Ellen D. Birlem

Wed, 08/26/2015 - 8:15am

Ellen Davis Birlem, 73, died Aug. 22, 2015, surrounded by her family who sent her off full of love, adoration and eternal devotion.

Born on the Davis Dairy Farm in Veazie, Ellen was the daughter of Thomas and Katharine Davis and the fourth of five children.

Growing up on a dairy farm molded Ellen into a woman of strength and fortitude, with a wry and dry Maine sense of humor that sparkled through her shiny blue Irish eyes and radiated out through her love of all children. It also fostered her lifelong love affair with whole milk, butter and farm fresh eggs and developed her insistence that all food be completely natural before the concept became mainstream. It was her conviction that if you couldn't pronounce any word in a list of ingredients, it shouldn't be consumed.

She married her best friend and deeply devoted husband, Charles Birlem of Southwest Harbor, on Nov. 24, 1967, being married nearly 48 wonderful years.

With her BS and master's from the University of Maine at Orono, she earned her Ed.D at the University of New York — Buffalo. She went on to teach at McGill University, Montreal, PQ, Concordia University, Montreal, PQ, State University of New York, Buffalo, New York, and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee.

She wrote and published with her sister a book for parents to help their children improve their reading, "Parents Help Your Child Become a Better Reader," and wrote articles on raising good readers and raising close age children. She also conducted a series of highly successful summer reading programs for children needing extra assistance. She was particularly adept at and sensitive to the educational needs of elementary school children with learning problems. Mostly though, every child that ever met her felt immediately loved and supported.

Her family has lived in many different locations and she was wonderfully supportive of all of it, as we relocated to many amazing spots throughout the U.S. and into Canada. Ellen and Charlie ultimately achieved their lifelong goal together of returning home to Maine, moving to Boothbay in 1997. In Boothbay she was a member of the Boothbay Garden Club, the Boothbay Harbor Yacht Club and the Down East Yacht Club.

Ellen has three children, Ian Birlem of Boulder, Colorado, Peter Birlem of Boulder, Colorado, and Margaret Birlem of Cape Elizabeth. Ellen was also the most adored grandmother to her two grandchildren, 7-year-old Miles Birlem and 2-year-old Norah Birlem Deluca. She leaves her sister, Anne Chadbourne of Fullerton, California; her brother, Thomas Davis of Kenduskeag; and her sister, Katherine Wiesendanger of Midlothian, Virginia.

She was predeceased by her sister, Mary Schlotter of Medford, Oregon.

There will be a service held at the Congregational Church in Boothbay Harbor on Sept. 4, 2015, at 4 p.m. All are very welcome to attend our celebration of her life, immediately followed by a gathering at her home in Boothbay.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Boothbay Harbor Memorial Library Children's Room, 4 Oak Street, Boothbay Harbor, ME 04538, or the Maine Health Raising Readers Program, 110 Free Street, Portland, ME 04101 (checks should be made out to Maine Health).

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Arrangements are entrusted to Hall’s of Boothbay, 975 Wiscasset Road, Boothbay.