Ninette Ann Piquette Ferm, 66, died unexpectedly on Sept. 25, 2020, at her home. She was born on Feb. 19, 1954, to Edward M. and Estelle D. Piquette of South Hadley, Mass. Not long after, she became “Nin” unless she was not following the rules. She attended South Hadley schools, where she made many lifelong friends and where she met her husband-to-be, William (Bill) Ferm, in junior high school. They were friends throughout high school, started dating in college and married shortly after her graduation in 1975, having celebrated 45 years of marriage this year.
Nin majored in psychology and education at Mount Holyoke College, which she attended as a “townie,” commuting from home, as did Bill, who attended nearby Amherst College while also living in South Hadley. After graduation, she and Bill lived in South Hadley. She taught at the McMahon School in Holyoke, while Bill commuted daily to law school in Boston. Her salary exactly matched his law school tuition, so they made ends meet by working a number of part-time jobs, finding that they really liked working together. Nin’s parents were extremely generous and they ate many meals at their house, and played many rounds of double solitaire.
She loved teaching and most of all her students, and when they moved to Maine, she taught special education at MDES in Northeast Harbor. She left teaching as a formal job when she gave birth to the first of what would be five sons, but she never stopped teaching, working as a stay-at-home mom and keeping her sons and many of their friends enchanted with her love of nature and the world. She left that job, which she loved more than any other, and joined Bill when he formed his own law office in 2002, staying there the rest of her life. They loved being together, at work, at home, doing errands, and, as she used to say: “she liked sleeping with the boss.” (She was the real boss.) She taught the childbirth classes offered at MDI High School for many years and was active in La Leche League for years as well.
She threw herself into being a mom and was involved in her sons’ activities, from Cub Scouts, to field trips, to substitute teaching and, particularly, music. After they had graduated from MDI High School, she remained active as president of the MDI Music Boosters, selling Christmas trees, working on the MDI Marathon Dinner, hosting jazz festivals and, especially, raising the funds for scholarships to enable all music students who chose to attend summer programs to enrich their musicianship. She remained active in the community until the end as a member of the Mount Desert Island Educational Enhancement Fund (MDI EEF), and as warden of elections in the town of Mount Desert — she was looking forward to Nov. 3.
She loved Bill and her sons unconditionally. Bill is so grateful that she consented to marry him and remained a loving wife and companion who filled their time together with caring, adventure and a sense of humor that kept laughter in the world. She was a second mother to many of her sons’ friends and others, and loved all of them back.
Nin was an excellent cook and could fix a meal for three, and on very short notice, be prepared as any number of unexpected guests arrived — all were welcomed and fed. She brought traditional French-Canadian cuisine with her to the marriage and quickly mastered the challenge and art of producing a Scandinavian smörgåsbord. When the boys were young, Nin and Bill grew and raised much of their own food. She took naturally to so much that was involved in their small farm, having a knack for eviscerating a chicken that Bill had just dispatched and plucked (the boys always behaved better after watching her do this!) to assisting ewes when they were lambing, from reaching inside the mother and properly positioning the lamb to provide a smooth and successful birth, to holding the hind legs of a lamb that was not breathing and swinging it in a circle above her head, an effort that often started them breathing.
She is survived by her three sisters: Elaine Richards, of Connecticut, and her sons, Michael, and Christopher (spouse Lisa), Paulette Sammons, of Delaware, and her children, Tina (Mark), Jennifer (Rob) and Matthew (Kim), Louise Piquette-Alley (Bob), and son Lincoln (Heather) and daughter Danielle (Bill), all of MDI, all of whom she loved dearly. She and Louise spent many hours cleaning rentals and housekeeping on MDI, which was a wonderful way for them to work together and get a lot of talking done. She is survived by her husband, Bill, of Mount Desert, their sons, Edward Deane (“Ned”) and his wife, Maria Faust, of Copenhagen, Denmark; Nils and his wife, Nicole, and grandson, Erik, of North Yarmouth; Jacob; William, Jr. (“Billy”) and his wife Shoshona Smith, and grandson, Abel; and Carl, all of Mount Desert; her sister-in-law, Linnea West (John), of Tennessee, and their daughters Vi (Andrew) and Jenny; and brother-in-law, Robert (Bob) Ferm and his son, Bobby and daughter Abby Rose Ferm, all of Massachusetts. She is also survived by an “aunt-in-law,” Betty Swan, and son Mark and daughter Sue, of Connecticut.
She was predeceased by her parents and by a brother-in-law, Martin Sammons, and a sister-in-law, Laurie Rose Ferm. She helped with the care of her father, her mother-in-law, Paulie Johnson, her father-in-law, Deane Ferm, and a very special stepfather-in-law, Bud Johnson.
She loved her friends and we thank each one of them for the joy they brought to her life, and know that she passed that joy on to us, too, and we love you for that. She worked as a housekeeper for Curtis Blake and family for many years, under the watchful eye of her friend, Ruth Mitchell, who, along with husband Bob, are dear friends. She dearly loved JoEllen Quigley of Massachusetts, Carol Richmond, of Washington state, and was proud to be a “Booster Babe” with the Music Boosters.
In lieu of flowers, those who wish to honor Nin are encouraged to do something kind and unexpected for someone as she did so often. Those wishing to make contributions are urged to consider the MDI Music Boosters, MDI EEF (via Maine Community Foundation), the Northeast Harbor Ambulance Service, or the League of Women Voters of Maine. We are sad that she has passed, but we are so fortunate to have had her in our lives and have so many wonderful memories to cherish and reasons she has given us to carry on. A gathering for family and friends will be arranged at a later date when it is safe to do so.
Arrangements in care of Jordan-Fernald, 1139 Main St., Mount Desert. Condolences may be expressed at www.jordanfernald.com.