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Mainers recall author Beverly Cleary's lasting impact on what would have been her 105th birthday

The author, who passed away last month, wrote children's classics like the "Ramona" and "The Mouse and the Motorcycle" series

MAINE, USA — "Ramona Forever" isn't only the name of a book by Beverly Cleary, it also describes how readers feel about her most famous character.

Cleary was born on April 12, 1916, and died last month at age 104

Her career as a children's author began in 1950 with the book "Henry Huggins," but her most popular books star a mischievous little girl named Ramona.

The Ramona series spans eight books written between 1955 and 1999. They've won awards, been turned into movies, and continue to be read and loved by generations of fans.

The beloved children's author grew up in Portland, Oregon, but it's clear her writing made an impact in Portland, Maine, and for kids everywhere. One of those fans, Mainer Roxanne Quimby, has a special connection to Ramona. 

Credit: AP
FILE - In this April 19, 1998 file photo, Beverly Cleary signs books at the Monterey Bay Book Festival in Monterey, Calif.

Roxanne and Ramona even share the same last name.

If you've heard the Quimby name around Maine, that's because Roxanne Quimby is one of the co-founders of Burt's Bees, the company which makes all-natural hygiene products. Her business success gave her a platform to advocate for environmental causes that matter to her through the "Quimby Family Foundation."

NEWS CENTER Maine asked how she felt about her literary namesake, and she told us:

"I was a great fan of Ramona and her friends as a child. I admired her grit, her determination, and her individuality, although I probably could not have expressed all that in words at the time ... I'm honored that Ms. Cleary selected our last name for her characters."

Roxanne continues to pass along Cleary's legacy, telling us she sent the Ramona stories to her two grandsons "so that the fictional Quimby family would become a part of their childhood memories." 

Cleary also penned another series of books, beginning with "The Mouse and the Motorcycle." The mouse of the title is named Ralph, and he's a speed demon with any kind of remote-controlled toy. His adventures are a family favorite with Dan Stay, who works at Big Moose Harley-Davidson in Portland.

He told us about reading the book with his son, saying:

"We spent the better part of a camping trip with him reciting his version of the story to me, and a night in the tent with him writing it out in his journal the best a 5-year-old can."

You can see that journal entry below. 

Credit: Dan Stay