Hampden – Elinor A. Canders, 92, passed away peacefully February 8, 2019. She was born July 15, 1926, the daughter of Eugene and Leola (Knowles) Nealley.
Elinor lived most of her life in Hampden. She grew up on the family’s farm on the Kennebec Road with her parents and three brothers. Her first career was as medical secretary at the Osteopathic Hospital in Bangor. During that time, she was introduced to Graydon “Jim” Canders of Greenville. They fell in love and married in April 1951.
Elinor and Jim lived in Greenville for a short time before moving to Hampden to raise their two children, Susan and Gregory. At that stage, Jim worked for the Bangor and Aroostook Railroad and Elinor worked for a doctor in Bangor. While the kids were still quite young, they decided that she would attend the University of Maine at Orono on a part time basis with the aim of qualifying as a teacher. Despite the responsibilities of motherhood and a job, she made the honor roll multiple semesters and qualified with flying colors. It was a very proud day for the family when Elinor got her degree. She went on to teach in the Bangor school system for 20 years.
Elinor was always enthusiastic and full of energy. She and Jim enjoyed an active life while raising their children. They provided Susan and Greg with many experiences and adventures, often taking family trips to Moosehead Lake. As a couple, Jim and Elinor were involved in square dancing groups, playing cards with friends, traveling to visit family, and were members of the VFW.
Elinor was a natural leader and took on many roles at Whitcomb-Baker VFW post in Hampden. She served as treasurer, secretary, and president of the Women’s Auxiliary, taking on positions of responsibility at local, state, and national levels. In 1991 she was elected to represent Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont on the National Council of Administration governing the VFW Women’s Auxiliaries. She was installed at the National Convention in Las Vegas that year. She was also renowned for organizing hunter’s breakfasts, electrician’s suppers, Children’s Day events, Voice of Democracy Speech competitions, Memorial Day commemorations and volunteering at the Maine Veterans Home in Bangor. She received several awards and public recognition for her service to the community.
After retiring from teaching, Elinor went on to her third career, as a florist. She always had a love of gardens and took great pleasure in creating floral arrangements.
In addition to her parents, Elinor was predeceased by her husband, Jim; and her siblings, Roger, Roland, and Donald.
Elinor is survived by her children, Susan Canders and her husband, Michael, of Australia; Gregory and wife, Cathy Canders, of Bangor; grandchildren, Zachary Canders, and Dr. Caleb Canders; and her step-grandchildren, Justin and Melanie, of Australia.
The last 14 months of Elinor’s life were spent as a resident at the Maine Veterans’ Home in Bangor, where she was well known from her time as a volunteer there. Her family would like to express their appreciation to all the staff who gave her such great care and assistance at that time. Sincere gratitude is also given to the nurses at Beacon Hospice.
A graveside service will be held at Lakeview Cemetery, Hampden, in the spring.