Catherine Epstein Cutler devoted more than a half century to a remarkable career of voluntary public service in the Bangor area and in eastern Maine.
A trained economist, she devoted herself to improving mental health services and education for the women, children and families of Maine. When she returned to Bangor with her husband Dr. Lawrence Cutler after World War II, she helped organize and lead the effort to persuade the Maine legislature to move mental health services out of the Bureau of Prisons into a separate agency in order to better serve mental health care needs.
Beginning with the Community Chest and helping to lead its development into the United Way, she sought to organize new institutions in order to extend the reach of social services to people whose needs were beyond the scope of existing agencies. She became president of the Family Service Society and a principal founder of the Eastern Maine Guidance Center, leading the merger of those agencies into the Community Health and Counseling Center.
Mrs. Cutler then turned to the role of women in the community. More than 40 years ago she applied for and won a federal government grant to organize the Women's Information and Advisory Service in Bangor, the first agency of its kind in Maine, where she taught women about opportunities in the workforce. In later years, she helped found Spruce Run, a shelter and social services agency in eastern Maine for women and children who are victims of domestic violence.
Together with author May Sarton and photographer Berenice Abbott, she was one of the first three recipients of the University of Maine's Maryann Hartman Awards, which recognize the contributions of women in public service, professional life, and the arts.