Dr. Hilda Fife, Founder

13 Aug 1903 - 11 Nov 1990

Dr. Hilda M. Fife was born in Greenland, N.H., 13 Aug 1903. She received her B.A. degree from Colby College and M.A. and Ph. D. degrees from Cornell University. She also did graduate work at Boston University and the University of Chicago. She became professor of English at the University of Maine and served on the faculty from 1946 until retirement as professor emerita in 1969. 

Dr. Fife was the founder of the Maine Old Cemetery Association and had been active in the Kittery Maritime Museum and Rice Public Library in Kittery as well as Maine League of Historical Societies and Museums. She died in 1990.

Our Spring 1991 MOCA Newsletter included this memorium to Dr. Fife:

It is with deep regret that we announce the death of Dr. Hilda M. Fife in November, 1990. Hilda was the dedicated founder of MOCA, her background in teaching and her love of history the foundation for action in seeking to protect and preserve the many small cemeteries throughout Maine.

Born in Greenland, New Hampshire, on Aug. 13, 1903, Hilda spent her growing years in Kittery, where she finished high school and started her first teaching in a one-room school. This introduction to education at a different level made her realize she wanted to go to college, so she spent the next four years at Colby College.

She became an Associate Professor at Hampton Institute in Virginia, and later Assistant Professor at Alfred University, then a member of the English staff at the University of Maine, serving on the faculty there from 1946 until her retirement as Professor Emeritus in 1969.

Following her retirement, she devoted much time to the Kittery Historical and Naval Museum, to the Rice Public Library, the Maine League of Historical Societies and Museums, and to the growing MOCA. It was in 1968 that she founded MOCA, along with several other interested friends, at the request of the recently formed Maine League of Historical Societies and Museums amd the interest of Dr. Leon Dean. And it was from that modest beginning that MOCA grew, now recognized as a vita1 force in the effort to protect and preserve the story of people from Maine's colorful history.

Hilda was the recipient of a number of awards, including the Harriette Merrifield Forbes Award from the AGS for outstanding contribution to graveyard studies, and a pewter plaque engraved with a special citation from the MLHSM as founder of MOCA. A special resolve dated May 17, 1976, signed by Dan Stevens, President, and six past presidents, provides that the name or Hilda M. Fife shall appear as Founder/President on all documents and newsletters of the Association.

It was Hilda who began the Newsletter, and wrote and prepared each edition for many years, not satisfied unless each artlcle was absolutely correct in both content and grammar. She enjoyed telling the stories of MOCA activities:, and commending these who worked to rehabilitate the small cemeteries that were in danger of being covered over or vandalized.

Hilda's warm smile, sensitive nature, and dedication to tho cause of MOCA will be missed by MOCA members, but not forgotten. A written tribute from Jonathan McKallip in 1985 concluded: "Everyone of us in MOCA salutes you, Hilda M. Fife, for touching our lives in so many ways.


Dedicated to the Preservation of Maine's Neglected Cemeteries since 1968.
Maine Old Cemetery Association, PO Box 641, Augusta, ME 04332-0641
MOCA is a non-profit Maine corporation and is tax exempt under the provisions of Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

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