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Mary Goranites, 92; raised her niece, Olympia Snowe

LEWISTON, Maine -- A funeral service will be held today for Mary Goranites, an aunt of Senator Olympia J. Snowe who raised her orphaned niece along with five children of her own.

Mrs. Goranites, who was 92, died Saturday at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston.

Snowe described the cause of death as congestive heart failure or organ failure.

``She was an inspiration to me because of her devotion to family, to the church and the community," Snowe said. ``She set a high standard. . . . She was a great anchor, an important anchor in my life."

Born in 1913 and educated in Greece, the young woman immigrated to America in 1936 and married James Goranites a year later. Over the years, Mary Goranites worked at the Continental Mill in Lewiston. Her husband was a barber.

Immigrants created a vibrant life in their new land, family members said .

``They worked really, really hard, and they built these communities here and in other states," said Georgia Chomas, one of Goranites's daughters. ``My generation grew up straddling two cultures."

The Goranites family took Snowe in when she was 9 years old. Snowe's mother died when she was 8 years old; her father died about a year later.

Chomas said Mrs. Goranites shared a history with Snowe that influenced their life together.

``My mother's mother -- she lost her mother the same way when she was only 8," Chomas said. ``She had a special relationship with Olympia. She really understood how Olympia, as a little girl, felt when she lost her mother."

James Goranites died in 1963, leaving his wife with six children.

``She worked so hard," Snowe said. ``She persevered."

Mrs. Goranites was a lifelong member of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church and other organizations associated with the Greek-American community.

``She was sort of that thread that was woven through that church's history," Snowe said.

A funeral service will be held today at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox C hurch in Lewiston.

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