UNITY — Janette Mary Cole Hayes was born Oct. 1, 1934, to Marshall and Gertrude (Hustus) Cole. The second of 10 children, Janette grew up on the family farm in Thorndike, and learned early on the meaning of hard work; caring for her siblings, lugging water, doing chores, and baking biscuits, all while keeping up with her school work.

She attended schools in Thorndike and graduated as valedictorian from Freedom Academy, class of 1953.

Janette married Milton Hayes of Troy and soon after settled in Unity where she was a devoted homemaker and loving mother to her two children, Dianne and Gary. When Milton became ill, Janette got a job at the local bank in Unity, the former Federal Trust, where she enjoyed working with her good friend, Rowena Mitchell. Not long after, Janette was a widow at the age of 27. She held various other jobs including working on the potato harvester for Edgerly Farms and baking pies for Ray’s Diner in Knox. She retired from the Kennebec Valley Mental Health Center where she had been an accountant for a number of years.

Upon retirement, Janette moved to East Benton with her long-time companion, Dennis Littlefield, where they built a beautiful home and enjoyed many years together tending their garden, camping, and attending stock car races. Janette was an excellent cook and had a passion for trying new recipes, mostly to Dennis’s delight. If you stopped for a visit, she always had a scrumptious dessert. She enjoyed crafts and crocheted beautiful afghans, baby blankets, doll outfits, and doilies. ,

Janette was very much a “people person” and for many years, as long as her health permitted, she attended and helped plan many of her school reunions. Staying connected with her classmates was very important to her and her lifelong friendships were a source of great pride and joy. She had a sharp memory most of her life and loved “remembering when.” She was a 50-year-plus member of the Benjamin Berry Post 50 American Legion Auxiliary.

Throughout her life, Janette was the “go to” person in her family. She was always available to help in any way and looked forward to seeing relatives from near and far at family reunion each year. Above all else, though, Janette, was a wonderful mother, friend, and role model to her kids. She taught by example and instilled in them fairness, creativity, and, most importantly, the Golden Rule. As stated in Proverbs, “She was clothed in strength and dignity…from her mouth came wisdom, and the teaching of kindness was on her tongue….”

Janette was diagnosed with dementia, which took her ability to speak, and neuropathy, which took her ability to walk. Even so, she was always ready with a smile for her caregivers at Woodlawn Nursing Center in Skowhegan, where she resided the past three years. Janette passed away Sept. 23, 2021, one week shy of her 87th birthday, with her loving daughter, Dianne, and son-in-law, Stan, by her side. Words cannot convey the measure of our heartache and how much she will be missed.

Janette was predeceased by her parents, husband Milton, and her son, Gary E. Hayes; also by her brothers, Marshall (Mickey), George, Richard, Laurence (Stubby), and Lewis Cole, and sister, Marilyn Paquet; brothers-in-law Ivan Paquet, Robert Hayes, and Paul Hayes; companion Dennis Littlefield and her dear, lifelong friend, Flo (Florence) Cates Jewett.

She is survived by her daughter, Dianne Meserve and husband, Stan; granddaughter Michelle Hayes; brothers Nelson (Marge), and Stephen (Brenda) Cole and sister Brenda Letourneau; sisters-in-law Marjorie, Beverly and Louise Cole and Elizabeth (Liz) Sullivan, and many other family members and friends whom she treasured.