Penny Lehman from our Spring 2010 class passed away before completing the class. Penny had a sudden, unattended heart attack on March 26; she died a week later. Penny was very excited about this class and very dedicated to her writing. She was energetic about it, eager to hear others' ideas and willing to absorb constructive criticism. Her husband told me of her love of writing, and that she was excited about this class and the prospect of getting published. Although her story wasn't finished at the time of her death, I know she had worked up a good first draft, and I hope to include it in An Odd Red Puzzle. At the very least, I will be dedicating that anthology to her. Following is her obituary as it appeared in the Bangor Daily News.
RANGELEY, LOS ANGELES and HAMPDEN - On March 26, 2010, "Penny" Helen Mitchell Lehman, 70, beloved wife of husband Bernie Lehman, suffered a sudden, unwitnessed cardiac arrest and Friday, April 2, 2010, surrounded by her husband, brother and sister-in-law, and superlative, supportive medical staff, passed away at a Bangor hospital. Penny was born June 9, 1939, in Farmington, daughter of the late Geneva and Coleman W. Mitchell and raised in Rangeley. She attended and graduated from Rangeley High School, Class of 1957. She then worked her way through college, attending and graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology, 1962, from the University of Maine, Orono. After graduation Penny was employed as a juvenile probation officer with the state of Connecticut. She was later recruited by the American National Red Cross and assigned as a social worker, service to military hospitals at Valley Forge (Army) General Hospital, Phoenixville, Pa. It was here she did multifaceted professional social work with returning U.S. military Vietnam veterans. Penny met her husband at Valley Forge General Hospital. She married in Phoenixville, Pa., November 1968, was granted transfer to American Red Cross Los Angeles, and relocated to Los Angeles, her husband's home. Penny, a member of the National Association of Social Workers, devoted the majority of her professional career to the American Red Cross. She worked as a social worker for American Red Cross Service to Military Families and Veterans. She was then appointed supervisor, American Red Cross Emergency Services, Valley District, Los Angeles. She spent 28 years with the American Red Cross, assuming other key positions linked with the American Red Cross, such as specialist, Veterans Affairs and then a managerial position as field director, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Upon retirement from the American Red Cross, Penny assumed position with the state of California Department of Aging as regional manager, Long Term Care Ombudsman Program. Penny loved working with geriatric programs and having personal contact with seniors. As Ombudsman, Penny made great strides in accomplishing critically needed betterments in the arena of geriatric assisted living care. Penny proudly respected being the recipient of awards presented to her on occasions in recognition of her contributions and accomplishments to the community from such entities as the city of Los Angeles. After 38 years in Los Angeles, in-spite of heart-felt hardship leaving friends and family behind, Penny wanted to return to her true homeland: the state of Maine. This she did, with her husband in July 2007, settling into a cottage, which she loved at the beautiful active senior citizen campus of Avalon Village, Hampden. Penny met, made and loved many wonderful caring friends at Avalon Village and surrounding areas. Penny was thrilled to be in Maine, and so excited to be close to her new friends, remaining family members and the now adults - former childhood friends associated with her Rangeley life. Penny loved her alma mater, the University of Maine, and renewed her association with the university. She attended activities and classes. She was especially excited to become an honored member of the University of Maine Foundation/Charles G. Allen Society and loved the University of Maine associates she met, especially her new dear friend, Sarah McPartland-Good. Penny also had a gift for writing a touch of poetry and short stories. She was very expressive and was in the process of taking a creative writing class at the Penobscot Senior College, taught by instructor David Fitzpatrick, whom she thought "was just wonderful!" Penny loved to travel around Maine with her husband in her beloved new Trailblazer, showing him about and at the same time, renewing her remembrances of places. She was an outstanding homemaker and cook. She loved to go grocery shopping. Further, she loved to experiment with different recipes and entertain anytime, but especially during the holidays. She loved to play with her different kitchen utensils, dishes, kitchen appliances, linens and laundry appliances. Penny would smell and enjoy her freshly washed, dried and fluffy laundry with the zest of one who might smell the fragrance of a beautiful flower. She loved music, art, gardening, feeding the birds, watching the wildlife and flowers, trees, scenery and listening to the winds blowing through the trees and talking on phone with her family and friends. She ensured there was always a bouquet of flowers in the cottage every week. And simply put, she was especially watchful and over-caring of her husband, and her husband did not complain. Penny was especially happy when family or friends came by to visit. She was extra especially happy when family and friends visited from California. Penny is survived by her husband, stepsister and husband, and cousins and friends in Maine, Florida and New York, and sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law, nieces and nephews, and friends in Los Angeles. Penny's family thanks the EMT's/paramedics and Hamden Police Department officers who responded to Penny's needs at Avalon Village, March 26, 2010, and thereafter Eastern Maine Medical Center emergency room and Cardiac Intensive Care Unit staff for all their outstanding supportive and medical care and concern provided Penny. Also, for their care and concern provided her husband and visiting family members, and for concern and reassurance of support offered by Eastern Maine Medical Center CEO Debbie Johnson, who visited husband, Bernie and patient, Penny, in the Cardiac Care Unit. Finally without question, additional thanks go to Hampden-Gilpatrick Funeral Home representative, Chris Zanardi, who was instrumental in making all necessary arrangements a respectful and painless ordeal. Accordingly, it was Penny's wish to not have a formal funeral. She wished to be buried at Evergreen Cemetery, Rangeley. Because the cemetery grounds are still frozen, the cemetery does not open until the first week of May. Thereafter, a simple graveside service for friends and family will be held 1 p.m. Tuesday, May 11, with the Rev. Judd Pealer, of Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, Rangeley, presiding. Penny would love to have beautiful flowers at graveside, however, in lieu of flowers, she would be pleased with donations to the Helen "Penny" Mitchell Lehman Social Work Fund, University of Maine Foundation, Two Alumni Place, Orono, ME 04469-5792. Arrangements entrusted to Hampden-Gilpatrick Funeral Home, 45 Western Ave., Hampden. Messages of condolence and memories may be shared through www.hampdengilpatrick.com.