Class of 1953 Winter 2020 Class Note

Nancy Schott Plaisted

Embedded in my cluttered office, with the September sun and 70 degrees outside, I’m writing to you people who are reading this in the throes of winter, bundled by the fire with snowflakes in the air. (Or to the lucky ones in the tropics or farther south!)


Our 66th Reunion was held August 27 in Freeport at the Harraseeket Inn, with 20 classmates attending (plus spouses, relatives, and friends). It was great seeing/talking/eating with one another. And we’ll meet again next year.


The treasurer’s report is as follow: Class Fund balance was $3,686.58. A vote was taken to move $1,000 to the Alumni Association as a donation and $500 to the 1953 Class Scholarship Fund, also as a donation.


Owen McCarthy ’10 was the guest speaker at our Reunion, and he spoke about his business. He’s the president of MedRhythms, a neuro-rehab company that exists to restore the lives of those afflicted by neurologic injury or disease, using the power of neurologic music theory. He received his master’s degree from Harvard Business School, and also serves on the UMaine Board of Visitors.


Helen Strong Hamilton, our longtime class president, of Exeter, NH, just keeps going, especially to the Highland Games the past 42 years at Loon Mountain. She couldn’t say enough about the music, the bagpipes, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Band, and more. She also takes day trips, trips to UMaine for Homecoming, and other events, trips to friends.


Ron Bishop, of Cornelius, NC, had a “wicked cold” when I called, but he and Lorna were planning to go to Gatlinburg, TN, for a week in October to a huge craft fair, as he called it. “No more pounding with a hammer” for Habitat for Humanity in Guatemala, he’s walking a lot now. For example: 18,000 steps, 71/2 miles, 21/2 hours on his 87th birthday in September.   He also mentioned the 1800s one-horse family farm in Stockton Springs, where he used to mow. Now they live in a senior citizen community with nice sidewalks. Note: Ron would like our next reunion to be on the Orono campus in September with its students and activities.


George Weatherbee and his wife, Rita Yardumian Weatherbee ’54G, of Orono, had made plans to go to Reunion, but said “sometimes things don’t go the way you want them to.” He spoke of William ’79, their son, 62, ill with stomach cancer for two years, who died two months ago. So sad to hear. George then went on to say how he was born on a farm, spent 16 years at a one-room schoolhouse, then Bangor High, and of the old days, “much happier, nicer then,” he said. I agreed, but give me indoor plumbing, electricity, etc.


Hank and Dawn Miller Woodbrey, of Orono, “weren’t there” when I said to Hank I didn’t see them at Reunion. I laughed at his dry wit. They’re living in a cottage at Dirigo Pines with plenty of room, he said. Hank, a retired dentist, is still young at 87 (88 in March). He went to Standish High —“doesn’t exist anymore,” he said, “Bonney Eagle now.” No long trips, he said. He gets his grandchildren behind the wheel.


We learned, sadly, of the death of Carol Prentiss Mower just before Thanksgiving. Carol had recently moved to Dirigo Pines, a few miles from her former Orono home. Carol was a loyal and active alumna, and class treasurer for over 40 years. She was also a faithful Patriots fan, and always wished that Tom Brady would come see her.


I do want to extend our heartfelt wishes to classmate Cynthia Cowan Dunlap, on the September death of her husband, Robert, 97, a retired UMaine chemistry professor. Bob and Cindy resided at Dirigo Pines.


Peggy Given White, of Reading, MA, winters, summers in Sebago, has also moved, about 1 1/2 miles, after living some 53 years in an 11-room house. Peggy said I could print her new address of her Royal Barry Wills six-room home, at 462 Summer Avenue, in Reading, MA 01867, same phone. It has a “huge cellar,” she said, with “tortured trees and ‘gumdrop’ bushes.” (Can you picture that?) Also, loads of plants, but Peggy’s not a gardener, she said. And the garage has to be moved because she has to make an 8-point turn to get out of the driveway.


Dee Draper Weidemeyer, of Clearwater, FL, was back home from Cundys Harbor, a family summer place for years. She said maybe she’ll be at our 67th Reunion next year. Let’s hope so. She’s a great-grandmother of three, soon to be one of four. She was one of 10 classmates to graduate from Cornish High School! So small, she said. Dee does get out in the yard.


Dave Beppler, of State College, PA, has also downsized and moved next door. “I went to Maine for two weeks, a wonderful two weeks,” he said. “The kids, five of the six, had it all planned, did all of the arrangements: I ate what they ate, slept where they slept, went where they went (Vermont, Casco Bay area, Sebec Lake, saw so many of the Wyman family” (Dave was once married to classmate Trudy Wyman, now deceased.). Dave is mostly trying to “relate to children in the community, doing what I love,” he said. He’s very involved in the retirement community he’s in, a “banner-waver for inter-generational activities,” he said. “I really want to be remembered as a shepherd.” (He and Marcia, his late wife — 2017, were keepers of ewes, lambs, “quite a large flock.”)


Larry Bailey, of Stroudsburg, PA: I could write a book about you! But I can’t. (He was my last call, which I knew would exceed the word count allowed.) Here’s a shortened version. As to Pennsylvania: “Been here too long-from the day I got here, 1954, I wish I was back.” He grew up in Orono, 32 College Ave., and Park Street, with a filling station across the street. “Elms girls, looking for a ride to campus, used to stand right at that intersection,” he said. Larry was in the Army, 25th Division, at the military base in Hawaii, Schofield Barracks, in 1955, where, he said, Burt Lancaster — in the movie From Here to Eternity — stood up on the roof and shot at Zeros (Japanese planes.). Larry said it’s the first time in 20/30 years he hasn’t come to Maine. This year his wife, Linda, had a great-grandson born in Houston so he said he ended up for “two weeks in Houston in 95-100 degree weather, wishing he was diving or standing on a dock at a lake in nice cool water or Messalonskee.” He said his father, a plant geneticist on the UMO faculty, would go every spring-fall to Highmoor Farm in Monmouth to the U of M Agricultural Experimental Farm. The family would pack up two-thirds to three-quarters of their belongings, and pull a large freezer down to Monmouth, where he and sisters attended Monmouth Academy. Classmate Dave Hale lived in Monmouth and as early teenagers, he and Dave would tent on Cochnewagon Lake. Larry spoke of the late Jack Weymouth, of Orono, whose mother, in cleaning Jack’s room (he was 14), found, in a chest 14 sticks of dynamite and the caps he’d taken from the university farm in one of the fields. He also mentioned the late Ray Atherton, who lived across the backyard, Valdine Chalmers Atwood ’54 and Phyllis Noyes Scantlebury, all Orono High classmates. Another story: At age 13, during a middle-of-WWII Allagash trip with two faculty members, the late botanist E. Cecile Ogden and the late geologist by the last name of Trefethan (Larry chose Dave Hale to also go along), they stayed at a game warden’s camp, but had to go into Quebec. “When we came through customs, the two faculty members had a lot of rationed butter and sugar underneath the trailer and I was standing there sort of tense, thinking as a teenager going to jail in Canada” said Larry. All went well. Larry said he “feels fortunate working as a land surveyor. Today I just got my PDH (Professional Development Hours) license renewed, good for two years.” He used to hike up to the top of the Appalachian Trail, which begins six miles south of him, to track hawks and raptors migrating south, some to South America. As to Larry’s looks: “Hollywood hasn’t called me yet; lacking in hair; a midget, probably 5 foot, 7 now.”


This is all the news for now.

Stay safe.