Doris R. Whitten

GORHAM - Doris R. Whitten, 98, died Tuesday morning Jan. 8, 2019 at Gorham House in Gorham, after a brief illness.She was born July 20, 1920, in Portland, the only daughter of Bessie Adelia and Walter Joseph Meserve. She graduated from Deering High School in 1938. By that time, she had learned to play the piano, organ, mandolin and oboe.She started her career as a church organist at Portland's Forest Avenue Friends Church at age 13, and played the oboe in the Portland Symphony Orchestra during her senior year in high school. After high school, Doris graduated from Gorham Normal School in 1941 and subsequently taught all eight grades in a one-room schoolhouse in West Buxton, for one year.In 1942, Doris married Alfred A. Mann. After he was discharged from the service after WWII, they moved to Gorham with their children. By 1960, the family had grown to seven children.Although Doris never returned to public school teaching, she kept busy caring for her family. She was always grateful that she did not have to work outside the home while the children were growing up. Her kind and helpful nature, along with her teaching background, provided a warm and secure environment that forever shaped the lives of her children. Doris joined Gorham's School Street Methodist Church and, in addition to singing in the choir, served on several church committees, knit mittens for the church fair and cooked for the church suppers.Initially she filled in for the church organist and later became the full-time organist from 1967 until 1983 as her choir grew to 23 members. She often said, "Those were the good old days!"Each Sunday evening for over 30 years, Doris played a small portable organ at a local nursing home while members of the church sang the old hymns for the patients. Some of them sang along with the choir. She also played for many Gorham High School graduation ceremonies.In 1983, Doris married Dr. Maurice M. Whitten who had recently retired as a Professor of Chemistry at USM in Gorham. Doris thought this would be a good time to retire from being the church organist and sit in a comfortable pew with her husband, though she kept getting calls to substitute. Over time, she became the organist at the North Congregational Church in Groveville.Doris and Maurice traveled extensively in all of the States, Canadian Provinces and beyond. In 1985, they flew to Australia where Maurice's father came from. They finished this three-month trip around the world by stopping at several countries on the way home. In 1990, they attended the "Passion Play" in Oberammergau, Bavaria. Doris's interests included knitting mittens for the Gorham Food Pantry, cooking and taking walks with Maurice. She spent hours each day emailing family and friends, keeping everyone in touch with each other. She was a member of the Gorham Historical Society and the Maine Historical Society.Doris was predeceased by a brother, Dr. Bruce E. Meserve.She is survived by her husband, Dr. Maurice M. Whitten, and her children; Judith A. (and Ron) Caouette, Old Orchard Beach, Alan A. (and Jane) Mann, Pittsboro, N.C.; Margery J. Hulsey, Westbrook; Beverly E. Lessard, Naples; Dr. Ronald W. (and Elizabeth Larson) Mann, Neenah, Wis.; Stephen A. (and Kaye) Mann, Bridgewater, N.H.; and Mary Beth (and David) Delany, Cary, N.C.Doris is also survived by 18 grandchildren; 25 great-grandchildren; and a brother, Dr. Walter J. Meserve, of Brooklin.There will be no visiting hours. The funeral service will be at the Cressey Road United Methodist Church in Gorham, in April, a date and time to be announced. A gathering will take place after the service in the Fellowship Room. Burial will be at the Highland Cemetery in Limerick.Arrangements are in the care of the Gorham Chapel of Dolby Blais & Segee, 76 State St., Gorham, ME 04038. To express condolences or participate in Doris' online tribute, please visit www.DolbyBlaisSegee.com. In lieu of flowers, donations in Doris's name may be sent to theCressey Road UnitedMethodist Church,81 Cressey Rd.,Gorham, ME 04038


Published in Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram on Jan. 10, 2019