Elizabeth “Betty” Rice Shesler died peacefully Dec. 18, 2009, at the Knox Center for Long Term Care in Rockland, surrounded by family and friends after a period of declining health. She was born in Hamden, Conn., on Dec. 15, 1917, the daughter of Carleton and Clara Rice.

Raised in Bath, she graduated from Morse High School as a member of the Class of 1935. She was awarded a scholarship to attend Oberlin College, where she earned a bachelor of arts degree in 1939. After graduation, she moved to Yonkers, N.Y., and worked in New York City. It was through her church, friends and family that she met her future husband, Dr. Laurence F. Shesler Jr., of Yonkers, N.Y. They married and after he completed his tour of duty in the Navy during World War II they settled in Thomaston, where he opened his dental practice and they raised their family of five children.

A devoted mother, wife and friend, Betty was blessed with a passion for classical music; she was an accomplished pianist and organist. Her knowledge and love of music, including opera, was developed during her childhood years, when she learned from listening to many classical works with her mother. A lifelong learner, she was an avid reader, particularly of religious and spiritual works, Shakespeare and poetry. She also was an extraordinarily dedicated writer, journal-keeper, family historian and photographic archivist, animal lover, and talented cook.

Her extensive volunteerism and community involvement included work with the Daughters of the American Revolution, Farnsworth Programming Committee, Red Cross Hospital Volunteers, Rita Smith Scholarship Committee, and co-grand marshal of Thomaston 4th of July Celebration, along with her husband. She was a past president of the Thomaston Garden Club and a founder of the Friends of Montpelier, church organist, and member of the American Guild of Organists. She was also a member of St. John Baptist Episcopal Church, the Federated Church and the New Church.

She was predeceased by her parents; her brother, Wilfred; her husband, Laurence; and her granddaughter, Christine.

She is survived by her five children, Margaret Cochrane and her husband, Wayne, of Bath, Carl Shesler and his wife, Christine, of Madison, N.J., Katherine Tripp and her husband, George, of Tenants Harbor, John Shesler and his wife, Wendy, of Arlington, Mass., and Jeanne Hearn and her husband, Patrick, of Keene, N.H.; nine grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; several nieces, nephews and cousins; her devoted and loving friends, Bernadette, Marie and Shirley; many other dear friends; and her beloved cat, Martha.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, Jan. 2 at 11 a.m. at St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church, 200 Main St. in Thomaston. The Rev. Peter Jenks and the Rev. Andrew Stinson will officiate. A spring interment will take place in the family plot at the Village Cemetery in Thomaston.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in her honor may be made to the Camden-Rockport Animal Rescue League, P.O. Box 707, Rockport, ME 04856; Humane Society of Knox County, P.O. Box 1294, Rockland, ME 04841; St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church, 200 Main St., Thomaston, ME 04861; or Kno-Wal-Lin Home Care and Hospice, 170 Pleasant St., Rockland, ME 04841.

Arrangements are with the Hall & Bibber Funeral Home in Thomaston.

Expressions of sympathy may be sent to the family through hallbibber@myfairpoint.net.