Louise Mae (French) Cookson Lancaster
April 6, 1927 – March 22, 2023
Westbrook, Maine – On March 22, 2023, Louise Cookson Lancaster stepped off the “train” at Heaven’s Gate into the arms of her beloved “Cookie”. During her almost 96 years, she touched many hearts through her love for her family and friends, her kindness and compassion for others, her deep faith in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and her beautiful singing voice. She loved to sing in church and was a member of the choir and soloist for many years at the Chestnut St. United Methodist Church, and then at the Prides Corner Church.
She once said that she had loved two men in her life and she got to marry both of them. She was widowed twice, but continued to share her loving spirit in spite of her deep loss. She was an incredible woman… spunky, feisty, lovable, smart, strong, and talented. She had a quick sense of humor that served her well.
She had 3 daughters, but many of their friends called her Mom as well. She said she didn’t mind being their Mom too, as long as she didn’t have to clothe them or educate them.
Louise was a 70-year member of the Rebekah Lodge, having served as Past Noble Grand of Ivy Rebekah Lodge No.5, District Deputy President, and President of Rebekah Assembly of Maine (2001-2002). She was an associate member of the Sunniland Rebekah Lodge No.47 in Lakeland, Florida. She was proud to represent the Rebekah Assembly and worked diligently to promote the service goals of the order.
Louise’s life-long knitting/crocheting skills served her well as she started a prayer shawl ministry at the Prides Corner Church in 2009. At last count, she had made and distributed more than 450 prayer shawls to friends and others in need of knowing the healing touch of God. Her outreach ministry extended throughout Maine, Florida, California, Tennessee, Canada and even Vietnam. As her eyesight rapidly diminished in the last couple of years and her hands became more crippled with arthritis, she could no longer crochet, but found she could still knit. She began making scarves for the homeless and donated more than 60 scarves to the Grace-Street Ministry in the past 18 months because she wanted to make a difference.
Louise was born in Bangor, Maine to Sylvia (Moran) French and Ralph French on April 6, 1927. She was a graduate of Bangor High School in the Class of 1944. She served as a neighborhood black-out Warden during WWII in Bangor. She graduated from Husson Business College and worked as a stenographer for a short time before becoming a wife and mother. She worked “at-home” doing various jobs while her girls were small and returned to the work-force once her youngest daughter was in grade school. Louise (or Lee as she was known then) worked for the Maine Turnpike Authority as the Fare Collection Assistant reporting to the Superintendent of Fare Collection and retired after 26 years.
Louise was predeceased by her first husband, Clyde W. (Cookie) Cookson, Jr., in 1995; and her second husband, Charles H. Lancaster, Jr., in 2009. In addition to her parents, Louise was also predeceased by her brother, William E. French.
Louise will be greatly missed by her three daughters, Cheryl (Cookson) York and husband Bill of Durham; Laurie (Cookson) Edes of Westbrook; and Vicki (Cookson) Rice and her life partner Michael Berg of Frazier Park, CA. She also leaves behind grandchildren Chad York of Farmington NH; Brian York and wife Michele of Kennewick WA; Greg York and wife Karen of Nahant MA; Alex York and wife Ann of Chelmsford MA; Tristan Smyth of Durham; Jenna Smyth of Windham; and Jerod Edes of Glenburn. She was blessed to have 10 great-grandchildren who called her Nana Lee: Sam and Lucas York of WA; Oliver York of NH; Sullivan (Sully) and Phineas (Phinny) Smyth-Shannon of Augusta ME; Ava, Edel and Scarlett York of Nahant MA; Bridget and Jack York of Chelmsford MA; and 2 great-grandchildren who called her Grammy Louise: Sophie and Finnegan Edes of Glenburn. Louise will also be missed by many nieces and nephews, as well as her dear friend, Ed Leonard of Veazie, whom she referred to as her “Little Brother”.
Her family held a Celebration of a Life well-lived last April for her 95th birthday, which she enjoyed immensely. Friends and family attended and shared with her how she had touched their lives. A private service for the placement of her ashes will take place sometime this summer.
The family thanks the staff of Northern Light Home Care and Hospice for the outstanding care they provided Louise, with a special thanks to Stacey and Martine.
In lieu of flowers, gifts in Louise’s memory may be made to one of the following organizations that she loved and supported:
Prides Corner Church, 235 Pride St. Westbrook ME 04092
Odd Fellows and Rebekah Home of Maine, 85 Caron Lane, Auburn ME 04210
Grace-Street Ministry, PO Box 7967, Portland ME 04112
Excerpted from “If Tomorrow Starts Without Me” by David Romano
If tomorrow starts without me, and I’m not here to see,
If the sun should rise and you find your eyes all filled with tears for me:
I wish so much you wouldn’t cry the way you did today,
While thinking of the many things we didn’t get to say.
I know how much you love me, as much as I love you
And each time that you think of me, I know you’ll miss me too.
So when tomorrow starts without me, don’t think we’re far apart,
For every time you think of me, I’m right there in your heart.