Theresa Skaling (Fortin) Ketchum, 77
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FALMOUTH -- Theresa Skaling (Fortin) Ketchum died peacefully at her home in Falmouth on Jan. 25, 2013 after an 11 month illness, surrounded by her loving family. She was 77 years old. She was born on FeB. 18, 1935 in Bath, Maine to Wilfred Skaling and Ann Marie Collins. She attended Brunswick High School where she was an honor student and a member of the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) and was active in the dramatic club, debating club and many other activities. Theresa was then accepted into the School of Nursing at Mercy Hospital in Portland. On July 4, 1954 she married Richard (Sonny) Fortin at St. Charles Church in Brunswick. Married for 23 years, Theresa and Richard had six children together. She also worked alongside Sonny in the family business, Fortin's Furniture and Appliance in Brunswick. She attended St. John the Baptist church and served on the Parish Council, as well as teaching High School CCD. In 1967 she was appointed to the Brunswick Housing Authority and served on the Brunswick School Board from 1973 through 1982. In addition Theresa was a representative to the Maine Vocational Region 10 Board of Directors from 1974 through 1982. She also wrote under the pen name of Ann Collins for the Church World for many years.
At the age of 42 Theresa decided to return to school to complete her college degree. She was a Phi Beta Kappa at Bowdoin College and graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts in 1980 after completing four years of academic requirements in three years. She was a James Bowdoin Scholar for two years, a recipient of the Stanley Plummer Prize for English and a commencement speaker.
Following her graduation from Bowdoin, Theresa attended the University of Maine School of Law where she received her J.D. in 1983. She worked as a law clerk and following graduation as an associate, at the firm of Mittel & Hefferan from 1981 through 1984. She was then appointed as an assistant attorney general where she worked as general counsel for 15 regulatory agencies, as well as the Commissioner of Business Regulation. From 1985 through 1986 Theresa was appointed a Special Assistant Attorney General where she served as general counsel to seven medically related State regulatory agencies. In 1985 she joined the firm of Walker, Bradford, Hull & Labrique where she worked until 1989. Then, entering private practice, Theresa served as a court appointed guardian ad litem for minors in the Department of Human Services. Between 1995 and 2000 she was as a Trustee for Bigelow Labs for Ocean Science.
Theresa served on the Southern Maine Medical Center Visiting Nurses Board from 1998 through 2001 and the SMMC Board from 2002 to 2006. She served as a legal advisor at the University of New England on their board of trustees from 1993 through 2001, of which her husband Jack S. Ketchum had served as President and Chairman of the Board for many years. In addition she was an adjunct professor at UNE in 1993 where she taught a course in medical ethics, and was guest lecturer in the area of access to mental health care.
In 1985 Theresa married Jack Ketchum and moved to his home of 26 years at Bonnie View Farm in Kennebunk. Here she worked alongside Jack tending the flower and vegetable gardens, as well as his beloved dog Wheat, a flock of 100 sheep, and two llamas and chickens for a time. There they often welcomed their combined family of ten children and 18 grandchildren. During their years together Theresa and Jack enjoyed traveling, entertaining, gardening, and sharing their love of wine and food. Together they shared a commitment to serving the community through their work in the areas of education, medicine and nature conservancy.
In 2006 Theresa moved to Falmouth to be closer to her children and grandchildren. Shortly thereafter she lost Jack, her husband and companion of 21 years. In Falmouth she settled comfortably with her constant companions, two Siamese cats by the names of Theodore and Winston. A devoted Catholic and
deeply spiritual person, her faith called upon her again to serve God and she became an active member of Holy Martyrs' Catholic Church. Theresa was a
Eucharistic Minister and through 2005 and 2006 was a facilitator for the diocesan process of realigning the parishes of Wells, Kennebunk, Sanford and Limerick. She was a member of the parish council, became its chairperson and later participated actively in the committees that developed the Parish of the Holy Eucharist.
In the spring of 2010, Theresa traveled to Belgium to the American College, a seminary in Leuven. There she participated in instruction of the painting or 'writing' of an Icon which took nearly 90 hours to complete. So began a spiritual and philanthropic relationship with the college, its rector and the seminarians there which led to her appointment to its Board of Directors.
Theresa cherished all that was beautiful in life - faith, music, art, fashion, nature and the smiles of her grandchildren. She was an accomplished seamstress and created many home decorative items along with wedding and baptismal gowns for her children and grandchildren. She also loved to decorate and imbued her home with a style and warmth that was uniquely her own. A life-long learner and avid reader, she cultivated and satisfied her insatiable curiosity about the world through books. It was rare to see her without a book, kindle, newspaper or magazine of some kind. This is a cherished legacy she has passed on to her children and grandchildren. Theresa's gift of choice was always a book personalized to the recipient. As a grandmother, she showed a sincere interest in the accomplishments and dreams of her grandchildren and was their biggest cheerleader.
She enjoyed long walks on the beach, particularly at Popham Beach where she had spent summers as a child at the family cottage. Every summer for the past ten years she returned to Popham where she shared a week with her children and grandchildren. She was a kind, loving and supportive mother, an active listener and abundantly generous with her time, her wisdom and her talents. She had a beautiful mind and soul and gave of them freely.
Theresa is survived by five daughters and one son, Anne and Jim Reilly and their children Meghan and Isabelle of Acton, Mass.; Michele and Craig Baranowski and their children Olivia and Juliana of Falmouth, Debra and Roy Knight and their children Rachael and William (and his son Ryan and wife Trish) of South Harpswell; Simone and Lorian Lachance of Brunswick and their children Jason (and wife Christine) of Topsham and Julie Anne of Carrabasset; Nicole and Scott Farrell and their children Alta and Gabrielle of Falmouth; Richard and Julie Fortin of Brunswick; and one great-grandchild, Lily Simone, daughter of Jason and Christine.
Theresa is also survived by Jack's family - John Ketchum and Adrienne Dion and their children Audrey and Michael of Brookside, NJ; Bruce Ketchum and Catherine Fogler and her son, Tommy of Brunswick; Peter and Nancy Ketchum and their children Frank and Adam of Alpharetta, Ga.; and Caroline Ketchum and Peter Benbenik and their children Samuel and Katherine of Lancaster, Mass. She is also survived by 19 nieces and nephews. Theresa was predeceased by her husband Jack, her brothers, Skip and James and her sister Elsie. During the last 11 months of her life, Theresa relied on her family and her niece, Nancy Hamel, as well as the support and care of Jennifer Howitt, Jennifer Weiss and Hospice of Southern Maine.
A concelebrated Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013 at 11 a.m. at Holy Martyrs' Church, 266 Foreside Road, Falmouth, ME. Arrangements are by the Conroy-Tully Crawford Funeral Home, 172 State Street, Portland. On-line condolences may be expressed at: www.ctcrawford.com.
The family suggests that memorials may be made in lieu of flowers to: LearningWorks
181 Brackett Street
Portland, ME 04102
Conroy-Tully Crawford Funeral Homes and Cremation Services
172 State Street Portland, ME 04101
Published in Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram on Jan. 29, 2013