OLD ORCHARD BEACH – Residents of Old Orchard Beach are mourning Cheryl Rague, a mother of four, a committed citizen and teacher, who died last week after a three-year battle with scleroderma.
Rague, 49, died at home on Feb. 5. A Mass of Christian burial was held Monday at St. Margaret’s Church in Old Orchard Beach, and faculty and students at the town’s schools were released early in order to attend the service.
In addition, on Feb. 7, members of the girls varsity basketball team at the high school dedicated their last home game to Rague by asking attendees to wear lime green T-shirts, socks and pins in her honor. Lime green was Rague’s favorite color.
According to the national Scleroderma Foundation, the condition is a type of autoimmune disease that occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys healthy body tissue.
After her diagnosis, Rague, along with lots of family and friends, took part in the annual Scleroderma Walk fundraiser, which is held in Portland. In addition, she did a lot to educate the community about the disease.
Rague not only raised four children, she was also an educational technician at both Jameson Elementary and Loranger Middle schools in Old Orchard Beach. She served on the town’s school board before it joined Regional School Unit 23, as well as on the Town Council.
Gary Curtis, a close family friend and chairman of the RSU 23 board, said Rague was “a real lady whose loss we mourn, but whose life we celebrate.
“The RSU 23 family, and especially those of us in Old Orchard Beach, are saddened by the loss of Cheryl Rague, a mom, sister, aunt, teacher, friend and colleague,” Curtis added. “Cheryl served the children of Old Orchard Beach for many years and always put the best interests of those in her care ahead of all else. Our prayers and thoughts are with her family.”
Another friend of Rague’s, Stephanie Moutsatsos, who helped organize a benefit for Rague and her family this past fall, called her “an amazing person with a devastating disease that robbed her of the use of her body.”
But, Moutsatsos said, “her energy, enthusiasm and commitment to this community will continue through the lives of her children. They are her greatest and most cherished accomplishment.”
Nikki Duplisea, the assistant recreation director in Old Orchard Beach, who also helped organize the benefit, became friends with Rague as her four children grew up and took part in the town’s various recreation offerings.
In a prior interview Duplisea said, “(Rague’s) children show what a great person she really (was) as they are all so happy, gifted and loved.”
According to her obituary, Rague was born in Boston and earned a bachelor’s degree in business from Southeastern Massachusetts University. When she first came to Maine, Rague was a property manager for Northland Property in Portland for many years.
In addition to her service to the community, Rague’s obituary said she loved spending time at the family’s lake house on Little Sebago. Her other special interests included photography, creating home-cooked meals for her family, reading and listening to music.
Rague was also the quintessential sports mom, attending her children’s many sporting events.
Rague’s mother, two daughters, two sons, sister, brother, former husband Michael A. Rague, and several nieces and nephews all survive her.