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Pearl Hamlin, 108; was teacher, seamstress

DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine -- Pearl M. Hamlin, perhaps the oldest resident of a state with one of the oldest populations, died Sunday at a Dover-Foxcroft nursing home, less than a month before she would have turned 109.

She was born in Willimantic on Feb. 14, 1897, weeks before William McKinley succeeded Grover Cleveland as president. Aside from a few years spent in Holyoke, Mass., and Bangor, she spent her life in Piscataquis County.

Her son Robert, of Milo, said he suspected for some time that his mother was the oldest Mainer but could never find out for sure.

''We asked our legislators, but they don't keep records in Augusta on people's ages," he said.

Census data shows that Maine, with a median age of 38.6, has the third-oldest population, behind only West Virginia and Florida.

A graduate of Milo High School, Mrs. Hamlin was a part-time schoolteacher for several years. She was an excellent seamstress and participated in clubs and church activities.

She lived independently until 105, when she went into an assisted-living facility.

''She was never sick. She had a constitution of iron," said her grandson, Neil, a lawyer in Milo. He said his grandmother always attributed her longevity to ''good genes."

He and Robert Hamlin agreed that Mrs. Hamlin's even-tempered nature may have been the key to her long life.

''Whatever situation she was in, she made the best of it," her 83-year-old son said. ''When my dad died in '68, she made the best of it. When she moved into senior citizens' housing or had to give up driving, she didn't complain.

''These people who fight things like that, they end up having to do them anyway and all they accomplish is to make life miserable for themselves and make everyone else unhappy."

Mrs. Hamlin was in good shape physically and mentally until around Christmas, when her health began to decline.

In addition to her son Robert and her grandson, she leaves another son, Carl, of Milo, and seven other grandchildren.

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