Late in the morning of Sunday, August 8, several Windemere residents and staffers looked to the sky to see fellow resident Beverly Brush waving cheerfully from the passenger seat of a biplane.
“I’m going to be 80, I told myself,” Ms. Brush said a few days after the flight. “I’ve been on every (Martha’s Vineyard) boat. This time I want to go up in the air.”
Ms. Brush was born at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital on August 6, 1930, the daughter of a dentist and a schoolteacher in Vineyard Haven. She has lived on the Island nearly all her life, graduating from the Tisbury High School in 1948. For many years she sold Christmas cards around the Island to make ends meet. Since she moved into Windemere in 2005, she has ridden fast ferries to both Hyannis and New Bedford and each of the conventional ferries to Falmouth for Chinese food.
Ms. Brush’s wish to fly came true for her 80th birthday thanks to Classic Aviators LTD at the Katama Airfield, Windemere’s Make a Wish program, and the generosity of an anonymous donor on Chappaquiddick who, after hearing about Ms. Brush’s wish, was happy to assist.
“Our goal is to keep our [Windemere] residents engaged in life and to keep fulfilling their wishes,” said Betsy Burmeister, Director of Recreation and head of Make a Wish at Windemere. Since the program began in 2007, residents have ridden the ferris wheel at the Agricultural Fair, dipped chocolate with the help of the Good Ship Lollipop, had facials at the Mansion House, and written their life stories through Susan Klein’s writing workshop.
Ms. Brush celebrated her actual birthday with flowers and Sweet E’s cupcakes before heading to the Katama Airfield two days later for her flight. Pilot Mike Creato took Ms. Brush and her close friend and Windemere volunteer Maureen Gazaille into the air in the cockpit of the Red Baron.
“We flew over South Beach and Katama, construction in Edgartown, Nomans Land, and the Oak Bluffs and Edgartown harbors,” Ms. Brush said. “I had fun saying ‘Hey, everyone!’ and waving while we flew over Windemere and Vineyard Haven.”
Rough seas have never been a problem for Ms. Brush, but turbulence over West Chop proved more difficult to handle, and the trip was cut a bit short. After the plane landed at Katama, Ms. Brush was greeted by friends and Windemere staffers, including Ken Chisholm, the head of the unit, who was delighted that Ms. Brush had the opportunity to fly over the Island.
In a letter-to-the-editor that appears in today’s Times, Ms. Gazaille wrote, “I would like to thank Beverly, who thinks she ruined my ride [because it was abbreviated] when in fact she gave me the opportunity to share with her the most incredible experience of my life.”
“I’m staying on the ground until September,” said Ms. Brush, who will finish the last 30 minutes of the flight over Gay Head next month, thanks to a generous offer by Mike Creato to take her up again, at no charge, so she can finish her flight and fulfill her wish.