NORTHPORT, Maine — Leone 'Kitty' Harriman was one of the first Mainers to succumb to the coronavirus earlier this year. According to the Maine CDC, 146 Mainers have now died from the virus. Nearly seven months later, thousands of dollars have been raised for scholarships to help Harriman's memory live on.
Harriman, Melissa Staple's 71-year-old mother, was the 35th Mainer to die from the coronavirus. She was at the Tall Pines long-term care facility in Belfast recovering from an infection.
Harriman tested positive for COVID-19 just a few days before she was discharged.
"Unfortunately, the symptoms came on fierce on the 17th of April and she passed away unexpectedly the 19th of April," Staples said.
Her daughter started a Facebook group to remember those who died from COVID-19, and also give family members who couldn't hold funerals a public forum where they could grieve their loved ones.
"We are going into the time when you have your first holiday first milestones of major events and a loved one isn't there with you," Staples said.
Harriman was a native of Northport, which is just south of Belfast. She was known as a caring person who helped others, and her daughter wants her mother's legacy to live on in the younger generation of this community.
Using nearly $5,000 in donations following Harriman's death, Staples started a scholarship fund in her mother's name for college students planning to go into the health field.
Brooke Richards, a freshman at the University of Massachusetts majoring in Kinesiology, was one of the scholarship recipients.
"It was really cool to be individually selected for this one. I didn't know where this was coming from and one of my guidance counselors brought my name into it," Richards said.
Richards played varsity field hockey at Belfast Area High School and is the goalie for the UMass team. She hopes to one day work with students as an athletic trainer.
Two scholarships will be awarded to Richards and a University of Maine Nursing student in December. The hope is that the scholarships will be a lasting gift to students who plan to help others in the medical field.
There have been other tributes to her mom. An engraving in a brick at the Belfast footbridge displays Harriman's name at the National Covid 19 remembrance ceremony. The event held in Washington, D.C. earlier this month honored the more than 200,000 Americans who lost their lives to covid.
To contact Melissa Staples about donations to the Leone 'Kitty' Harriman Scholarship, click here.