Becky Renner passed away peacefully in Cape Neddick, Maine on Sunday, July 19, 2020 after a 3.5-year battle with Alzheimer’s. She was at home, surrounded by the love of her daughters, Kristen and Lindsay, and their families.
Becky was born on March 14, 1947 in Mount Holly, New Jersey to William H. Rhawn and Mary (Woodward) Rhawn. The youngest of 4 children, she attended high school in Beverly, NJ. She majored in Textiles and Clothing Design at the University of Rhode Island, where she met her husband, Allen I. Renner. They wed in 1968; Becky graduated from URI in 1969.
Becky loved the ocean, the beach, and, most of all, sea breezes. She spent her childhood summers on Long Beach Island on the Jersey Shore. She was a self-described “tom boy” and “jock” who played basketball and field hockey and was “climbing trees while my friends were out on dates.” She loved the outdoors -- walking, cross-country skiing, kayaking, and bird-watching. In her 60’s, Becky took up stand-up paddle boarding and could often be found at Long Sands Beach riding the waves on her board.
After college, Becky taught home economics in San Antonio, Texas while her husband was stationed there in the Army. After they relocated to the Seacoast area, Becky owned and operated “The Crafty Needle” sewing shop in Dover. She was an accomplished seamstress who designed and made many of her own clothes in the 1960’s and 70’s. She will be remembered for her varied sartorial creations, ranging from tailored suits to Halloween costumes to eighth-grade prom dresses, and even her daughter’s wedding gown.
From 1982 to 2005, Becky and her husband Allen owned and operated clothing stores in Ogunquit and Kennebunkport, first “Sneaks” and later “This Is It.” Becky applied her eye for design and knowledge of fabrics to buying, marketing, and merchandising, while Allen focused on the financial and logistical side of the business. It was a true partnership. After a fire in May of 1982 ravaged the center of Ogunquit, destroying their businesses, Becky and Allen, with partner Billy Leonard, rebuilt the Ogunquit Pharmacy building (which also housed the clothing store) and reopened the following season.
Becky was energetic, organized, and always on the go. These traits served her well when she volunteered in her community. Becky was one of the founders of the South Berwick Strawberry Festival and part of the Organizing Committee in the 1970’s and 80’s. In her role as festival organizer, Becky was tireless and committed, and South Berwick became known as the place to be the last Saturday in June, attracting over 10,000 visitors who came for homemade strawberry shortcake, talented craftspeople, live music, and children’s activities. Becky also contributed to the festival artistically, designing silk-screened logos for festival T-shirts and tote bags in the early 1980s.
After moving to York in 1988, Becky continued to volunteer her time at the First Parish Church in York, where she and her husband, Allen, were both members. Becky helped to organize the annual “Attic Treasures” yard sale and was an integral part of the church’s annual wreath decorating fundraiser.
Becky was an active member of the York Garden Club, where she taught workshops on artistic floral arrangement and won numerous awards for her unique floral and garden designs, including the Barbara Black Award for Artistic Excellence in Design in 2019. Her gardens were featured in the publication In the Garden with Old York Garden Club: What to Grow and How to do It (2009), on open garden tours, and were an inspiration for many budding gardeners. Becky’s collection of unusual azaleas and rhododendrons and her enormous tree peony impressed visitors to her home and brought her joy to the very end.
In addition to gardening, Becky had a lifelong love of photography. Her photos were periodically displayed for sale at the York Art Association and the Barn Gallery in Ogunquit and she won many awards for her photographic renditions of landscapes and architectural details. She particularly enjoyed taking photographs while traveling in Portugal and Italy with her husband and friends.
Becky was predeceased by her husband of 35 years, Allen Renner, who passed away in 2003. She is survived by her two daughters, Kristen Renner Swann of York, ME and Lindsay Renner Schwartz of Stow, MA, sons-in-law Kyle Swann and Jason Schwartz, as well as 5 grandsons, Clyde, Callen, and Cedric Swann and Jacob and Ethan Schwartz. She is also survived by brothers Edward Rhawn of Louisville, KY and William “Hank” Rhawn of Siesta Key, FL. She was predeceased by her sister Sally (Rhawn) Wilkins.
Becky’s family would like to thank her caregivers from Home Instead for their loving and compassionate care and companionship over these past 3 years, as well as Hospice of Southern Maine.
A celebration of Becky’s life will be held in the late summer or early fall (date to be decided). In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the National Audubon Society (www.audubon.org), or the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (www.aspca.org), two causes dear to Becky’s heart.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Becky (Rhawn) Renner, please visit our floral store.