The mother-in-law of Gov. Paul LePage has died at the age of 77.

Rita DeRosby died Sunday in Augusta, surrounded by her family. She married Richard DeRosby in 1957 and the couple raised four children in Oakland, including the governor’s wife, Ann LePage.

“Their lives were built around nurturing and raising her four children,” her family wrote.

According to the Morning Sentinel in Waterville, which received her obituary, DeRosby spent the last years of her life with her daughter and son-in-law in the Blaine House, the official residence of the governor and his family.

“Over the past five years, some of Rita’s best memories were spent surrounded by a loving Blaine House staff, and elite members of the Maine State Police, that she came to think of as family,” her obituary reads.

DeRosby was a survivor, “a medical miracle” who “beat all the odds,” her family wrote.


She was diagnosed with scleroderma in 1995 and spent the next 20 years involved with medical studies that tried to find a cure for the connective tissue disease.

Hardening of the skin is one of the most visible manifestations of the disease. It is not contagious, infectious or malignant, according to the Scleroderma Foundation. It’s estimated that 300,000 Americans have the disease.

“She did everything in her power to save another person from enduring this illness,” her family wrote.

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, expressed condolences in a statement released Tuesday night.

“Rita DeRosby was a truly inspiring woman, always able to find the humor in any situation, even as she dealt with a difficult, long-term illness. Rita participated in countless events in communities across our state over the years, demonstrating her deep love and loyalty to her family and her strong commitment to the people of Maine,” Collins said. “My heart goes out to her daughter Ann LePage and the Governor, as well as to all their family, as they mourn the loss of Ann’s beloved mother.”

A celebration of DeRosby’s life will be held at the Faith Evangelical Free Church in Waterville at 11:30 a.m. Friday.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to The Travis Mills Foundation, at 89 Water St. in Hallowell. Ann LePage has worked closely with the foundation, which is establishing a retreat in Mount Vernon to help combat-wounded veterans and their families recover.

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