Rae Jean Randlett Knowles, 93 of Marco Island, Florida and Unity, Maine passed away peacefully on March 7, 2021 in Naples, Florida. She was born January 5, 1928 in Hartland, Maine the daughter of Rae and Gwendolyn (Hanson) Randlett. Rae Jean was educated in Hartland schools and was a graduate of Hartland Academy. In 1946 she married Clarence Towle with whom she had one daughter. Upon his tragic death in 1956, she faced the challenge of raising her daughter alone. To support herself and her daughter she held multiple jobs. Rae Jean became the Director of the Hartland School Lunch Program as well as the summer cook for the Commodore Club and later Camp Dexter and Wild Goose Camp for Boys. She also served as hostess at the Lancey House in Pittsfield, Maine.
In 1960 she married Robert (Bob) Knowles. They were a team who together owned and operated several successful businesses. From the early sixties to the late seventies, under their leadership, Unity Raceway became one of the best short tracks in New England. In 1971 they founded Maine X-ray, which at the time of sale served all of northern New England.
Rae Jean served on many boards and civic organizations. She served on the Hartland School Board, was a trustee of Maine Central Institute and in 2008 was inducted into the MCI Hall of Fame. She was a life member of Bethlehem #36 Order of the Eastern Star and Anah Temple #160 Daughters of The Nile.
She loved to host and entertain in their homes and was known for her ability to organize, thus earning the name “Miss Take Charge”. Overnight guests could look forward to a
pan of fresh baked popovers in the morning and there was always room at the table for another guest or two. When in Maine she loved her flower gardens and particularly enjoyed tending the dahlias, feeding the birds and watching the eagles that nested above the house. She was always happy when her great grandson, Randall chauffeured her around the property in the golf cart.
In the early seventies she and Bob bought their first piece of property on Marco Island, it has been their winter home ever since. They moved to Hideaway Beach on Marco Island in 1989. Hideaway Beach and its members held a special place in her heart and she rarely passed up an opportunity to go to the club or take a simple ride around Hideaway Circle which she termed the “Jimmy John.”
Rae Jean is survived by her husband of 60 years Robert (Bob) Knowles, her daughter Ginger Russell and husband, Charles of Naples, FL; granddaughter Amy (McPherson) Starbird and husband, Michael of Pittsfield, ME; great grandson, Randall Starbird of Pittsfield, ME; a special niece, Tammy Higgins of Pittsfield, ME; half sister Daphne Wright and husband, Thomas of Gooseneck Creek, SC; half brother Rae Randlett and wife, Jeanine of Hartland, ME; sister-in-law Joan Connelly and husband, John of Hartland, ME; sister-in-law Jane Bickford and husband, John of Oakland, ME; sister-in-law Terry Houston of Villa Park, CA; as well as many nieces and nephews.
She was predeceased by her parents, Rae and Gwendolyn: her first husband, Clarence: brother, Rogen and son- in-law, Randall McPherson.
Special thanks to her amazing health care provider, Dr. Carlos Portu and to the caring hands at Vitas Hospice facility.
A memorial service will be held in Maine at a later date.
Those who wish may donate in Rae Jean’s memory to Maine Central Institute, 295 Main Street, Pittsfield, Maine 04967 or Lifeflight of Maine, PO Box 899, Camden, Maine 04843 .
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