Hello, friends. I am at home on Mount Desert Island, writing this column at the
end of the strangest summer most of us can ever remember: safely distanced
outdoor dinners with family and friends, and masked walks through Acadia. As
you read this, my hope is that you and yours are healthy and safe and that you
have been able to celebrate part of the holidays with loved ones.
This past spring Gary Cran retired as our representative on the UMaine Senior
Alumni board. Gary has been doing double duty for our class for nearly a
decade. He will continue on our executive board as class agent, a job that brings
him much satisfaction. As Gary says, “The most rewarding thing is receiving
thank-you letters from students who have been awarded our class scholarships.
Their descriptions of relationships with their grandparents and their hopes for
their futures are heart-warming.” Of course, the hardest part of his job is
reminding us all that it is our yearly contributions to UMaine that sustain the
Valerie Beck Sterritt Scholarship.
I am pleased to announce that we now have two new members on the Senior
Alumni board. Ginny Dyer Bousum and Mary Hilton Shorey joined the board this
summer. We thank you both so much!
I asked both Ginny and Mary to send me some news about their summers. Ginny
wrote to tell me that, as a sailor, she was disappointed to have her boat on the
hard until July, but still enjoyed some wonderful sails on Penobscot Bay during
the shortened summer. The highlight sail was with her youngest granddaughter,
Scarlett, to Bucks Harbor following Robert McCloskey’s story One Morning in
Maine. Scarlett even had a loose tooth. On a more poignant note, Ginny wrote
that the pandemic caused the cancellation of the traditional graduation ceremony
for her granddaughter Eliza, cum laude UMaine, Class of 2020.
Mary wrote to say that she and Frank are keeping up with friends and family
through FaceTime. They are very busy on their beautiful farm and are so thankful
to all the cooperative people who helped them this spring as they navigated their
health appointments, etc. In a year of giving back, she writes, “This is our year to
support the Salvation Army.”
Bill Smullen writes that he recently stepped down as CEO of the nonprofit Clear
Path for Veterans. However, taking it easy is not Bill’s way. He is now in the
process of writing his fourth book, this one on the merits of mentoring. He still
lives in Syracuse “where golf courses abound and compete for his time.”
Don Ouellette writes that he and Betty are doing well. Like most of us, they had a
quiet summer. When Don’s 80th birthday party had to be canceled, his son and
daughter came up with a unique gift. Don and Betty were teamed up with a
senior writer from the company Story Terrace to help them write their biography.
They have been gathering old photos and reading letters Betty kept from their
courtship while Don was at UMaine and Betty was at Maine Medical in Portland.
Don says that recalling the memories they both have from their childhoods and
early years as a couple has been a wonderful experience. He is also very busy
with community projects. He has set up video streaming for the 5 PM Mass each
Sunday for his church’s Facebook page and helped the Orleans library prepare
to conduct fall Lifetime Learning presentations remotely.
While the COVID-19 pandemic forced cancellation of our 80th birthday party in
August, classmate Pat McCourt DiTata decided to make the trip to Bailey Island
anyway. She writes that she and her partner, François, enjoyed exploring the
island, hiking, and touring Bath’s Maine Maritime Museum. They are looking
forward to joining all of us next August. The highlight of her email was the
announcement of Pat’s first great-grandchild, Rylah May Verdeflor.
While the past summer has been distinguished by separation, Millie Simpson
Stewart and Sally Kennett Juenemann did manage one lovely afternoon together
on Lake Cobbosseecontee in West Gardiner on their friends, Mary and Jim
Fish’s boat. Millie told me that they wore masks, or stayed distanced except for
one picture taken by Sally’s partner, Bob Hancock, that day.
Two classmates joined the online Senior Alumni Social, which was part of the
virtual Reunion in September. Bill Lawlor and Alfred Hagan participated in the
event, visiting over Zoom with other UMaine alumni.
The class executive board is planning, “fingers crossed,” to have a very special
party on August 26. Save the date! We hope to see you all there! In the
meantime, please keep in touch with me, and join our class Facebook page. It
has never been more important to stay connected.