Class of 1957 Winter 2022 Class Note

This is our Reunion Edition! The class of 1957 had its 65th reunion on Thursday and Friday, September 8 and 9, 2022. There was a bus tour of the campus on Thursday afternoon, a cocktail hour at 5 p.m. followed by the All Alumni Dinner, both in a large banquet room at the Black Bear Inn.  Thomas G. Peaco, class of ’88 and the President/CEO of the UMaine Alumni Association welcomed us. Dinner was followed by a most interesting talk by President of the University of Maine and University of Maine at Machias, Joan Ferrini-Mundy updating us with many of the exciting programs at the University and also discussing the need for all alums to promote the University as student enrollment is down. The evening program concluded with a student flute quartet that played several beautiful pieces of music. Of course we sang the Stein Song at the end.

Although we were a very small group in attendance, we enjoyed the evening very much. At dinner the class of 57 included Jiggs Cecchini and his wife, Bev; Gordon Stuart, Wes English and his delightful friend LuWayne Arnold, Sally Bransford Irons and husband Fred; Patricia Wade Fraker and husband Robert.

Friday morning at 9:30 a.m. Jiggs called our class meeting to order and welcomed us. First on the agenda was the financial report. The Scholarship Fund report showed a Principal Balance of $39,143.52/and Fair Market Value of $57,055.05. The class fund balance as of July 31, 2022 was $2,828.61. As a group, we voted to attend the Senior Alumni events in the future, BUT (Jiggs said) we would like to shoot for our 70th reunion if we can.

Class officers remain Jiggs Cecchini, President and Patricia Wade Fraker, Secretary/Class Correspondent.

Jim Varner continues to serve as senior Alumni Vice President. Wes English volunteered to fill the opening for another 1957 representative to that committee.

We were pleased to learn that Olivia Henning is the recipient of our class’s scholarship in the amount of $1,675.00. Olivia is a senior studying Wildlife ecology whom we were delighted to meet at the Alumni luncheon. She is a bright, confident young woman who is dedicated to her new endeavor and was most appreciative for the scholarship from our class. As her family is not supportive of her advanced program at the university, we let her know that she will have our group’s support. Wes, in particular, stepped up to be her surrogate grandfather.

Our Class of 1957 Memorial Booklets were passed around the table. One hundred eighty-seven of our classmates have passed since our last reunion in 2017. Jiggs called for a moment of silence as we remembered those classmates.


Here are some reflections/news from the attendees of our 65th reunion:

Sally Bransford Irons and her husband, Fred, live in Orono. Sally said they had fun at our reunion. Sally and Fred met while he was a student at MIT and she was doing a dietetic internship there. Fred hails from Ohio and attended Ohio State U. before graduate work at MIT. 

The Bransfords lived in several different states before returning to Maine and specifically to Orono. They have a son who lives in Florida, one grandchild and a great grandchild. They very much enjoy living in Orono.


Gordon Stuart stays fit with a lot of winter skiing and swimming in the summer. Pre-Covid, Gordon often skied in Europe but recently has been skiing in various places in the USA.

Here are Jiggs’ reflections on our 65th reunion: He acknowledged the tremendous help from the Senior Alumni Chair, Ashley Twombly, in organizing the Senior banquet and Alumni Luncheon, then went on to say, “We had a chance to sit with our class, even as a small group, at different  meals. The chance to see other classes that were attending, especially when two former students of mine in the late 50-60’s era came over to see me, was unbelievable. Also friends from other classes who were there for their reunions. Reviewing new facilities and seeing positive changes in the University was exciting. It was good to see that the Maine Hello and Smile has not changed. Having a home football game with tailgating watching a tremendous band and football team perform just made for a fun reunion end with many fond memories and friendships that have lasted a lifetime.”

 We had a good time catching up on Wes’s activities. He and his friend LuWayne, both talented musicians with a number of instruments, spend many enjoyable hours playing with various groups, not only in Florida but while summering in Maine. Wes shared his adventure building a barn in Bridgeton, Maine. Here’s what he said:


“For twenty or thirty years I have had a hankering to have a barn. Why? I don’t have cows, horses, pigs or hay to put in the barn. But a barn, especially one without manure in it, can be a nice homey place to hold parties, barn dances, band rehearsals, and just to entertain friends. Put in a mud room, a wood stove, a stage, a kitchen, and a serving counter and you are all set to have some fun. Near the end of last summer I found an acre of land in Bridgton, Maine that looked like a good location for a party barn, so I bought the property. I found a timber framer from Hiram to build the framework and a builder to complete the remainder of the structure. Progress has been slow this summer of 2022 because of transportation delays and because everyone in the building industry just seems to be overbooked with work these days. So in the year since I bought the property I have managed to have the land surveyed and excavated for the pouring of the concrete slab, but that’s about it. In the next six months I hope the framework will be erected, the roof will be installed as well as the siding, and the kitchen completed.” Once your barn is completed, Wes, what would you say to our having a mini-reunion there in Bridgton?

Speaking of music, Wes told us at dinner about a song written by Terry Swett that was signed into law by Governor Mills as Maine’s song of the 21st century. This does not replace the 1937 song that was written by Roger Vinton Snow but is in addition to the state song. Check out YouTube if you can. The accompanying photos, a virtual tour of Maine, are gorgeous.

In an email following reunion weekend, Wes said, “…meeting Olivia Henning and spending a few hours with fellow classmates gave me a shot in the arm so to speak, rekindled my interest in UMaine, and pointed out to me once again its tremendous value to the State of Maine.  I hope it did the same for you.”  


Although Jim Varner missed the Alumni dinner, he attended the Friday events, first our class meeting and later in the day, the reunion reception at Buchanan Alumni House. At the end of the class meeting, Jim spontaneously sang a rousing spiritual which delighted us all, even people outside the meeting room! [Abby, I need to find out exactly what to call the song Jim sang.] Jim, as you will recall from the previous Alumni Magazine, received the Alumni Achievement Award for his civil rights work and other important humanitarian contributions.

On Sept. 8 just as Robert and I were rushing out the door to head to Orono for Reunion, I had a call from our classmate John Watson who had read the online version of the most recent Alumni Magazine class notes. After returning from reunion, I called John back and discovered what an interesting life he’s had and continues to have. John graduated in civil engineering and worked for sixteen years building bridges for Cianbro Construction Company. One of his first jobs was in Madawaska as the manager of a new company purchased by Cianbro which occasionally required meetings in Pittsfield to which he attended by flying himself in a company airplane. For thirty years, John had his own construction company. John and his wife, who passed away in 2017, had three daughters who gave them eight grandchildren. John says he also has six granddogs. Two granddaughters and two grandsons graduated from the University of Southern Maine. One granddaughter is a paralegal and the other is currently a teacher and is planning to go to law school. One grandson is also a lawyer. John keeps very fit and still flies a 1954 Piper Super Cub which he keeps on pontoons. He is a bush pilot and enjoys flying over the beautiful Maine forests, lakes and ponds. He also rides a mountain bike at Sugar Loaf, fishes a lot, canoes and does some bird hunting. He has made over two dozen, hundred mile camping/canoeing trips, a number of them with his grandchildren. John says that to stay busy he takes care of some properties one of his daughters owns as well as keeping up with six of his own properties including a hangar, a warehouse and several camps. John was an ATO. We’ll forgive you, John, for attending another reunion held the same weekend as ours if you promise to fly in for our next one in 2027!

As for Robert and me, we had a wonderful time being on campus participating in all the events planned by the Alumni Association, visiting with classmates and hearing current news about our great university. Let’s all do what we can to promote our alma mater to young people we know who are thinking about college. I, for one, would like to see others have a college experience as life-changing as mine was at the University of Maine Orono and to develop friendships that last a lifetime.

Please share your news with me via phone, email or text.