There are people in this world whose presence brings light to everyone around them. This radiance shines positivity and spreads joy that is left upon others when they leave their company. Helen Raye (Coston) Witham, 78, passed away unexpectedly Feb. 2, 2022. She was born July 19, 1943, in Bar Harbor, the daughter of Barbara (Hamor) and Paul Coston Sr.
Helen was a graduate of Bar Harbor High School. Following her graduation, Helen completed a teaching degree from Aroostook State College in Presque Isle. Helen married Jim Witham and they resided in South Portland, where Helen taught physical education for over 30 years. Helen and Jim welcomed two children, Charlotte (Witham) O’Reilly and James Coston Witham Sr. Helen held many positions including swim instructor, lifeguard and varsity basketball coach. Helen returned to Bar Harbor, where she worked endlessly alongside her sister Mary Jane “Janey” Whitney and her brother Paul Coston at the Villager Motel in Bar Harbor.
Helen loved to work and had no plans of ever retiring. She was the founder and owner of the Bar Harbor Shuttle, where she found joy in connecting with travelers from all over the world. Helen loved the outdoors. As a young girl she would ice skate at Glen Mary. You could find her walking Witch Hole every day or sitting at Grant’s Park taking shuttle reservations while watching her grandchildren skip rocks in the ocean.
Helen was dedicated to her children, especially her grandchildren. Those who met her walking in town, or driving the shuttle, were sure to hear stories of her grandchildren that were filled with love and adoration, as was seen on the smile on her face and sparkle in her eyes. Helen loved children’s literature and eagerly shared that love with her six grandchildren. Helen spent numerous hours in search of books to share with them. Diligently reading through the Horn Book, in search of the next Newbury Award winner.
Helen was a special woman. She often spoke about her local bike rides and her bike excursion across the country. Helen’s stories of hula hooping would put a smile on your face. Helen had a unique authenticity and her passion for life was infectious. If you had the pleasure of being a passenger on the Bar Harbor Shuttle, you often heard stories of Bar Harbor that included highlighting the best places to visit during your stay. Helen’s stories could entertain those she met for hours, whether it was a detailed account of her biking the southern tier of the country, her biking trip in Puerto Rico or when she went whitewater rafting in Colorado at 71 years of age, no ride went without a personal narrative.
Helen looked forward to traveling to Ireland this year to see her first grandchild Sophia graduate from college. She looked forward to seeing her namesake Grace Helen graduate from high school in May. Helen lived for her grandchildren and will always be remembered for her positive attitude, love for the outdoors, love for Mark Levin and her love for children.
Helen is survived by her sister Mary Jane (Coston) Whitney of Bar Harbor and her daughter Katherine; her brother Paul Coston Jr. of Bar Harbor and his son Stephen; daughter Charlotte (Witham) O’Reilly of Ireland; a son, James Witham Sr., and his wife, Ericka, of Bar Harbor; six grandchildren, Sophia, Beatrice, and Isabel O’Reilly of Ireland and Grace, James and Sylas Witham of Bar Harbor. She was their hero. Helen is also survived by her good friend and walking buddy Bill Murphy of Bar Harbor.
Because of Helen’s love of children and her life mission to create the best life for her grandchildren, in lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Kids Corner Childcare, 81 Mt. Desert St., Bar Harbor, ME 04609. A celebration of life will be held on July 19 (Helen’s birthday) at one of the many places she loved to sit, the time and location will be announced.
Condolences may be expressed at www.jordanfernald.com.