Kate Hanbury

May 03, 2021
Kate Hanbury

Belfast — On the sunlit morning of April 21, 2021, just 12 days after her 74th birthday, Kate Hanbury died quietly and peacefully, after suffering a long period of declining health. Kate’s spirit is free and at peace now; she has slipped the traps of pain and fear, where she, at long last, is free to once again spread her wings to glide among the stars.

Kathleen Jane Carson was born in Washington, D.C., April 9, 1947, just in time for the cherry blossoms, as her father loved to recall. Kate was the first child of Edward G. Carson and Jeanne E. Carson, and her birth was followed by those of her sisters, Cindy and Becky, and her brother, Tracy.

In her senior year at Princess Anne High School, Kathy’s (as she was then known) beauty, poise and musical talent caught the eye of several people, and she was encouraged to enter the world of “beauty pageants.” She and her parents saw that her involvement could benefit her academic future with the chance of scholarships. Kate won her first title, as Miss Virginia Beach, when she was 18. Even though this was a local pageant, it was a large market, where she frequented the covers of magazines and promotional brochures as the lovely ambassador for the Virginia Beach/Norfolk area. The Tidewater area was visited by millions of tourists a year, and there was a very large Naval Base in nearby Norfolk, where she was an extremely popular guest at banquets, balls, and ship christenings.

With the title of Miss Virginia Beach, Kathy Carson would automatically become a contestant at the prestigious and highly regarded Miss Virginia pageant, the final steppingstone on the road to the coveted Miss America pageant and the doors it would open for a young woman. At the week-long daily competitions of the Miss Virginia pageant, Kathy won the Miss Congeniality title, and was judged as the winner of the Talent and the Swimsuit competitions. However, she had an accident off-stage that was serious enough to impede her ability to perform at a competitive level, and was awarded the prizes and title of First Runner-Up.

Prior to competing at the pageant, Kate had made the acquaintance of a local surgeon who had expressed more than just a passing interest in getting to know her better, whether or not the pageant was a success. Kate’s disappointment at the outcome of the pageant was soon behind her when Dr. Euclid M. Hanbury Jr. proposed marriage, and she was swept off her feet and into a lifestyle beyond anything she could have imagined.

In 1970, Dr. Hanbury told Kate that a small hospital on the coast of Maine was recruiting experienced surgeons to build a surgical practice at Waldo County General Hospital in Belfast; his being an avid sailor clinched the deal, and the two left Portsmouth, Va., For Belfast.

Once she got past the initial shock of the realities of winter in Maine, Kate made the most of living in a new place and making new friends. Kate was an active participant in many clubs and activities, such as bridge and curling. Kate possessed a great deal of vocal talent, and had been chosen to sing in her school’s Madrigal Singers, as well as other musical groups in Virginia. After moving to Maine, she and Euclid were instrumental in forming and becoming charter members of the Robert Coller Chorale, with which she performed many times over the years.

In January 1972, Kate’s son, Euclid M. Hanbury II (Luke) was born, and although the marriage didn’t last, Kate’s joy and pride and love were never-ending, and she was unwavering in her belief that Luke’s arrival was the best thing that ever happened in her entire life.

Kate’s interest in the culinary arts began when she was a newlywed under the tutelage of Euclid, and from the beginning, she showed a talent for all things “chefly.” Soon after being divorced, Kate and a friend opened a small restaurant in Camden, and though they didn’t know anything about business, the restaurant was very successful for a period.

In the late 1970s, Kate was hired as head chef at a larger, more established restaurant where she gained a reputation as an excellent chef who married Asian and French cuisines (she would credit her devotion to Julia Child’s book for the “French” part).

Through the next several years, Kate’s reputation as an extraordinarily talented chef led her to the culinary helm of some highly regarded, storied restaurants, but the one with the highest praise was The Ridge House on Route 7 in Brooks, with its “famous” Sunday brunches and a dinner menu offering many of Kate’s original plates, and with an atmosphere that felt truly magical. Even years later, former diners sometimes still called Kate to ask for her recipe for Tomato Cognac Soup!

Kate’s last job as a chef was at the former Penobscot Meadows Inn in Belfast. Kate was the only chef in Maine who earned four, 4-star restaurant reviews at four different restaurants from the Maine Sunday Telegram. In her long career as a chef regarded as one of the best, Kate was most proud of this accomplishment.

Kate began what she saw as her “life’s work” in 1990, when she took a job at Choice Skyward in Rockland as a fledgling addictions counselor, working toward her professional license. As the big sister in a busy family, Kate was regularly called upon by her parents to care for the younger “kids,” and she was a natural at nurturing; she would later be called “Mother Nurture” by someone who came to know Kate’s caring nature.

Through the course of her 20-plus years in this profession, with Kate’s clinical skills, coupled with her caring, non-judgmental regard for her clients and their families, there is no doubt that she helped facilitate change in the lives of countless addicts and their families. Kate was a fierce advocate, and a champion for those struggling day by day to find their way back to life. Kate approached every suffering person who sat across from her with an open mind, a caring spirit, and a soft, safe place to fall. Kate wore her heart on her sleeve, and she never said a word she didn’t mean or took on a challenge that she wouldn’t stand up for wholeheartedly.

Kate’s truest love, devotion and commitment were saved for those blessed to be counted among her family and her friends, and it’s those she leaves behind who send her to dance among the angels with the last full measure of their deep and abiding love. Kate was committed to a daily practice of treating others with kindness, and the world would be hard-pressed to find another with as big a heart and generous spirit as Kate’s.

With Kate’s endless energy, her passion for her loved ones, and her penchant for transforming her perennial gardens into masterpieces of life and color, she was a true “force of nature.” But few people knew she was, by nature, an introvert who was sensitive in matters of the heart, and if you were fortunate enough to be loved by Kate, she made sure you knew it, and she in turn, was loved dearly.

If the true measure of a person’s contribution to this life is to have left the world a better place, Kate earned a 4-star review from every angel sent down to fly her home.

Kate is survived by her loving and devoted wife of 32 years, Susan H. Long of Belfast; her adoring son, Luke M. Hanbury of Biddeford; sisters Cynthia (Cindy) Carson Paxson of Camden, Ohio, and Rebecca (Becky) Carson Gagne and her husband Jacques of Blue Hill; brother Tracy E. Carson of Biddeford; sister-in-law Patty Carson of Saco; brother-in-law John R. Long and his wife Dianne of Belfast; niece J. Ashley Gagne and her husband, Nefer Munoz, of Irving, Texas; nephews Wilson Paxson and Carson Paxson, both of Ohio; James Gagne and his wife, Noami Brautigam, of Monroe; Andrew Gagne and his partner, Sarah Kearsley, of Norway; and Myles Carson of Biddeford; grand-nieces Ella Paxson of Camden, Ohio; Lucia Belen Munoz of Irving, Texas; and Neta Jeanne Brautigam of Monroe; and grand-nephew Santiago Munoz of Irving, Texas.

Condolences and memories may be shared at longfuneralhomecamden.com. Arrangements are with the Long Funeral Home & Cremation Service in Camden.

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