Evelyn Shirley Blaisdell Varney Stover died Saturday, February 25, 2006 at Coastal Manor in Yarmouth where she had resided for the past nine years. She was 85. Evelyn was born July 26, 1920 in Freeport, the daughter of William and Ethel Corliss Blaisdell. She moved to Chebeague Island at the age of four where she was raised by her mother and stepfather, Ellsworth H. (Harry) Miller.
She thought of the island as home. As a child she attended a small neighborhood church on Chebeague and was educated in island schools. During WW II she was one of the volunteers in an observation tower located on top of the island school where she looked for enemy airplanes that might fly over the bay. After the war she moved to Portland, married Charles Varney and lived for many years in North Yarmouth. In 1990 she married Leslie Stover.
Evie was a true life long learner. As an adult she took driving lessons, got her license, went back to school and received a GED and a CNA. She worked at the Osteopathic Hospital for many years and after she retired she spent many happy hours volunteering in the Foster Grandparents Program. One of her favorite activities was taking elderly friends and relatives out for a ride. She was a very kind person.
Evelyn leaves a son, Gary W. Varney and his wife, Claudia of Freeport and a son, Ralph of Eagle Lake, a grandson Charles Varney of Chebeague, a grandson, Scott Varney and his wife, Christina of Buxton, a granddaughter, Deborah Tomasini and her husband, Miguel of North Yarmouth, and seven great-grand sons. She also leaves a special niece, Norma Morahan Sawyer of South Portland, a niece, Donna Miller Damon and a nephew, David Miller both of Chebeague, and numerous grand nieces and grand nephews.
Evelyn was predeceased by husbands Charles Varney and Leslie Stover; granddaughter, Angela Varney Weagle; brothers Edgar and Arthur Blaisdell; stepsister, Rachel Miller Sanderson; and stepbrothers, Ellsworth and H. William Miller.
YARMOUTH - Every Memorial Day, Evelyn Varney Stover would gather up her family on Chebeague Island and get on board her brother's lobster boat.
They would travel to Bunganut Creek in Freeport, tie up at the landing and climb a hill to a small cemetery where relatives were buried.
"She continued to visit there even after my uncle didn't have a lobster boat anymore," said a son, Gary Varney of Freeport.
Evelyn Shirley (Blaisdell) Varney Stover, a woman who was devoted to her family and volunteered for many years as a foster grandparent, died Saturday at Coastal Manor in Yarmouth. Mrs. Stover, 85, had resided there for the past nine years.
"She was well loved," Gary Varney said on Sunday. "She was very dedicated to me. She guarded me like a hawk."
Mrs. Stover always loved Chebeague Island, where she moved at the age of 4. She loved going out on boats, walking the beaches and watching the ocean. She told the family stories about her childhood, growing up with three stepbrothers and a stepsister, running from the family camp or fish house to the island's store and ice cream parlor. One winter, when the harbor was frozen, they took a sled across the frozen seawater to go to the movies in Portland.
During World War II, Mrs. Stover and others volunteered in the observation tower atop the island school, searching the sky for enemy planes. Officials were concerned about the ship refueling station at Long Island.
"She had a card that different planes on it, so they knew what everything was," Gary Varney said.
After the war, Mrs. Stover moved to Portland. She worked for a time at a rug factory in Yarmouth, where she made many lifelong friends. She was outgoing and energetic, enjoying dance halls and canasta.
Mrs. Stover finally got her driver's license in her 50s, and after that she always seemed to be driving family members or friends somewhere.
"Once she got her car, she was on the road with the women," Gary Varney said. "They'd go to Cole Farms. In Portland, she used to like to go to Porteous all the time, and Woolworth's."
For many years, Mrs. Stover volunteered for the Foster Grandparent Program, run by the People's Regional Opportunity Program.
"She just loved being with the little kids, holding them and talking with them," Gary Varney said. "She did that for quite some time, and it meant an awful lot to her."
Mrs. Stover loved country music. Gary Varney used to play guitar for her, along with a friend who played the banjo. They visited her at Coastal Manor.
"I think she really enjoyed that," her son said.
- Trevor Maxwell