BANGOR – Rena Maxine Gates passed away Aug. 8, 2005, in Bangor, after a long heroic struggle with Alzheimer’s. Rena took her last breath in this life as her three children held her and spoke of the eternal love they all shared. Born April 21, 1931, in Calais, Rena was the daughter of the late Mary Amanda Thibeault and James Henry Armstrong. Rena graduated from Crosby High in Belfast, having already earned her beautician’s license while still in school. It was during her senior year, that Rena met her future husband, Donald Lawrence Gates of Jamaica Plain, Mass. Their love began at first sight. Rena and Don moved to Bangor and began their family life. Rena worked periodically over the years but focused primarily on bestowing her gaiety, passion for life and love upon her three children and all who knew her. Following the untimely death of her beloved husband in September 1965, Rena resumed her career as a beautician at Bangor Mental Health. At the same time, she pursued her passion for life long learning, earning a bachelor of arts with honors in education from the University of Maine, in 1974. Rena will long be remembered for her boundless energy, zany sense of humor, her inherent artistic abilities, burning the midnight oil at the kitchen table on Elm Street in order to excel in her studies, and working two jobs. Characteristically, Rena accomplished all this while ensuring that her children were uniquely cherished and supported. Rena’s generosity and passion for life and learning were the foundation of her educational philosophy as she taught and nurtured hundreds of children during her career as a teacher in the Bangor School System. Rena went on to refine her craft as she earned her master’s degree in education. She remained in teaching in Bangor until her retirement in 1991. Rena continued her quest for new experiences and knowledge upon her retirement as she studied both French and Spanish, enjoyed art, poetry, and music, and immersed herself in her favorite past time of reading the classics and powerful modern literature. Rena’s devoted love for her children, grandchildren, and friends dominated her retirement years. Perhaps the greatest testament to Rena lies in the facing of her own illness. Her concerns centered on the impact to her children rather than on herself. Rena lived each day with the same grace, integrity, kindness, and steely determination that exemplified her character. Her children were honored and their lives greatly enriched as Rena spent the last seven years living with them as her health declined. One of the greatest gifts Rena bestowed on her children was the comfort of her unyielding faith in them and acceptance of their unique spirits. I had a mother who read to me and When mother read aloud, far lands Seemed very near and true; I crossed the desert’s gleaming sands, Or hunted the jungle’s prowling bands, Or sailed the ocean blue; When mother read aloud I longed For noble deeds to do – To help the right, redress the wrong, It seemed so easy to be strong, so simple to be true, You may have tangible wealth untold, Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold, Richer than I you’ll never be – I had a Mother who read to me. Rena is survived by a sister, Norma Howard and husband, Vaughn, of Searsport; her three children, Gary W. Gates and his wife, Sandra, of Hermon, Cherille Johnson of Carmel, Dawn Knight and her husband, James, of Bangor; her grandchildren, Amanda Johnson, Benjamin Gates, Joseph Gates, Mary Gates, Caitlyn Johnson, Nicole Knight, and Aaron Knight; her dear friends and caregivers, Kathy Reynolds and her husband, Gary, of Hermon; three great-grandchildren; several nieces and nephews; devoted friend, Joanne Bowden of Brewer. She was predeceased by her husband, Donald; two sisters, June and Winnie. The family would life to thanks the staff and volunteers at the Stillwater Healthcare for their loving care of our mother during this last year. Family and Friends are invited to a celebration of re-membrance and refreshments 4 p.m. Friday, Aug. 12, at her daughter, Cherille Johnson’s home at 598 Hampden Road (Route 69) in Carmel. Contributions in Rena’s memory may be made to the Bangor Public Library or for the purchase of children’s literature to benefit the local elementary school in your community.