Cornish-Francine O’Donnell (Wilfert), 65, was happiest walking in the woods, digging in the dirt, searching for sea treasures, watching the sunrise or frolicking with an ever present family of rescue pups. She always marched to her own drummer.
On August 11, 2019 Francine moved on from this earthly life to join the endless,
wondrous universe, the great mystery that always intrigued her.
Born on Munjoy Hill in Portland, Maine, the daughter of Thomas B. O’Donnell and
Cecile (Ledoux) O’Donnell, Francine was a keen listener and an astute observer of
nature. Wise beyond her years, at an early age she possessed an abounding sense of
wonder that never left her. Her insatiable curiosity remained a constant throughout her
She married Greg Wilfert in 1981 and together they shared a life of adventure. They
enjoyed traveling abroad just as much as navigating the country backroads in their
airstream, the Peapod. In February, on a whim, they hopped in the car and meandered
down the east coast, loosely planning each new day. Free and easy was their style.
Francine and Greg restored several homes, cottages and commercial buildings and
helped revive the small town of Cornish, Maine. They had a common goal of leaving
things a little better than when they found them.
Together they hiked, biked, skied, snowshoed, kayaked, canoed and spent countless
hours exploring the islands of Casco Bay. They always packed a hearty lunch that was
usually gone before the adventure began.
Francine sought to excel in everything she undertook, from teaching 1st grade in
Westbrook, to working up the ranks in the corporate world at UNUM, building The
Cornish Trading Company into a nationally recognized antiques and design center, and
finally, obtaining her real estate license and making her mark in the Greater Portland
real estate market at Vitalius Real Estate Group. Throughout her life she also donated
her talents to a number of nonprofit organizations. In each undertaking she was known
for her professionalism, integrity and tenacity.
Francine found her greatest joy in the activities outside of her professional life. She was
devoted to the protection of the environment and all creatures great and small. Whether
through financial support, or adopting dogs in need, rescuing was a prime motivation.
About 10 years ago she taught herself the art and science of organic vegetable
gardening. She created beautiful, productive gardens and was quick to share her
bounty with friends or those in need. She established a small self-serve vegetable stand
in Scarborough and donated the proceeds to the Good Shepherd Food Bank. She was
passionate about helping to end food insecurity in Maine.
Francine was known for her style, design skills and entrepreneurial spirit. She loved
transforming spaces for her own enjoyment or for clients who sought her eclectic flair.
She courageously participated in 2 cutting-edge clinical trials through Dana Farber
Boston, helping advance the science and treatment of multiple myeloma, a bone
marrow cancer. She hoped her contribution would help extend the lives of others and lead to a cure.
In addition to her husband Greg Wilfert of Portland and Cornish, ME, Francine is
survived by her sister, Jean Cagianello, of Coventry, CT; her brother, Tom O’Donnell, of
Portland, ME; her nieces, Terese, Corine and Bernadette; nephew, Sean; several great nieces and nephews; many cousins; and a number of close friends. She will be missed
by her canine companions, Karma, Grace, Sprout and Basil.
The family would like to thank the team at New England Cancer Specialists led by Dr.
Christian Thomas. He was more than a physician; he was a kind friend & advocate.
Francine will be remembered for her wisdom and wit, a fearless warrior with a tender
heart. In her memory donations may be made to the Animal Welfare Society in West
Kennebunk, Maine or the Good Shepherd Food Bank.
A memorial service will be held on September 21, 2019, 10:30 AM, in The Spurwink
Congregational Church at 533 Spurwink Avenue in Cape Elizabeth. A reception will
immediately follow in Sprague Hall at 1 Charles E Jordan Road in Cape Elizabeth. All
“I am going to make everything around me more beautiful, that will be my life.”
~Elsie de Wolfe
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