Cumberland Center, ME — Deborah Freeman, APRN, BC,61, of Cumberland Center, died on Saturday, June 11, 2016 at Gosnell Memorial Hospice House. She was the wife of Greg Sweetser.
She was born October 24, 1954, in Portland, ME to the late Eben and Barbara Freeman. Debby graduated from Deering High School in 1973 and from Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital School of Nursing with an RN in 1976, became a licensed Family Nurse Practitioner in 1982, earned her BS from the University of Maine at Farmington in 1992, and was appointed a Faculty Associate in Nursing at UMF in 1994.
Debby worked at Maine Medical Center Intensive Care Unit, Strong Area Health Center, Rangeley Health Center, Sugarloaf Region Health Center, as Director of the Saddleback Ski Area Ski Patrol, as Director of the Rangeley Region Ambulance Service, Tri-County Family Planning, Student Health Services at the University of Maine Farmington, Lakes Region Primary Care in Windham and finally Androscoggin Cardiology, in Auburn and Central Maine Heart and Vascular Center in Lewiston.
Debby was an amazing woman who touched the lives of everyone she met. Debby and her husband, Greg Sweetser, live in the Sweetser Family Farm, established in 1812, on Blanchard Road in Cumberland Center. The outpouring of love and support from her friends, family, colleagues, and patients is not surprising, but Debby would be embarrassed. She always pointed the spotlight on others even when she was the star.
Debby was motivated to give more than she took, and nursing was a natural career choice. She had a thirst for learning, and she was one of Maine’s, and the Nation’s, early Family Nurse Practitioners. She mentored dozens of nurses and was a preceptor for Simmons and University of Maine nurse practitioner students. The bonds she created with these individuals remains strong today. Debby blazed a trail for women early and continued throughout her life.
Debby’s first job in the Intensive Care unit at MMC was an immersion into the medical field. Deb took her skills to rural medicine when she practiced at the Strong Area Health Center and provided services at the Student Health Services at the University of Maine Farmington, and Tri County Family Planning. She loved rural medicine where one becomes a specialist in all aspects of health care. Her move back to Cumberland in 1996 brought her back to the MMC system, and finally she moved into cardiology at Androscoggin Cardiology, and eventually at Central Maine Heart and Vascular Institute. Deb’s specialty in pacemakers and implants made her a valuable member of the CMHV team.
An athlete her entire life, her passion was spending time in the mountains in the winter. She and her husband spent 18 years at Saddleback in Rangeley where they raised their children on the ski slopes, in the mountains, and on the lakes of Western Maine. This life long bond to winter sports never wavered. Debby was diagnosed with the aggressive Stage 4 Uterine cancer immediately following her 20-mile winter backcountry ski trip to Grand Falls Hut to celebrate New Year’s Eve 2015.
In her 16-month battle with cancer, Debby maintained an incredible outlook on life. She cherished every day and followed her mantra of “choose your attitude.” As she told her friends, “Greg and I wake up every morning and we make the decision to smile. What other choice is there?”
Debby and Greg were married for 37 years and shared more experiences and joy than they ever imagined. Debby’s pride and joy were her two boys, Sam and Eben. She was so proud to have raised two such fine men. Her joy expanded beyond all bounds with the addition of Sam’s wife, Erin McDermott Sweetser.
At her core, Debby was a healer, a mentor and an inspiration to her family and friends. Her legacy may be honored and perpetuated by the consideration of support for the Maine Children’s Cancer Program so that other children and families might have increased opportunity to experience and enjoy the beauty and blessings of long and active lives in Maine.
Debby is survived by her children, Samuel Billings Sweetser and his wife Erin McDermott Sweetser of Park City, Utah; and Eben Winthrop Sweetser of Orono, ME; Siblings, Sue Atwood and her husband Rusty of Gorham, ME; John Freeman and his wife Johnna Haskell of Carrabassett Valley, ME; and Betsy Doyon and her husband Dennis of Bethel, ME; brother-in-law Rick Sweeter and his wife Linda of Raymond, ME; sister-in-law Cathy Sweetser and her husband Jock Moore of Greenville, ME; and in-laws Dick and Connie Sweetser of Cumberland Center, ME.
Relatives and friends are invited to attend a memorial service, which will be held on Sunday, June 26, at 1:30 pm at the Sweetser Farm, 15 Blanchard Road, Cumberland Center, Maine.
Donations in Debby’s memory may be made to:
Maine Children’s Cancer Program
22 Bramhall Street
Portland, Maine 04102