Obituary of Teresa M. Willett Steele
Teresa Marie Willett Steele, 85, passed away peacefully at her daughter’s home with her loving family by her side on March 18, 2023. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in May 2022, and pursued treatment at Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston and Northern Light Lafayette Family Cancer Institute in Brewer.
Teresa was born April 13, 1937, in Houlton Maine, the daughter of James Willett and Mildred Murphy Willett. She grew up in a small rural town, Sherman Station, with two older sisters, Mary and Betty and a younger brother, Thomas. Her parents instilled values that formed the backbone of her life: love of family, the Catholic faith, the importance of education, a strong work ethic, along with the importance of laughter and being kind to others.
When she was eleven, her parents looking for educational and occupational opportunities for the family, bought a beautiful dairy farm on Whiting Hill, Brewer. Once in Brewer, Teresa met lifelong friend Betty Fitzpatrick Gerding and oh the fun and laughter they had, even to this day.
Living close to Bangor offered the opportunity to fulfill her parents wish for their children to attend John Bapst High School. Teresa recalls this was her first step in her educational endeavors. It paved the way to fulfill two of her life’s desires, to be either a teacher or a nurse. Following high school graduation, she pursued a nursing career with the first step being graduation from Mercy Hospital School of Nursing in Portland, followed by two master’s degrees and a doctoral PhD in her later years. Teresa’s love of nursing inspired her to begin teaching at Eastern Maine Medical Center School of Nursing and later Husson University.
While at Husson University, Teresa was most proud of the opportunity to author and be granted federal funding to begin a Psychiatric Mental Health MSN Program which educated a long line of expert clinicians, clinical specialists, and Advanced Practice Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners to address mental health needs throughout Maine and beyond. Teresa retired from Husson University as Dean of Health, Professor Emeritus and Husson Fellow.
Teresa truly loved life: the state of Maine, winters in Florida, travel most anywhere and cruises with special friends. She was known for her gentle persistence and optimism. Many who knew and loved her referred to her fondly as “Mother Teresa.”
Teresa was a communicant of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Bangor, Maine. She served on numerous community boards in the Greater Bangor area.
Most of all, Teresa loved and adored her family. She is survived by her loving husband of nearly 64 years, Ernest “Ernie” Steele, two daughters and their spouses, Catherine “Cathy” Steele (James Willey) of Portland, and Susan “Suzie” Steele (Stephen LeBlanc) of Holden, grandchildren Joshua Willey of Portland and Nicole LeBlanc of Denver, Colorado, as well as grand-dog Jack. Teresa was predeceased by her parents Mildred and James Willett, sister Mary Huskins and husband George, brother-in-law Kenneth Libbey. She is survived by two siblings Elizabeth Libbey of Scottsdale Arizona and Thomas Willett (Anita Willett) of Estero Florida/Savannah Georgia, 24 nieces and nephews, many great nieces and nephews, cousins, and friends.
Special thanks to Beacon Hospice, especially Mary Rowe, RN, Cassie Stanley CNA, Blair Marsh, as well as Dana Farber Cancer Institute, especially James Cleary, MD, PhD, Ritchell van Dams, MD, and Northern Light Lafayette Cancer Institute, especially Sarah Sinclair, DO, Claudia Luchini, RN, along with the Northern Light Ultrasound Department and numerous colleagues of Teresa’s daughter, Susan.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated 10:00 AM Friday, May 19, 2023 at St. Paul the Apostle Parish, St. John’s Catholic Church, 217 York St., Bangor, Maine. The funeral mass will be live streamed via the church website HERE. Burial will be at Woodlawn Cemetery, North Main St, Brewer, Maine.
For those who wish, in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in Teresa’s name to the Teresa Willett Steele Scholarship at Husson University, 1 College Circle, Bangor, Maine 04401 or HERE or to St. Paul of the Apostle Parish, 217 York St, Bangor Maine 04401, or to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Dr. James Cleary’s Research Fund, P.O. Box 849168, Boston, MA 02884-9168 or HERE
Arrangements trusted to Kiley & Foley Funeral Service, 69 State St., Brewer. Messages and memories may be shared with her family at kileyandfoley.comTo send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Teresa Steele, please visit Tribute Store
Mass of Christian Burial
Burial & Reception
In Loving Memory
1937 - 2023
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