WATERVILLE, Maine -- Viola "Vi" Quirion, a longtime employee of C.F. Hathaway Co. and an activist for senior citizens and labor issues, died Sunday at a nursing home in Waterville. She was 77.
Ms. Quirion was employed at the Hathaway shirt plant for 44 years before it closed in 2002. She was a member of the Maine Council of Senior Citizens and the Maine AFL-CIO.
Governor John Baldacci said Ms. Quirion was involved in efforts to keep Hathaway operating and its workers employed, but also remembered her activism in labor issues and in efforts to make cheaper prescription drugs available to seniors.
"She's going to be tremendously missed," Baldacci said. "I think it's important to recognize her as an individual who set a standard, a kind of a role model for us to follow."
In the late 1990s, Ms. Quirion was featured on the CBS program "60 Minutes" as she traveled to Canada to buy prescription drugs with other senior citizens.
In 1999, Ms. Quirion was recognized by US Representative Tom Allen, Democrat of Maine, for her work on prescription drugs. "She never was on welfare; she never collected an unemployment check. She spends nearly a quarter of her $900 monthly income from Social Security on prescription drugs," Allen said at a briefing in Washington on drug coverage bills then before Congress.