brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, Scott and Babette Lithgow, Laurie Lithgow Riley, Carolyn Lithgow McCloud, Neil and JoAnn Lithgow, Glenn and Jenni Lithgow, and many more nieces, nephews and cousins.
Bernice made many dear friends throughout her life including some of her closest, Lisa O’Malley, Maria Grolimund, Bobbi Mather, Lynn Alcerie, Bonnie Phipps, Sherrie Beal, Janie Carter, Dee Hadfield, Cori Collins, Carlene Lyford, Helen Reynolds, Jennifer Williams, along with the whole Machias Valley Baptist congregation, who all did so much to help. The Lithgow/Charette family are grateful for the support and kindness these wonderful friends have shown.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 8, 2023 at the Machias Valley Baptist Church. Donations may be given in her memory to the Machias Valley Christian School or Sarah’s House of Maine.
In Loving Memory
1960 - 2023
182 Waldo Avenue
Belfast, ME 04915
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