Muriel Ann (Pennant) Hoyt, 89, of Chamberlain, passed away peacefully on June 16 in Boothbay Harbor.
She was born in Tacoma, Washington to Andrew and Jane Pennant. She was pre-deceased by her husband of 41 years, William Hoyt Jr., and daughters Jane Hoyt and Margaret Hoyt Guinasso.
She is survived by her son William Hoyt III of Chamberlain and his companion Evelin Brown of Edgecomb; and daughters Elizabeth Harris and her husband Irwin of Bakersfield, California; and Anna Lyon and her husband George of Wayne; grandchildren Aaron Harris and his wife Jackie; Sean Harris and his fiancé Taylor Binder; Joel Lyon and his wife Rachel; Katie Lyon and her fiancé Keith Butler; Charlie Guinasso and Jennifer Guinasso; and great grandchildren Abby Harris, Nina Harris and Cameron Lyon; nephews Jimmy Wingard, Larry Wingard, Jack Pennant III, Richard Pennant and William Schrum, nieces Cathy Bauer, Jean Wall, Margorie Conklin and Pam Johnson.
Muriel was most proud of her work fighting infectious diseases, first for the State of Oregon and, later, for the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, where she worked on a number of projects, notably, an extensive hepatitis A vaccine test study.
This work also took her to Africa four times. She was invited to join a World Vision emergency medical team in Ethiopia during the famine of the early 1980s. While at the CDC, she was assigned to Somalia, during the civil unrest that witnessed the killing of Red Cross workers she worked with, Swaziland and, lastly, Lesotho, where she served in the Peace Corps after retirement from the CDC.
Whenever she had an opportunity, Muriel loved to travel. In addition to Africa, a favorite, she loved to visit the UK, specifically, Wallasey, England, where her parents came from, Shetland, where her father’s family came from, and Ireland, where her husband’s family came from. She even single-handedly brought the five rambunctious kids, ranging from kindergarten to seventh grade, to Shetland and England. Late in life, she also traveled to Italy and Russia and held out hope for a trip to Egypt and a return to Ethiopia.
Muriel was not afraid to explore new territory and enjoyed moves from various cities in Washington state to New York City and Los Angeles and, eventually, Portland, Oregon while supporting her husband’s career in television news. Later, he supported hers with moves to Columbus, Ohio, Dover, Delaware and Atlanta, Georgia. In her retirement, Muriel settled into a bi-coastal lifestyle, living half the year in Pemaquid, Maine and the other half in Depoe Bay, Oregon. She slowed down a bit in the past few years and remained in Maine.
No matter where the family lived, Maine was always in the summer plans. Muriel would load up the station wagon with the five kids and head east to the 1812 Hoyt family farmhouse in Pemaquid, where Bill Hoyt’s aunt, Elizabeth Hoyt, stayed in the summers. With vacation limitations, Bill would fly to meet the family on the other end. The long drives featured stops all over the United States in an effort to expose the children to the many wonders of this great nation.
The Maine house itself was in a time warp, having become a summer home in the 1890s, when Muriel’s grandmother-in-law tragically died young. This meant living in a house that was never modernized and remained without electricity or running water. It was always a fun fact for friends that the house featured a four-seater outhouse: two bigs and two littles. Muriel knew that living rough in a large house was a wonderful down-to-earth summer experience for the kids who were exposed to modern city lifestyles the rest of the year. And, she was inspired by Elizabeth, an economics professor at Iowa State University, who devoted much of her life and career to working in Africa and bettering the lives of many people there.
Elizabeth also donated the oceanfront land for the La Verna Preserve, which was originally part of the Hoyt property. This donation to the Nature Conservancy resulted in many headaches for Muriel who was constantly having to fight the massive organization in court to uphold the spirit and the intent of the Elizabeth’s donation. Thankfully, after more than 30 years of legal battles with the Nature Conservancy, the land was finally transferred to the Pemaquid Watershed Association and the land is becoming the nature preserve Elizabeth had always intended it to be.
She raised five children, and, once they reached school age in the 1960s, she embarked on her college education, something that was not available for her when she was young and married so soon after high school. At age 43, she earned a Bachelor of Science from the University of Oregon School of Nursing (now Oregon Health Science Center) and became a registered nurse. She soon transitioned to working in public health for the State of Oregon. It was there she wrote the rules that governed nursing homes and patient care, an accomplishment of which she was extremely proud. She later earned a Master of Public Administration from Portland State University.
The family would like to thank the staff at the Gregory Wing and Safe Havens at St. Andrew’s Village in Boothbay Harbor for their heartfelt care for Muriel in her final years.
Muriel was a parishioner at All Saints Parish. A funeral Mass is planned for 11 a.m. on Monday, June 24th at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Newcastle, preceded by a Rosary at 10:30 a.m. in the old church. A Celebration of Life is being planned for Muriel’s birth month of September. Please contact the family for details on that as they become available.
Arrangements are under the direction and care of the Strong-Hancock Funeral Home, 612 Main Street, Damariscotta, ME. Condolences, and messages for her family, may be expressed by visiting: www.StrongHancock.com.