‘Just genuinely nice people’ — Couple killed in crash remembered

Carol and Dale Honaberger

Carol and Dale Honaberger

By Gail Geraghty
Staff Writer
With their warm, open and generous spirits, and the beautiful lamps they sold from their Main Street, Bridgton, home, it could never be said that Carol and Dale Honaberger hid their light under a bushel basket.
They were, each in their own unassuming way, actively involved in community life, sharing of their time and talents and loves.
“They were our friends, and the friends of many,” said Bob Ryan, president of the Bridgton Community Band, where Dale was a longtime member and past president.
They even shared Holly, their Golden Retriever therapy dog, with children in a reading program at the Bridgton Public Library; and shared Holly’s predecessor, Brooke, in the same way before that.
No wonder, then, that so many who knew them were stunned when they heard the news that both Carol, 70, and Dale, 81, died within hours of one another on Thursday, Jan. 15, in a two-car crash on Route 302 in Casco. Police are still investigating what caused Carol, who was driving their 2000 Dodge Caravan west at Watkins Flat, to lose control and cross the centerline, colliding with a 2014 Chevy Equinox driven by Allen Estes, 66, of Standish.
No wonder, as well, at the outpouring of concern from so many over the fate of Holly, who was in the minivan with the Honabergers when the crash happened at 1:50 p.m. Holly suffered a broken leg, and is now recovering from surgery at Norway Veterinary Hospital (See sidebar, this page).
The Honabergers operated the Lamp and Shade Shop for over 25 years from a converted garage of their 209 Main Street home. Dale did the wiring, and Carol crafted the meticulous and elegantly-decorated shades for which the shop was known.
Many people in the greater Bridgton area own one or several lamps made by the Honabergers, said Bridgton Library Director Holly Hancock, who owns several and has given others as gifts. “Their lamp and shade shop was just a work of art,” Hancock said. “Both Carole and Dale were just genuinely nice people. And talented.”

Hancock said Carol approached her in 2007 with the idea of starting the therapy reading program with Brooke, their fourth Golden Retriever, who received her training working in a nursing home. When the program began, it was the first therapy reading dog program in the region.
“She would just sit, and occasionally she would help with a word,” Hancock said of Carol, who let Brooke, and then Holly, take center stage during the weekly reading sessions for children. Despite their grief at losing their close family companion, the Honabergers organized a special memorial service for the children when Brooke died at age 11 in 2011. After a time they adopted Holly, another therapy dog, so the program could continue.
When Carol and Holly didn’t show up that Jan. 15 afternoon for the weekly reading program, Hancock thought at first it was just a result of miscommunication. As the Assistant Chief of Fire and Rescue for Casco, Hancock had been on the phone shortly after the Casco accident, providing direction on procedures to Animal Control Officer Jessica Jackson for caring for an injured dog whose owners had died in an accident. It wasn’t until Hancock talked to a medic that she learned the identities of the accident victims.
Hancock said she was so upset she had to leave work early that day.
Dale was a bugler dating back to his Army days, and played the American baritone for the Bridgton Community Band. He performed with the Bridgton Brass Ensemble and served as volunteer bugler for many years at Bridgton’s Veterans Day services.
“He was always happy to do it,” said Dennis Moynihan of the local American Legion Post #67. “We’ll miss him — he was a good man.”
As a member of the brass ensemble, Dale also performed at memorial services if a family requested it. Bridgton Community Band President Bob Ryan said, “Dale was a great fan — fanatic is not too strong a word — of marches,” by Sousa, Hall and others. Both the Honabergers were dedicated to keeping the band’s summer concert season and other events going over the years, he said.
Ryan said the Bridgton Community Band has a good idea what kind of music Dale would want at their memorial service on Sunday, Feb. 22 at 2 p.m. at the First Congregational Church on South High Street in Bridgton. He is, however, seeking help from organizations that Carol was involved in, to find music suitable for honoring her. Anyone with suggestions may call him at 647-5266.
“At 70 years young, Carol had just returned from a two-week safari trip to Africa,” Ryan marveled. Ivy Jordan, of Water’s Edge Gallery on Main Street, said Carol brought African beads back from her trip, and asked Jordan to help her make them into a necklace.
In no time at all, Jordan said she felt like she’d met a new friend. “They invited me to come have tea at their home. Now, how nice is that? They were really wonderful people.”

Holly Dog —
‘I think she had more work to do’

LOVING RESPONSE — The Bridgton Library’s Holly Dog lifts her head to accept the affection of Dr, Todd Gauger following surgery for the broken ankle she suffered in the Jan. 15 crash that killed her owners, Carol and Dale Honaberger.

LOVING RESPONSE — The Bridgton Library’s Holly Dog lifts her head to accept the affection of Dr, Todd Gauger following surgery for the broken ankle she suffered in the Jan. 15 crash that killed her owners, Carol and Dale Honaberger.

By Gail Geraghty
Staff Writer
Perhaps the best testament of how many lives were touched by Carol and Dale Honaberger of Bridgton is told by the dog they left behind.
Within hours of the Route 302, Casco crash that took both the Honaberger’s lives on Jan. 15, calls and Facebook postings started coming in to Norway Veterinary Hospital from people asking about Holly Dog, the 10-year-old Golden Retriever who is the reading therapy dog at Bridgton Library. Holly broke her ankle in the crash, and suffered multiple bumps and bruises.
Her biggest trial, however, has been emotional, according to Kristen Gauger, the hospital’s co-owner. And on that score, Holly couldn’t be in a better place. Dr. Todd Gauger and Kristen, his wife, are longtime friends of the Honabergers, and have decided to adopt Holly. Not only that, Kristen — who provides Reiki, massage and crystal therapy for Holly and any other of her husband’s four-legged patients if needed — said Tuesday that she’d love it if Holly could eventually resume her weekly reading therapy sessions with the children — “if that is what Holly decides to do.”
Holly is expected to make a complete recovery from her physical injuries, said Kristen. As to why she lived through the crash, while her owners did not, Kristen said, “I think she had more work to do.”
On Tuesday, a Bridgton resident and Honaberger friend even came to the hospital to read Holly a story.
“Another friend gave her new toys and she was happily squeaking them and tossing them around,” said Kristen. “Every day she wags her tail a little bit more.”
Kristen believes that Holly knows her owners aren’t coming back. Initially, Kristen said Holly looked up anxiously anytime anyone entered her space — as if to see if it was Carol or Dale — but in the past few days she has stopped doing that.
Since all of Holly’s medical expenses have been covered by the Gaugers, Norway Veterinary Hospital has begun a “Holly Fund” in response to the many offers to help pay for her care. At the request of the Honaberger’s family, “the fund will be used for the care of animals in unfortunate circumstances with financial hardships,” Kristen said.
Donations can be sent to: The Holly Fund, c/o Norway Veterinary Hospital, P.O. Box 273, Norway, ME 04268.
Kristen said it will ultimately be up to Holly to decide if the home she shares with her husband will be her “forever home.” If it appears she might be happier

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