BAR HARBOR – Virginia Hodgkins Wheaton McFarland died on Nov. 11, 2016. She was born in Bar Harbor on Aug. 26, 1926, the first of three daughters to Winfield B. and Charlotte (Gabrielson) Hodgkins. Virginia grew up in Bar Harbor and spent a lot of her childhood time at the Greenway Court Estate near Compass Harbor where her grandfather, Conrad Gabrielson, was the head gardener and caretaker. She graduated from Bar Harbor High School in 1944, and in 1945 she married Carl Wheaton, who had also grown up in Bar Harbor. Virginia and Carl had a daughter, Peggy, and a son, Steve. In the early 1950s, they divorced. Virginia worked at the Jackson Lab and later at MDI Hospital. In 1979, she married Chauncey McFarland.
The history of Bar Harbor was of great interest to Virginia, and she enjoyed sharing her considerable knowledge by volunteering at the Bar Harbor Historical Society.
Virginia had a great love for nature. She marveled at the unique design of each snowflake as millions of them, one by one, lay down a magical pristine carpet of white purity over the landscape. She also loved the ocean and found joy in the sand patterns of the tidal zone. Nature was frequently the topic of her poetry, much of which flowed to the back of a used envelope or some other random piece of scrap paper.
Although Virginia never attended college, she had great respect for knowledge and education. She made sure that her kids got an early introduction to the Jesup Library, and she read to them frequently. Both her daughter and her son had long careers as teachers.
Virginia was a highly egalitarian woman who strongly believed in equal rights and opportunities for all people. She saw value in and had respect for every human being.
Virginia also loved her cats. One of them, Sylvester, roamed Bar Harbor and took quite a shine to the bridal suite at the Motor Inn (now the Bar Harbor Inn). She got used to the phone calls: “Mrs. Wheaton, your cat is here again. Could you come down and get him?” Virginia was quite surprised the first time she retrieved Sylvester, as he lounged in the middle of the king sized bed, but she enjoyed, with a chuckle, his obvious good taste.
Virginia loved her grandchildren. She enjoyed taking them for walks to Bar Island or the Shore Path, playing Scrabble or Parcheesi at her kitchen table, and baking treats like “Molasses Crinkles” for them.
Music brought joy to Virginia, and starting in junior high, dances were her favorite social activity. Although she enjoyed classical music, her favorite genre was the Big Band sound, epitomized by the likes of Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey. Late in her life, unable to walk and nearly blind, she would smile, while bobbing her head and tapping her finger in time to a familiar tune.
During the final several years of her life, Virginia suffered from dementia. She lived at the Sonogee Care Facility, where she received kind and compassionate care from the staff.
Virginia was predeceased by her parents, both of her sisters, Dorothy Wooley and Barbara Lambert, her second husband, Chauncey McFarland, her daughter Peggy Wheaton Calderwood Collins, and one niece Susan Wooley MacIntosh. She is survived by her first husband, Carl Wheaton, her son Steve (Mary Giltner) Wheaton, five nieces and nephews, including Kathy Wooley Kenyon; three grandchildren, Christy Calderwood (Jim) Marchand, Matt (Shannon) Calderwood, and Elliott (Sarah Mims) Wheaton, and six great-grandchildren (soon to be seven). She is also survived by her sister-in-law Linda McFarland Palfry and other members of Chauncey McFarland’s family, including Karen McFarland, Linda McFarland, and Linda McFarland Olsen. Clayton Collins, husband of her deceased daughter Peggy, also survives.
After cremation, Virginia’s remains will be interred with her parents at Ledgelawn Cemetery. In accordance with Virginia’s wishes, there will be no memorial service.