Class of 1957 Summer 2023 Class Note

Rod Spearin and I had a wonderful conversation when he called me after reading our column in the online winter 2023 MAINE Alumni Magazine. At my request he kindly followed up with a letter sharing his news. “Sorry I missed the 65th Reunion of the Class of ’57, but I am technology challenged and unfortunately didn’t get on board with that info. The picture of you, Jim Varner, Wes English, and Jiggs Cecchini brought back a lot of memories. I still see my fraternity (Phi Eta Kappa) brother Jim Varner quite often. My wonderful experience at Maine centered around my fraternity and the sports arena. My career was in education for 38 years, the last 23 as school superintendent in Camden, Rangeley, Lee, Monmouth, and Richmond. My two girls were state champion gymnasts and then became New England Patriots cheerleaders! In whatever time we have left, I want to get involved with class get-togethers and reunite with old friends.” 

Richard Keirstead shared his interesting life after graduation: “With the arrival of the MAINEAlumni Magazine, I am once again reminded that I have never reported in. I consider myself to be in the Class of ’57, but actually graduated in 1959 due to a two-year break for the US Army. Stepping off a troopship at Barcelona, Spain, on a bright spring day, my thoughts were, ‘I gotta see more of this world!’ Immediately after graduation, I was on a plane to Southeast Asia, where I did humanitarian work for eight years. During that time, Joan Austin from North Carolina and I were wed. One of our sons was born in Vietnam, the other in Thailand. After retirement, we backpacked Europe three times and toured China. We have each spent time in over 40 countries. Our travel days are over, and we now live in a retirement community in Brevard, NC, Joan’s hometown.”

And now some news about our president, Jiggs Cecchini. I’ll start by quoting from a Connecticut Patch news article which featured Jiggs. “In the sports world most special tournaments or events that are named in someone’s honor usually occur after that person has passed on. Not so in the case of an inaugural basketball event which . . . bore the name of one of the most dedicated and selfless individuals ever to grace the Connecticut Association of Schools — Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CAS—CIAC).” The important event was the first annual Jiggs Cecchini Holiday Basketball Challenge, a Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference and The Rhode Island Interscholastic League event, which will be held every year in December. My limitation of words for our column doesn’t permit me to do justice to this august honor Jiggs received. I urge you to read more about Jiggs’ career by going online and typing in Jiggs Cecchini Holiday Basketball Challenge. There are articles and a great video. Congratulations, Jiggs!

At the end of April, my husband and I were privileged to host Dr. Paul Taiganides and his lovely daughter, Katerina, for two nights at our home. Chatting over the kitchen table, I caught up on Paul’s amazing career. He came to Maine from Greece and was one of seven international students at the university out of the total 2,000 student population. His major was agricultural engineering. He went on to receive his Ph.D. in environmental engineering from Iowa State University, the first person to receive a degree in that field. The following 10 years were spent as a full professor of environmental engineering at Ohio State, followed by 12 years with the United Nations managing a biogas and waste management project in Singapore and then Malaysia. Paul traveled extensively to consult and lecture in many countries in Europe and Asia. After leaving Boothbay, Paul and Katerina headed for Orono. A number of years ago, Paul established an award that is given annually to international students who stand out because of their focus on community service. Paul and Katerina spent a full day at UMaine with many activities organized by Liz Erickson, senior director of philanthropy at the UMaine Foundation, and Orlina Boteva ’04G, ’05G, director of the Office of International Programs, with visits around campus, time spent with some of the international students, and a dinner with some of the former recipients of Paul’s awards. Katerina made a superb film of their visit to Boothbay and UMaine, which I hope will be posted on the university website.

Jiggs passed along to me a letter he had received from the University of Maine Foundation which concerned our classmate, Retired Major General Earl Adams. While at UMaine, Earl began his military career by enrolling in the advanced ROTC program. He was commissioned into the Army in 1957 and later served in the Maine Army National Guard, where he remained for many years. Both Earl’s daughters, Kathryn ’85 and Susan ’86, were graduates of the University of Maine. After the passing of Kathryn, Earl and his family established a memorial scholarship in her honor. What a wonderful tribute to Kathy, Earl!

Do read the online version of news for the Class of ’57. Please call me or email your news!


Editor’s Note: The UMaine Alumni Association congratulates Pat Wade Fraker for receiving a Block M Award! The award recognizes Pat’s dedication, involvement, and contributions to her class.