Bessie Viola Leighton

AUGUSTA – Bessie Viola Leighton, 86, daughter of Edward and Grace (Blaisdell) Freeman, passed away on August 30, 2019 at the Augusta Center for Health and Rehabilitation in Augusta.

She is predeceased by Harland Clifford Leighton Jr., the loving father of her daughters, Mary Lynn Ayotte and her husband Paul of Sidney, Evelyn Jane Strother of Augusta and her husband Bruce, and Martha Leighton Coughlan and her husband Christopher of Randolph. Bessie also leaves behind five cherished grandchildren, Steven Ayotte of Pascoag, R.I., Amy Fougere of Sidney, and Patrick, Andrew, and Margaret Coughlan of Randolph; seven treasured great-grandchildren are Aubrie, Joseph, and Gabriel Fougere of Sidney as well as Braden, Caleb, Landon, and Ava Ayotte of Rhode Island.

Bessie was known for, especially during her years of raising young children, baking and sharing wonderful breads and pies, as well as sweets to bring to school parties; sewing Barbie doll clothes (which fit perfectly); and knitting mittens, hats, and other functional items for her family. Her adventurous spirit came out more after her retirement when she would go canoeing with her son-in-law and take spontaneous trips to Pemaquid with family. The Blaisdell family history and the 1635 wreck of the ship Angel Gabriel (as noted on a bronze plaque in Colonial Pemaquid) was always happily explained.

A proud 1949 graduate of Erskine Academy, Bessie enjoyed keeping up with the school’s progress as well as attending class reunions when able.

Bessie was employed by several medical offices before settling into her career in medical records for Gardiner General and Augusta General hospitals as well as at the Togus Veteran’s Administration.

Having a mind of her own and being a smart manager of her assets, Bessie rented rooms in her home to University of Maine medical students coming from all over the United States. Their parents had no worries of leaving their young adults with this motherly landlady who helped them navigate the area and took them on moose sighting trips in northern Maine in addition to routine coastal jaunts. A fighter until the end, Bessie will be greatly missed.

Her life will be celebrated in a private ceremony.

Arrangements are in the care of Knowlton and Hewins Funeral Home, One Church St., Augusta where condolences may be sent to the family on the obituary page of the website at

In lieu of flowers, donations in her name can be made to Erskine Academy.

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