Fly fishing

Obituary: Frances “Fanny” Charles Bibeau

Frances “Fanny” Charles Bibeau

PORTLAND – Frances Charles Bibeau passed away peacefully on August 4, 2022 at Cedars. She was 93 years old.

Frances was born September 26, 1928 in South Portland to Arthur and Violet Burnham. In 1946, she graduated from Scarborough High School, where she was a member of numerous clubs and teams, especially enjoying her membership in the basketball and cheerleading teams and the 4-H club. She went to Westbrook College, where she earned her business degree.

As a child, she spent her summers at Thomas Pond’s family camp in Casco, where she eventually met her soul mate, Robert Bibeau. After a happy courtship, Robert and Frances married and lived for several years on Vaughn Street in Portland, while she worked at the Portland Water District and Robert at a Cadillac dealership in Falmouth. In 1959 they moved to North Windham to start their own business, Bibeau’s Fly Shop, where Frances worked alongside the equal in business and fishing Robert. She and Robert grew their business, which became a popular meeting place for anglers and anglers to tell great fishing tales of the Sebago Lake area. The Bibeau Killer, a streamer fly created by Robert, has become a mainstay in local fly boxes, its red head a tribute to Frances’ red hair. She enjoyed seeing the many photos of her clients’ catches displayed on the wall and jokingly said they were all taken on the Bibeau Killer. She and Robert taught fly tying classes together for the better part of a decade, and after Robert passed away she continued for at least another decade. She said the years they spent building their business and tying flies together were some of their best.

Growing up, Frances had an adventurous spirit that followed her into adulthood. She told stories of her childhood on Broadturn Road, where her father worked on a small farm and a blacksmith shop. One summer, Frances asked her father for permission to participate in the “Powder Puff,” an all-women car race at Beech Ridge Speedway. When her father quickly turned down the request, Frances signed up for the race anyway under the alias “Candy Irish”, another nod to her red hair and heritage. She ran well and successfully avoided detection from her father. That sense of adventure continued with his family outings. On many occasions, Frances would pack her family, all the fishing gear and a home-cooked boiled dinner and drive to her favorite fishing spot. Other times, she would buy Amato’s Italian sandwiches for the family and head to New Hampshire’s White Mountains for a day of hiking and exploring.

Living in Windham on seven acres of land, Frances and her family cultivated two huge gardens, raised chickens (before they were fashionable), including Archie the rooster, as well as cats too numerous to count. The “Turnip Man” showing up with his tractor to plow the fields each spring has become an annual rite. No payments were ever exchanged, just turnips and plowing for hand-tied quality streamers. Frances was a resourceful Mainer, baking desserts for her family most nights, canning hundreds of jars of jam, tomatoes, green beans, piccalilli relish and other bounty from the gardens. She was also an unsung chemist, dying off bucktails in every color of the rainbow to satisfy her fly-tying customers. You just had to place the order and come back in two days.

One of Frances’ greatest passions was fishing, and the annual family outing to Russell’s Motor Lodge on Rangeley Lake was among her favorites. During those vacations, Frances cooked wonderful breakfasts, including her famous blueberry turnovers, enjoyed great family dinners, and fished all over Lake Rangeley in between. When the fishing was over, the horseshoe tournaments were legendary and the poker games often went too late into the night. Frances came to the gaming table with her yellow purse full of coins, affectionately nicknamed the “chest”. Over the years many more family fishing trips would be taken in the Rangeley, Sebago, Moosehead, New York and Colorado area.

On her 80th birthday, Frances sat in Field Box seats at Fenway Park and watched her beloved Red Sox take on the Yankees in late September. She smiled all the time. Frances was a New England sports fan and the Sox were the favorites. Watching the Sox win it all in 2004 was an absolute thrill.

Frances had endless love for her family and was predeceased by her husband Robert and siblings Charles, William and Esther. She is survived by her daughter Rochelle (David) of South Casco, her son Bobby of South Casco and her son Arthur (Deborah) of Portland as well as her grandchildren Robyn (Mike), Catrina, Sam and Henry, and great- grandchildren Isabella and Cillian. The family would like to thank Les Cèdres for their care and compassion, especially over the past few weeks. The family is also grateful to Hospice of Southern Maine for their help and guidance. Visiting time will be Wednesday, August 10, 9-10 a.m., at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church, 919 Roosevelt Trail, Windham, a Christian burial mass will follow at 10 a.m. Online condolences can be expressed on DolbyBlaisSegee. com.

Memorial donations can be made to:

Les Cèdres – Activity Fund

630 Ocean Avenue

Portland, ME 04103

Southern Maine Hospice

390 U.S. Route 1

Scarborough, Maine 04074

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