News & Events

Lights of Life star purchased in memory of Ken Atcheson

Date: 12/01/2023

Caption: Judy and Ken Atcheson (seated) hold their beloved grandchildren Lillie and Otis. Standing with them are their daughters, Amanda Atcheson and Abbey Clair, along with Abbey’s husband, Derek.  Judy and the family are remembering Ken and supporting others going through the battle with cancer by purchasing the star of the Lights of Life tree in his name.

Presque Isle, Maine (December 1, 2023) —Northern Light AR Gould Hospital is pleased to announce that the star for its annual Lights of Life fundraiser to support local cancer care has been purchased in memory of Kenneth Atcheson, II.
Lights of Life is a tradition that allows people to purchase different color lights in honor or memory of friends, family members, caregivers, and others who have been affected by cancer. Every dollar raised through Lights of Life stays local to support cancer care services in Aroostook County.
Only one star is sold each year, and the person or group for whom it is purchased are the featured honoree for that year’s campaign. This year’s star has been purchased by Judy Atcheson in memory of her husband, who passed away on February 4 after a nearly six-year battle with metastatic colon cancer.
Ken was a much beloved teacher at Caribou High School for three decades. He and his wife Judy graduated from the University of Maine at Presque Isle in 1979 and entered the teaching profession together. After seven years in Lubec, the two returned home to the County to work the rest of their professional careers and raise their daughters, Amanda and Abbey. While he taught history to high school students, Judy could be found teaching third graders in SAD #1.
In addition to teaching, Ken made a difference in the lives of many through his extra commitments both at the school and in the community. He was the advisor for the National Honor Society for many years and helped organize both the Junior Exposition and graduation. He was very active in the State Road Advent Christian Church, where he was a Sunday school teacher and led the Angel Tree Prison Fellowship program for decades. After he retired from teaching in 2018 due to his declining health because of his cancer, he became an active volunteer at AR Gould Hospital. 
Considering how much Ken gave to his community, it seems particularly fitting that his family is honoring him in this way, providing financial support that will help others who find themselves traveling down the same road as they did with the devastating disease of cancer.
“Our family made a commitment when Ken passed to donate to the people and organizations that had been such a support to us during his care, and that is especially true of AR Gould Hospital, particularly the teams in Cancer Care and the Emergency Department,” says Judy. “We were so helped and supported by their attention not only to his medical needs, but to the overall wellbeing of both him and the family.”
She notes that the family really appreciated how much of his care he could get here at home, and that even for the parts of his care that couldn’t be done in Presque Isle, such as liver surgery, the providers and staff at Cancer Care made sure that he was connected to the resources he needed.
“The people in Cancer Care are just wonderful. They are kind and compassionate. Their care extends beyond what you can imagine until you live it,” says Judy. She says that compassion has extended even after Ken’s passing. When she stopped in to donate some gas cards for patients after his death, the staff was incredibly comforting and kind.
“We won’t ever forget it – what they did for Ken and our family,” Judy declares.
Individuals can still purchase lights through the end of December. Lights are being sold for: white, $10; red, $25; green, $50; Blue, $100; orange, $250, purple, $500.  The names of the honorees will be displayed on a plaque in the hallway of Northern Light AR Gould Hospital’s Cancer Care center and be displayed on the hospital website throughout the holiday season.
For more details or to purchase a light, visit