Authors Posts by Pat Waring

Pat Waring

Pat Waring
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A check-in with Anna Marie D’Addarie’s motivational health and wellness program.

Siobhan Beasley teaches a yoga class as part of the Fit in 15 program. Photo by Ralph Stuart

New Year’s resolutions come and go; diet plans fly out the window at the first pizza; exercise goals are forgotten when the alarm rings at 6 am. And reducing stress in your busy life? That’s just too stressful!

Anna Marie D’Addarie, program coordinator at the Oak Bluffs library, knows as most of us do that achieving goals takes more than good intentions and wishful thinking. In 2014, determined to take off some stubborn extra pounds that had been burdening her for several years, Ms. D’Addarie embarked on a serious weight-loss quest of exercise and healthy eating. But more than that, she began exploring and analyzing what it takes to stick with a plan and achieve a goal of any kind.

Now Ms. D’Addarie is trim, fit, and energetic after losing 50 pounds, and she still continues the healthy lifestyle habits that enabled her to get to her desired weight, strength, and clothing size. Ms. D’Addarie sat down with this writer in a comfortable corner of the library, and recounted the research and experimentation she had done.

With books, periodicals, and the Internet at her fingertips, Ms. D’Addarie read, digested, and compiled the most helpful information about setting and achieving goals. She set her personal weight and fitness goals, and utilized what she learned.

She read about cognitive behavioral therapy, and found useful tips and suggestions. An inspiring volume was “The Beck Diet Solution” by Judith Beck, a cognitive behavioral therapist.

She stuck to her goals, and as she began losing pound after pound, growing stronger and slimmer through a healthy diet, long walks, and regular workouts, library patrons took note and asked how she did it.

“I told them I ate less and moved more,” Ms. D’Addarie recalled. It’s a tip many of us are aware of, but rarely implement in our own lives.

Ms. D’Addarie wanted to share with others all the useful information she had learned about reaching her desired goal. And what better way than through a library program, which she could easily facilitate and which are free and accessible to everyone? Thus, “Fit in ’15” was born.

She began planning the program last summer, and aimed to begin it soon after January 1, to support participants in keeping New Year’s resolutions and to capitalize on people’s inherent desire to better themselves at that time of year. She envisioned it as a combination of presentations on achieving fitness and wellbeing for body, mind, and spirit.

When she introduced the idea of “Fit in ’15” to library patrons, she received enthusiastic encouragement. Professionals and experts she contacted had positive feedback, and were cooperative, glad to sign on to share their wisdom and experience. Library patrons suggested program ideas and speakers. Prospective presenters contacted Ms. D’Addarie, offering to take part.

Beyond presenting interesting talks and demonstrations, Ms. D’Addarie intended “Fit in ’15” to provide a framework and model that people could incorporate into their lives to pursue a specific goal.

A set of 15 easy-to-follow “rules” help participants stay focused. Among them: “Set a goal for 2015”; “Write 15 advantages of reaching your goal”; “Select two ways to achieve your goal.”

Participants are encouraged to think of potential roadblocks, and devise a response before they occur, and to spend at least 15 minutes a day working toward the goal. Other creative suggestions: Make a vision board with photos and graphics; keep a daily “Fit in ’15” journal; decide on how to measure your success: and give yourself credit for hard work, often a gold star or a smiley face. Participants are encouraged to (anonymously) post their thoughts, affirmations, and progress on “The Fit in ’15 Wall” in the library, and to review goals and advantages frequently.

There is no official sign-up, no group meetings or reports. People may keep their goals private, though some share with Ms. D’Addarie or others. Ms. D’Addarie noted that presentations are open to those who just want to drop in occasionally, and not everyone needs to work toward a goal. But for those who wish to, there is plenty of support.

An experienced writer and editor, Ms. D’Addarie laid the groundwork for “Fit in ’15” with tempting emails describing the intent of the program, potential benefits, and highlighting some presentations. All communications and posters bore the jaunty “Fit in ’15” logo created by Tara Kenny of Illumination Design Group.

Library patrons were already excited about the program when the festive kickoff event arrived in late January. Presentations are held on weekend days and weeknights. Subjects have included nutrition, physical fitness, health and wellbeing, and emotional balance.

Even in the harsh weather, people turned out for “Boxing for Fitness and Fun” with Matt Cancellare, a “Brain Fitness” memory workshop by Nancy Langman and Victoria Haeselbarth, and “Guided Meditation” by Susan Desmerais. Jenn Chang demonstrated innovative vegetable creations in “Cooking with Color,” and served delectable samples. Springtime featured home organization with Kim D’Arcy, a healthy-eating presentation by nutritionists Lino and Jane Stanchich, and a “Yarn and Fabric Giveaway,” where participants shared materials while decluttering.

By late spring, “Fit in ’15” was observing its five-month anniversary with many active participants and a packed calendar of events. For those seeking to recover from a hectic July Fourth or settle into vacation mode, Ms. D’Addarie planned “Nurture Week,” featuring yoga with Siobhan Beasley, guided meditation, Nathan Luce’s “Reiki Demystified,” and a talk on tai chi and acupuncture. Jenn Chang was back recently with a bright lunch-to-go concept: “Mason Jar Portable Food.”

To help participants stay focused on a goal, Ms. D’Addarie sends regular emails with inspirational messages and photos, reminders about observing the rules, and descriptions of future events. She often shares her own process, too.

“I like the personal lists of what helps me be successful and what gets in my way,” commented Beth Toomey of West Tisbury. “To look at these tools daily is very powerful.”

“The overall benefits are a personalized positive process to help you stay on track,” Ms. Toomey added. “If you have an off day, and are not keeping to the plan, you easily get back on track by reading your own personally written ‘Fit in ’15 Rules’ and goals.”

Amber Hunt, a landscaper and part-time librarian from Oak Bluffs, gave a glowing review of the program and Ms. D’Addarie’s work in planning “Fit in ’15,” hosting events, and sending encouraging email reminders.

“I enjoyed the guided meditation,” Ms. Hunt recalled. “It was very relaxing, despite being in a room full of people, and I’ve even used the techniques if I’ve had trouble falling asleep. I mentally follow the steps the presenter gave, and have found it helps me fall asleep.”

Ms. Hunt, a first-time homeowner, said her goal is to become more organized, and “Fit in ’15” has supported her in continuing to work toward this goal, by doing a cleaning or other organizing chore each day.

“Participants try to give me credit for their success,” commented Ms. D’Addarie recently. “I gave them the tools, but they are doing the work. With ‘Fit in ’15,’ you have to show up every day: You recommit to your goal, you focus on the advantages of achieving the goal, and you give yourself credit for the work you do rather than beating yourself up for what you didn’t do.”

The upcoming calendar features “Vinyasa Open-Level Flow Yoga” by Yuliana Kim-Grant (Tuesday, August 11, and Thursday, August 13, 10:30 am),Keep on the Fitness Track” with Jaci Smith, physical therapist, athletic trainer, and wellness coach (Thursday, August 20, 6 pm). Kim D’Arcy presents “Organizing Your Paperwork” on a date to be announced.

When holiday time comes, Ms. D’Addarie is already planning for a “Holiday Recipe Makeovers” activity, a better and healthier way to make high-calorie holiday favorites. Participants are invited to submit a recipe for a traditional holiday delicacy, revised as a healthier, lighter version. There will be a prize for the best recipe, and recipes will be compiled in an ebook, available to all.

And when January 1 comes around again, will there be a “Fit in ’16” to help us keep those ambitious resolutions? Considering the popularity and success of this program, it would be a very welcome addition to the New Year.

For more information, contact adaddarie@clamsnet.org, 508-693-9433, ext. 142.

Peter Norris brings color to Chilmark, via the hills of Nepal

“My reward for doing all this is to see people light up when they see things they didn’t expect,” said Peter Norris, whose Chilmark garden boasts rhododendrons rarely if ever (until now) grown on the Island. “When they say, ‘I never knew a rhododendron looks like that, that’s my reward.”

Far beyond growing the rhododendrons that are so familiar — those tall, fat-leaved evergreen bushes bearing frothy pink or white blossoms — Mr. Norris delights in variety, the lesser-known plants. Unbeknownst to garden novices, the diversity within the rhododendron family is enormous, Mr. Norris said, leading this Times writer and photographer on a tour of his extensive 4½-acre garden.

No typical weekend gardener who buys some shrubs, plants them, and watches them grow, Mr. Norris is a horticultural explorer who has learned by doing, watching, researching. Passionate about rhododendrons, he has not only grown them for decades, he has investigated their history, their origins, visited their native habitats, familiarized himself with hundreds of specific species, searched for others, and is even working to create some new ones. “Maybe it’s part of the scientist in me,” said the recently retired, MIT-trained solid-state electronics engineer.

Tucked into gently sloping woodland just below the Norris home, the sun-dappled garden is serene and enticing on a warm June afternoon. Narrow walking paths meander through the woods, beside plantings, mounded earth set with shrubs, occasional flowers, delicate grasses, unusual trees.

A pond, partly covered by green plants and algae, is a haven for frogs. Rounded boulders, fallen tree trunks, small statues, and stone walls accent the growing things. Simple wooden chairs and benches call out to passersby to stop, rest, and reflect.

“This is a ‘Janet Blair,’” Mr. Norris says, stopping before a tall rhododendron with fluffy pink blossoms, perfectly suited to the 1930s movie star for whom it is named.

In the midst of the garden, “the Nursery,” surrounded by a high wire-mesh deer fence, is temporary home to some 200 fledgling plants. Only inches tall but already boasting big oval leaves, the baby rhododendrons will live in this protective shelter until sturdy enough to thrive in the larger garden. Mr. Norris points out a delicate little rhododendron with tiny, glossy green leaves and a single vibrant purple blossom. Barely 10 inches high, this perky miniature will continue to grow, he said, but so slowly it will take decades to attain even modest stature.

He leads the way to another one with light salmon blooms from the Heritage Museums and Gardens, once owned by rhododendron hybridizer Charles Dexter. The deep scarlet flowers of ‘Henry’s Red’ glow through the trees. Nearby is ‘Festive Feast,’ one of the few rhododendrons with a scent — this one a faint, vanilla berry.

Here are an azalea, and a mountain laurel with intricate peaches-and-cream flowers, both close relatives of the rhododendron, Mr. Norris explains.

Mr. Norris strides briskly through the looping paths, visitors hustling to keep up. He calls attention to a shrub here, a flower, a delicate Japanese maple, a towering metasequoia planted in September 2001, and countless rhododendrons. He knows them all intimately, his varied flock. He calls them by name, and has a story about every one.

Complimented on his ability to keep the plants’ names, both scientific and familiar, as well as their origins, characteristics, and growing habits on the tip of his tongue, Mr. Norris modestly says it is a good exercise to keep the memory supple.

Mr. Norris said he could not name his favorite rhododendron, especially because some are at peak beauty at different times of the weeks-long flowering season. “Sometimes you fall in love because they are little gems, or because one is a beautiful giant,” he added.

As Mr. Norris affectionately introduces individual plants and describes how they came here, and the care taken to keep them healthy, one begins to think of them as animals. They seem like friendly exotic creatures, whisked from distant homelands to this nurturing sanctuary. And Mr. Norris is their vigilant caretaker, always working to create optimum conditions, protecting them from predators, binding them up after storm damage, giving them a drink when days are dry.

They come here not from the steamy African jungle, but mountainous, often remote regions of Asia, most often China, Nepal, and Thailand. Only three types of rhododendron are native to the United States, Mr. Norris says. But those from abroad are legion.

Figuring out what plants can survive here, and how to help them thrive, is one challenge that Mr. Norris loves. It goes hand in hand with his drive to bring diversity to an uninspired rhododendron scene. Not surprisingly, he names the late Polly Hill as inspiration and mentor.

In the 1970s he volunteered at the Polly Hill Arboretum before it was an established public garden. Later he was a board member for nine years, served as treasurer, and co-chaired the fundraising committee. He worked with Ms. Hill, and credits her for much of his learning and inspiration.

He recalled her comment that “Martha’s Vineyard is surrounded by horticultural poverty,” and how she set herself to changing that. Mr. Norris holds deep respect for Mrs. Hill’s adventurousness and determination to bring new and unfamiliar species to the Vineyard.

“She pushed the envelope,” he says with admiration. “She planted things to see whether they would survive here.”

Although he does not presume to be a horticulturalist of her stature, Mr. Norris is a follower in her footsteps. He is excited to introduce new plants here, especially rhododendrons, that come in many more shapes, sizes, and colors than people generally realize. “I love it when people say, ‘I didn’t know that was a rhododendron,’” he explained.

And like Polly Hill, he delights in experimentation.

“I try things people more experienced wouldn’t try, because they wouldn’t be likely to succeed,” he said with a laugh.

Although Peter Norris was neither raised nor trained as a horticulturalist, gardening has been a constant theme in his life. He was born in New York City, and the family later moved to suburban West Hempstead, N.Y., where his parents grew perennials and flowering shrubs

In 1960, young Peter Norris headed to Cambridge to attend MIT. There he received bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and finally a Ph.D. in electronics engineering.

His own first garden came in 1968, when he moved to New Jersey for his first job after college.

“Once I had a place of my own, I began gardening,” Mr. Norris recalled. He was drawn to rhododendrons from the outset.

A few years later he and his wife returned to Cambridge, where he established a quarter-acre urban garden in the fertile Cambridgeport area. Rhododendrons again were the stars.

Seasonal visitors who had rented here for many years, the Norrises bought a small home on the Island in 1980. Along with providing a vacation retreat, the West Tisbury property offered Mr. Norris a new gardening opportunity.

In 2000, the couple acquired a house and compact barn on 16 serene wooded acres in Chilmark, “because the place in West Tisbury was only ⅘ of an acre, and I had filled that up with rhododendrons and needed more space,” Mr. Norris chuckles.

Mr. Norris admits that today when he sees the “big, mature giants” that thrive on the West Tisbury property, he finds them a little boring. But he explained that was all that was available in nurseries at the time.

“There wasn’t much on the palette. Everyone had white and pink and purple blowsy things. That was it.”

“People ask, How did you get interested in rhododendrons?’” said Mr. Norris. “I wish I had a good answer. I saw them, I got interested, I wanted to have some of them. It’s been a love affair that’s grown over time.”

That horticultural romance got a burst of fireworks in the mid-1980s with the advent of the Internet. Suddenly Mr. Norris could view and purchase rhododendrons from nurseries across the country, predominantly in the Pacific Northwest.

His wife would awaken at 2 am and find him poring over nursery websites, entranced by the vast array of rhododendrons. “My jaw would just drop open at what I saw. I had no idea that rhododendrons could be so varied in color! That was a real epiphany for me. That opened my eyes. That was really what I was after.”

He began buying seedlings less than a foot high, very different from the tall, mature plants sold by local nurseries. He was enthralled to find rhododendrons with uncommon leaves, in varied shapes and sizes.

“I liken it to wine tasting,” said Mr. Norris. “People start out with just red or white, then once they start learning about it, they learn all the varieties, the individual vineyards, the vintages. It keeps getting more and more complicated the deeper you get into it.”

“The rhododendrons are exactly the same way. I started off with just red and white, what I could get at the local nurseries, then through mail order from nurseries, then the Rhododendron Species Foundation and American Rhododendron Society. I started to see what a wide variety of plant material was available,” he said. He now serves on the board of the Rhododendron Species Foundation.

The more Mr. Norris learned, the more deeply he wanted to explore. He and his wife went on plant-hunting expeditions with the Rhododendron Species Foundation to remote Chinese provinces, searching for specific rhododendrons in their native habitats.

“It’s very exciting,” said Mr. Norris. “And there’s detective work, trying to track down from sketchy reports where plants are located.”

The trips put him in mind of the groundbreaking work of 19th century British plant explorers who risked their lives to search out rhododendrons in Asia and bring them home.

Asked whether his wife, Amy Rugel, shares his interest in gardening, Mr. Norris smiled: “She’s a good sport.” He added that she enjoys the horticultural expeditions, and maintains her own vegetable garden.

After his recent retirement from a long and successful career in solid-state materials and electronics engineering, Mr. Norris began living year-round on the Vineyard, and dedicating more and more time to his gardening. His daughter, Rebecca Norris, lives in Edgartown with her husband, Times graphic designer Kris Rabasca, and their daughter Hannah, 13, who loves to visit her grandfather’s magical up-Island garden.

Mr. Norris is quick to emphasize he does not maintain the garden singlehandedly. Suzy Zell, who logged many years working for the Polly Hill Arboretum, is head gardener. “She’s my right arm — and my left arm; we’re a team,” he said, grateful for her dedicated expertise. Artist/gardener Rick Hoffman oversees lush perennial beds. Surprisingly, Mr. Norris said he had neither master plan nor model for the graceful garden layout, but simply added a little at a time.

These days Mr. Norris is immersed in his newest passion, hybridizing. He is working to create new rhododendrons combining chosen characteristics from parent plants, to make them both attractive and suited to the Vineyard environment.

The enterprise requires patience and dedication, for potential pitfalls are many. The flowers he has pollinated may not produce seeds; the seeds may not germinate; the seedlings may not thrive. Not only that, a rhododendron can take years, even decades from seed to flower.

But it is evident that Mr. Norris finds the rewards well worth the work and risk, as he leads us to a second nursery and points to rows of young, custom-blended, hand-grown, ‘Chilmark Blueberry Ridge’ hybrid rhododendron seedlings, basking in the sun. These plants, he said with satisfaction, don’t exist anywhere else in the world.

Though seemingly always ready for a new challenge, Mr. Norris predicts his hybridizing project will keep him busy for some time. But should things slow down, his next intriguing step is to begin creating interspecific hybrids, combining rhododendrons and azaleas.

The garden is becoming known among rhododendron enthusiasts. Mr. Norris offers occasional tours to groups, such as the 20 members of the American Rhododendron Society’s East Coast Chapter who visited in May. He welcomes guests each year at the Garden Conservancy’s Open Garden Day, a nationwide program. He said he has no desire for notoriety, only that those who wish to see his plants will have the opportunity, and he is confident that will happen.

“People who are interested will find my garden,” he said.

 

Rhododendron Tips by Peter Norris

 

I’d like to quote from a far more experienced rhodo plantsman than I, the late Hank Schannen:

 

12 Criteria for success in planting rhododendrons

 

  1. Drainage
  2. Drainage
  3. Drainage
  4. Drainage
  5. Drainage
  6. Drainage
  7. Acid soil pH
  8. Dappled shade
  9. Able to water when needed
  10. If pot-grown, loosen roots [viciously]
  11. When in doubt, plant it HIGH!
  12. Hmmm – more DRAINAGE!!!

 

8 Ways to Kill a Rhododendron

 

  1. Site it on the SW corner of a house
  2. Full sun
  3. Heavy clay soil
  4. Wet — poor drainage
  5. Downspout nearby
  6. Neutral/alkaline soil pH
  7. Plunk the pot-grown plant into the ground with root ball in pristine condition
  8. Ignore 1-6 and 12 on first list

 

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African American Heritage Trail adds a stop to honor a “singer, dancer, boxer, wrestler and nurse.”

“From now on, I’m to be what I’m to be,” said Emma Maitland, then only a very young woman, in the early years of a life already filled with challenges and upheavals. It is not common to hear a young woman make such a strong, determined declaration, much less a young African-American woman, as Emma Maitland was, living in the early 1900s, a time when racism was rampant and entrenched in this country.

01 - dzIbJAe.jpgBut Emma Chambers Maitland, who will be celebrated this Sunday, June 28, by the African American Heritage Trail of Martha’s Vineyard, was a most unusual woman. Her extraordinary life will be commemorated with an ornate plaque placed on her Oak Bluffs vacation home, to be designated the 26th site on the heritage trail.

Emma Chambers Maitland was determined to be an exception to all the rules that limited the choices available to young black women in her time. Information gleaned from her nephew, Frank Chambers of Atlanta; Oak Bluffs neighbors; and a priceless journal where she recorded her innermost thoughts as a young woman leaves no doubt but that she succeeded. Without letting fear and stereotypes hold her back, Ms. Maitland built a dynamic, richly varied, and colorful life for herself, a life packed with achievement and adventure, one that any modern woman would be glad to embrace.

04 - HrD7es7.jpgThough her beginnings were harsh — a poor sharecropping family in Virginia, expectations of a life of menial farm work, and no encouragement to better herself — she forged ahead on her own. She fought to become a teacher, and traveled abroad as a stage performer, only to become a champion boxer, danced on New York City stages, and later fulfilled another burning ambition: to be a nurse.

“Just hearing her story makes you realize anything is possible for anyone,” said Elaine Cawley Weintraub, co-founder with Carrie Tankard of the trail 20 years ago. “She took life by the throat and didn’t accept limitations, whether gender, ethnicity, the racism of America in that time period.”

Scenes highlighting Emma Maitland’s top achievements have been immortalized by artist Barney Zeitz in the striking 14-inch by 19-inch plaque that will adorn the modest Dukes County Avenue house that was once her vacation home. The unique design features a stainless steel border with images of Emma Maitland as boxer with gloves raised and ready, dancer with limbs extended, nurse, and teacher emerging from the background.

Headlining the text are Ms. Maitland’s own confident words: “I can teach, sing, act, dance, box, wrestle, or nurse — which would you prefer?”

03 - eXCnobN.jpgJane Chambers was born in 1893 into a sharecropping family, tobacco farmers descended from slaves. She had seven brothers, and a father who discouraged her from aspiring to a better life. Describing her brothers as “rough country folk who had no way of improving themselves mentally, physically, or financially,” young Jane was determined to be different.

After recovering from a tree-climbing fall, she enlisted support from a local priest who encouraged her to study, and despite her father’s protests, went to his convent to become educated. Though returning home when her mother fell ill, the plucky young woman took a test qualifying her to become a teacher. Against family opposition she left to become a teacher, declaring, “I am through killing tobacco worms.”

After teaching for three years, she left the farm, Virginia, and her old life for good, changing her name to Emma, traveling to Washington D.C. to seek broader opportunity. There she met Clarence Maitland, a medical student at Howard University. A whirlwind romance led to marriage and the birth of a daughter, but ended tragically with Clarence’s death from tuberculosis.

“Within one year, I was a fiancée, a wife, a mother, and a widow,” reflected Emma Maitland in her journal.

Like many African Americans of that time, Ms. Maitland headed for Paris to live free of racist barriers and seek ways to support herself and her baby girl. On stage at the Moulin Rouge she danced, and later teamed up with another performer for a boxing skit. But although it began as a creative stage attraction, Ms. Maitland began to pursue boxing seriously, training, competing, and eventually being named the world’s lightweight female boxing champion. After her retirement from boxing, she continued to wrestle, and taught dance and gymnastics in New York City, advocating a healthy lifestyle.

Back in New York City, Ms. Maitland was involved in the Harlem Renaissance movement. She appeared in Shuffle Along, the first Broadway show written, produced, and performed by African Americans, and performed at the legendary Apollo Theatre. A believer in women’s rights, she even became a bodyguard for a well-to-do woman. Later she pursued another longtime dream, and trained to become a nurse.

Again, like other African Americans seeking respite from racism she came to the Vineyard, one of the few U.S. locations where diversity was welcomed.

Jacqueline “Jakki” Hunt of Oak Bluffs, former Martha’s Vineyard NAACP president, recalled an incident years long past when she was growing up here, an incident that exemplifies Emma’s feisty courage and sense of right. Fondly remembering Emma as an independent girl “wearing braids when no one was wearing braids,” Ms. Hunt said Emma came to her rescue when boys were teasing her on the beach. Emma, who was several years older, drove the bullies away, encouraged the little girl, and taught her to swim.

After a rich, full, triumphant life of overcoming, Ms. Maitland died in 1975 at age 82.

“Emma Chambers Maitland embodies all that our organization values,” wrote Ms. Weintraub in the newly revised book African American Heritage Trail of Martha’s Vineyard. “She is an incredible role model for young women who wonder about their own possibilities, and for all people everywhere. In an age when for a young woman of color born into poverty the possibilities were very limited, she broke all the rules, and her courage and talents deserve to be remembered.”

Ms. Weintraub said that many of those who are chosen by the Heritage Trail accept the honor modestly. “But I’ve got a feeling this lady would say, ‘It’s about time!’”

Much of Emma Chambers Maitland’s biographical information in this story was compiled by Elaine Cawley Weintraub in African American Heritage Trail of Martha’s Vineyard.
Dedication Ceremony

Barney Zeitz puts finishing touches on an African American Heritage Trail plaque for Emma Maitland Chambers, which will be unveiled in Oak Bluffs at 1 pm on Sunday, June 28, at her former summer home on Dukes County Avenue. – Photo by Valerie Sonnenthal
Barney Zeitz puts finishing touches on an African American Heritage Trail plaque for Emma Maitland Chambers, which will be unveiled in Oak Bluffs at 1 pm on Sunday, June 28, at her former summer home on Dukes County Avenue. – Photo by Valerie Sonnenthal

The African American Heritage Traill of Martha’s Vineyard will hold a dedication ceremony celebrating the life of Emma Chambers Maitland on Sunday, June 28, 1 pm, at her former home, 113 Dukes County Ave., Oak Bluffs.

The ceremony will feature comments by Frank Chambers, Ms. Maitland’s nephew, and other relatives. Following the unveiling of the commemorative plaque by Barney Zeitz, participants are invited to gather at the home of Jacqueline Hunt, 62 Nashawena Park, Oak Bluffs, for refreshments and conversation.

The ceremony marks the 26th site on the Heritage Trail, begun on the Island in 1995, with the dedication of the Shearer Cottage. The trail now honors a number of individuals as well as several groups and marks buildings and locations significant in the lives of African Americans on the Island.

The organization offers regular summer tours, customized tours, and lecture presentations.

For more info visit mvafricanamericanheritagetrail.org or contact Elaine Weintraub,  beatrice19@comcast.net.

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The longtime Peace Council member is honored for his inspiring leadership and contributions.

Lisa Weiss on the piano, and soprano Stephanie Barnes to the left. – Photo by Susan Safford

Admirers of the Rev. Alden Besse packed the West Tisbury library’s community room Friday evening for “Music Presented in the Cause of Peace,” sponsored by the Martha’s Vineyard Peace Council.

The Peace Council’s mission is to foster nonviolence, justice, and peace within the Island community and the world, and Mr. Besse has done just that. The touching performance appropriately celebrated the human needs activist and longtime member of the Peace Council. Mr. Besse sat in the front row smiling broadly, with Barbara, his wife of 58 years, proudly sitting beside him.

“Alden is the most important person in the Peace Council; the Peace Council is still alive because of Alden,” said secretary/treasurer Bruce Nevin. He invited attendees to join and to donate to the Embarking Peacemaker scholarship fund, established for graduating seniors on the Island, and awarded based on an essay on peace and peacemaking.

“Who else here is a member of the Alden Besse fan club?” asked Sarah Nevin, council president, as hands shot up throughout the audience.

“Alden is a man of distinction for a lifetime of service to others,” said Ms. Nevin, reading an eloquent tribute.

The honoree, the Rev. Alden Besse, at the West Tisbury library. – Photo by Susan Safford
The honoree, the Rev. Alden Besse, at the West Tisbury library. – Photo by Susan Safford

“We have Alden to thank for maintaining the continuity of the Peace Council’s annual events, and continuing to uphold the goal of world peace in the eyes of the Island community.”

“Showing up is the mark of commitment to one’s cause, and Alden has been there at every meeting, at every event, large or small.

“Alden, your many years of service continue inspiring Islanders, not only to believe in global peace but to take action in the cause of peace,” said Ms. Nevin.

An Episcopal priest, Mr. Besse was educated at Harvard and Virginia Theological Seminary, then served at four churches before retiring to Martha’s Vineyard. Well-loved in the community, he has been pastoral assistant at Grace Episcopal Church, chaplain at Windemere, and president of the Island Clergy Association.

Mr. Besse’s tall, slender, smiling presence has been a familiar sight at countless Peace Council events: waving placards at Five Corners demonstrations, leading the sunrise Hiroshima Day Observance at the Gay Head Lighthouse every August 6, and briskly heading the October CROP Walk raising money to combat world hunger.

Although Mr. Besse has said he has contributed to dozens of charities worldwide, on the Island his time and support are given to the Peace Council, the CROP Walk, and Grace Church.

“Everywhere he goes, Alden touches people’s lives in a loving way,” said Ms. Nevin. “He wants to help, he never turns anyone away. He lives by the Golden Rule.”

Peace Council member Beth Ann Hiller added a tribute. Singer Martha Hudson recalled Mr. Besse’s sermon at Union Chapel with Bill and Hillary Clinton present.

“I just wish he could have listened more,” she said.

“I am completely overwhelmed,” said Mr. Besse, thanking the crowd. “This should be just the beginning of great things for peace on the Island. God bless you, God bless America, God bless the whole world.”

Pianist Lisa Weiss, professor at Goucher College, planned the program, choosing pieces in the twin keys of C-sharp and D-flat, a musical commentary on sameness, differences, and a peaceful coexistence.

She opened at the Steinway with two Bach Preludes and Fugues, voices pristinely articulated, played with a heartfelt meditative quality and absolute ease despite intricate multiple lines.

Liszt’s Transcendental Etude “Harmonies du Soir” was delivered with passion and energy. Ms. Weiss’s virtuoso dexterity in the lush mix of tumultuous, full-bodied chords and runs with delicate, thoughtful passages earned her an enthusiastic standing ovation.

Jesse Keller, director of Island programs and education and choreographer at The Yard, offered peace through movement, with a gracefully supple interpretation of composer Osvaldo Golijov’s “ZZ’s Dream,” inspired by a thought-provoking poem by Zhuang Zhou.

Martha Hudson, in her rich mezzo-soprano, performed three familiar songs by Franz Schubert with tenderness and care. Each exemplified peace, especially “Cradle Song,” soothing as a nursery rhyme.

Martha Hudson, mezzo-soprano, sang three pieces by Franz Schubert. – Photo by Susan Safford
Martha Hudson, mezzo-soprano, sang three pieces by Franz Schubert. – Photo by Susan Safford

Soprano Stephanie Barnes concluded with “Voice from the Annex,” four moving reflections by Anne Frank, to music by Jose Antonio Bowen. In Ms. Barnes clear, strong soprano, the poignant music matched Anne Frank’s words. Living in fear, yearning for simple pleasures of normal life, she pledged, “In spite of everything I still believe that people are good at heart. I must uphold my ideals.”

“It’s amazing that a place so small can put on such a magnificent performance,” Mr. Besse commented.

As the event concluded, departing concertgoers stopped to offer Mr. Besse a fond memory, handshake, or hug.

“Alden remembers what he’s been told about people’s hurts,” said Lee Fierro, a Grace Church member. “He checks up, he prays, and I always feel that he’s there for me.”

“Alden could leave a message on your phone, he could calm you and give you a peaceful spirit, whether you were 2,100 or 500 miles from home,” said one council member. “He can encourage and mentor you to be more than even you think you can be.”

“If people are healed when they are heard, Alden Besse in his quiet, inquisitive, compassionate way has learned to do that great listening work,” said the Rev. Brian Murdoch, priest at Grace Church. “Out of his daily physical hardship he has heard and served by showing up always. He is a true Christian hero.”

 

 

Want to get more involved?

The Martha’s Vineyard Peace Council

The Martha’s Vineyard Peace Council sponsors educational activities, discussions, guest speakers, demonstrations, protests, and special observances. The Peace Council campaigns for legislation and causes promoting peace. Tax-deductible contributions to the Embarking Peacemaker Scholarship for graduating high school seniors can be sent to the Permanent Endowment for Martha’s Vineyard, P.O. Box 1182, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557, designated for the Embarking Peacemaker Fund. Monthly meetings of the Peace Council are held, often with potluck dinner. New members are welcome. For information call Bruce and Sarah Nevin, 508-627-8536.

Martha’s Vineyard CROP Hunger Walk

Sponsored locally by the Island Clergy Association, Island Food Pantry, and the Vineyard Committee on Hunger, the annual 10-kilometer fundraising walk is held nationwide in mid-October to raise money through pledges and donations to combat hunger at home and worldwide. A portion of proceeds raised here benefit the Island Food Pantry. For additional information, visit cropwalk.org or call 508-693-1673.

Grace Episcopal Church, Vineyard Haven

All are welcome for worship, prayer, and fellowship. Service opportunities include help serving dinners, organizing church events, and other outreach activities. For additional information, call Grace Church at 508-693-0332, or the Rev. Brian Murdoch at 617-504-2031, or visit facebook.com/gracechurchmv.

Local nurseries offer educational classes to get your garden in gear.

Chris Wiley, right, shows Donna Joyce the male/ and female properties in the globeflower. – Photo by Susan Safford

On April 25, I learned secrets of germinating seeds, and got my hands dirty digging in the soil. A week later I found out that annuals bloom all season, and that proper cutting back will lead to bushy, flower-filled plants. Recently I discovered mysteries of landscaping magic, how to easily expand a small space, or hide an unsightly object by careful and crafty plant placement.

And I uncovered all this with a group of new garden-loving acquaintances, in a big greenhouse bursting with lush new plants ready for the garden. Even on chilly, gray, early-spring mornings, the atmosphere convinced us that summer was on the way.

Along with taking home fresh information that I could put to use in my backyard, I left with my hands full of plants purchased at discount, and confidence that this year I had the knowledge to really help my gardens thrive.

Every Saturday morning during May and June, plant enthusiasts are invited to gather at Vineyard Gardens in West Tisbury for their annual spring lecture series. Beginning at 10 am, the hourlong Garden Talks cover a range of topics: vegetable gardening, landscape design, a survey of flowering annuals available to brighten the garden, and practical notes about how to outwit hungry deer and rabbits by choosing plants that may not suit their appetites.

Many of these free lecture-demonstrations offer hands-on learning as well as useful new information. Some include a tour of the extensive outdoor displays where spring flowers and shrubs are in full bloom, and where smaller greenhouses are filled with seedlings.

The “Grow Your Own Veggies” presentation on April 25 got the season off to an optimistic start, with information on soil preparation, composting, garden layout, plant selection, and planting and maintenance tips. Participants scooped out potting soil to fill containers, and chose from a wide array of seeds for early, cool-weather vegetables. With careful instruction, each student planted and carried home several containers, ready to germinate on a sunny windowsill.

Those who attended “The Wonderful World of Annuals” talk on May 9 learned about many unfamiliar flowering plants. They heard how annuals could be used in a cutting garden, or to bring color to a newly planted landscape area before shrubs and perennials mature.

Vineyard Gardens owner Chris Wylie provided an overview of plant evolution, and the amazing details of plant reproduction, scientific but still easy to understand. Who would have guessed that daisies are among the most evolved plants, California poppies the most primitive? And that deciduous trees are really flowering plants?

Last Saturday staffer Keith Kurman outlined fascinating principles of landscape design from practical, environmental, aesthetic, and philosophical perspectives. A professional garden designer, Mr. Kurman returned to the Vineyard Gardens staff after several years in California, where he taught landscape design at a community college.

On most Saturdays, participants receive a coupon good for a 20 percent discount on purchases related to that day’s lecture. Many programs feature a gift, usually a seedling to plant and tend at home.

Some participants agreed that the talks offer inspiration and motivation to get out and start gardening in the springtime, and that even when the topic is familiar, there is always something new to learn. Presentations are informal, with ample opportunity for asking questions and sharing personal gardening challenges and successes.

Vineyard Gardens owners Chris and Chuck Wylie are University of Vermont graduates. They began Vineyard Gardens in 1982, and have built it into a thriving nursery and landscaping business. Both are among the Saturday speakers. Ms. Wylie is especially fitted for that role since she taught biology, Island natural history, and other science classes at the Regional High School for six years. Ms. Wylie is also considering offering classes during the midwinter months, to cheer and educate garden lovers when snow covers the ground.

The lecture series has been offered every spring for many years. Subjects are chosen to provide useful information to both novice and experienced gardeners. Variety is important too, and Ms. Wylie said this year’s calendar includes some new topics for added appeal.

“Container Gardens” is the subject this Saturday, May 31, presented by longtime staff member Cathy James. Participants are invited to bring their own container to work on during the lecture, with potting soil and expert guidance close at hand. Small plants may be purchased before the talk.

“Herb Gardens,” always a customer favorite, kicks off next month’s lecture series on June 6. As she has for many seasons, herb expert Danguole Gabis will share her wisdom and experience with patrons who want to establish or improve their herb gardens and learn more about these unique plants.

Upcoming topics include “Deer and Rabbit Resistant Plants” (June 13) and “Low Maintenance Shrubs” (June 20). The series concludes on June 27 with “Butterfly Gardens,” a discussion of choosing the right plants to entice those pretty winged visitors to your summer yard.

Garden Talks, Saturdays through June, 10 am at Vineyard Gardens in West Tisbury. Free and open to the public. For more information, call 508-693-8511 or visit vineyardgardens.net.

Organic gardener Roxanne Kapitan teaches a gardening class at Middletown Nursery. – Photo courtesy Middletown Nursery
Organic gardener Roxanne Kapitan teaches a gardening class at Middletown Nursery. – Photo courtesy Middletown Nursery

Middletown Nursery 

Another place to brush up on your gardening skills this season is at Middletown Nursery on State Road in West Tisbury, where they’ve put the focus on edibles this spring. Through their classes the nursery has pledged to help participants learn how to plant and tend an organic garden, from choosing the right site and selecting plants, to tending the garden and putting it to bed in fall.

Classes began on April 25 with “Planting and Cooking with Herbs.” Organic gardener Roxanne Kapitan led the class, explaining how to build healthy soil with backyard composting, while food writer and private chef Catherine Walthers demonstrated how to use herbs in cooking, and shared a spring and kale salad with an herb vinaigrette recipe. Later that afternoon, nursery manager David Beck offered insights on fertilizers.

The following week another cookbook author, Susie Middleton, was on hand with Ms. Kapitan to inspire gardeners with a salad-cutting garden class and homemade salad dressing demo.

There were early-season talks on planting fruits, potatoes, onions, and beans. The Memorial Day Saturday session featured edible flowers, tea herbs, and weed-free mulching, followed by “Container Gardening and the Plants that Love Them.”

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For Betsy Larsen and family, the daily sprint in the seasonal marathon begins in May and ends in October.

The Larsens' showcase, full of fresh fish and shellfish and ready for the season. – Photo by Michael Cummo

Even though it was late Sunday afternoon, customers were still crowding into Larsen’s Fish Market, and proprietor Betsy Larsen had been working all day. She was still wearing a big smile with her long green apron.

Deftly shucking oysters and clams in the tiny kitchen, while another staffer steamed lobsters and dished out chowder, Ms. Larsen cheerfully greeted new customers and chatted with old friends.

While not everyone looks forward to the busy summer tourist deluge, for Betsy Larsen, it’s one more reason to smile. She’s happy to see the first customer come through that swinging door in May.

“I’m always excited. That’s why we’re here. If not for the customers, we wouldn’t be here,” said Ms. Larsen, who has run the popular family business for some 36 years, beginning when she was only 19.

Menemsha has come alive for the season over the past few weeks, and Larsen’s is front and center, right on Dutcher Dock, steps from the beach. Louis and Mary Larsen began the business in 1969. Their daughter Betsy began working there at 14, and hasn’t stopped since.

“I was afraid to reach in the tank and pick up a lobster,” Ms. Larsen laughed. “But I learned quick.”

Betsy Larsen is ready for another season at the helm of the popular Larsen's Fish Market in Menemsha. – Photo by Michael Cummo
Betsy Larsen is ready for another season at the helm of the popular Larsen’s Fish Market in Menemsha. – Photo by Michael Cummo

She started out doing retail sales behind the counter. By a year later she was shucking, a skill she’d learned by watching it being done for years.

“Once you know the technique, it’s just practice,” she said, making the precision moves sound easy. She estimated that in midsummer, kitchen workers shuck a bushel of clams and 300 oysters each day.

Years after it began, Larsen’s remains a truly family enterprise. Ms. Larsen counts her sister Kristine Scheffer, her cousins Karsten, Brigida, and Scott Larsen (“one of the fastest oyster shuckers I’ve ever seen”), and even her great-nephew Matteus Scheffer among the store staff. Her cousin Stephen Larsen is a lobsterman, as is her husband, Robert Sloane, who also files catch reports required by the state. Other family members lend a hand when needed.

“They always step in,” Ms. Larsen said. “I’m very fortunate.”

Ms. Larsen said the main change she makes at the business from year to year is hiring new young summer workers to keep the store fully staffed with 8 or 9 people per shift at the height of summer.

This year for the first time she will employ four students from other countries – Jamaica, Moldavia, and Serbia — counting on their ability to work into the fall while local students return to college in August.

Preparation for the season starts about two weeks before opening, although this year’s winter chill hung on so long it was too cold to work, and the crew got a late start. The small wooden building, shut down all winter, must be aired out, scrubbed, and freshly painted, and equipment checked. This year, possibly because of the harsh winter, equipment failures caused a water leak and forced the business to replace two compressors.

Despite weather delays and equipment issues, Larsen’s opened only two days behind schedule, on Saturday, May 2, attracting many customers. Ms. Larsen customarily opens on a Thursday to make sure everything is working smoothly by the weekend, but she was delighted with the busy first day.

Ordering food, especially in springtime, cannot be done far in advance, because business is so dependent on Menemsha’s changeable weather, Ms. Larsen said.

Customer favorites from the kitchen are lobsters, steamers, mussels, the raw bar, and lobster rolls — both cold salad and hot buttered. Customers love the freshly prepared bluefish pâte, tuna spread, and lobster salad from the cooler. In the fish case, swordfish, tuna, and Vineyard sole are bestsellers, with bluefish and striped bass Iater in the season.

Asked what fish she most enjoys selling, Ms. Larsen thought for a moment.

“I love to cut a nice swordfish steak,” she said, breaking into a bright grin.

One of the most unusual requests came from a private chef from Spain, on the Island for the summer. He twice ordered a five-pound octopus. Ms. Larsen gladly complied, having the hefty cephalopods shipped in.

“I never met a fish I didn’t like,” laughed Ms. Larsen when asked about her personal favorites. “I love a good piece of bluefish, I like striped bass. I’m a big swordfish eater, scallops and tuna too. I love lobster. I like yellowtail flounder because it’s so sweet.”

Ms. Larsen said when spring is on the way, she looks forward to the approaching business season. “I never dread it. I’m usually excited. But I always find I didn’t get all the projects done at home I was supposed to do over the winter. Needless to say, they’ll go on the back burner until next year.”

And in October when the last patron leaves?

“I’m sad. I go into the end of the season with mixed feelings. I’m sad, but I’m excited because I don’t have to be in one place, and I don’t have to think about the store all the time.”

Ms. Larsen is grateful she can take the winter off, except for an occasional short stint at her brother Louis’s Vineyard Haven market, The Net Result. “But it takes awhile to wind down after you go and go all summer.”

Once summer gets underway, Ms. Larsen works virtually nonstop. The store stays open until 7 pm, “and we don’t turn people away.” She admits it keeps her from other activities.

“I haven’t been to the fair in 13 years,” she said. “But I try to take at least part of one day off every week — for my mental health.”

What is the best part of her job?

“It’s making the people happy,” Ms. Larsen said with no hesitation. “I love the interaction with the customers. I definitely love that. Seeing a lot of familiar faces. A lot of people have been customers of the store for years. Now I’ve got their children and their grandchildren. That’s kind of fun.”

I just don’t know why they’re all getting older and I’m not,” she quipped. “It must be all that seafood I eat!”

And the worst part? “Cleaning up at the end of the night,” she chuckled, sponge in hand as she wiped down the counter.

“This isn’t too bad of a place to work,” she said, with a wide gesture at her surroundings. “My kitchen sink looks out over the harbor. It doesn’t make the dishes any more fun to wash.”

“I hope we have an uneventful summer,” Ms. Larsen reflected. “No catastrophes, no tragedies. I just want everyone to be happy and have a good time when they come here.”

 

A quarter century of artists supporting local services.

In this file photo, the 2013 opening-night gala drew a big crowd. –File photo by Gail Daman

For more than 25 years, the Friends of Family Planning Art Show and Sale has been a sure sign of spring. In late May, the exhibit fills the Agricultural Hall in West Tisbury with compelling new work by a variety of local artists and artisans, who donate a percentage of their sales to help support Family Planning of Martha’s Vineyard.

Poster by Jack Yuen. –Art courtesy of Friends of Family Planning on Martha's Vineyard
Poster by Jack Yuen. –Art courtesy of Friends of Family Planning on Martha’s Vineyard

More than just a stylish collection of high-quality art, the annual event has long been an important source of income for the busy clinic. The traditional opening night gala allows Vineyarders to socialize with friends whom they might not have seen over the quiet winter months.

This year’s show runs Friday through Sunday, and will be bursting with compelling new creations. Enthusiastic organizers predict that the retooled wine and cheese benefit gala on Saturday night will draw more patrons than ever.

The show was launched more than a quarter-century ago to help support Family Planning’s services. It moved often, starting at Murdick’s Fudge in Vineyard Haven, then to Crispin’s Landing (now LeRoux), to Beadniks, and the Vineyard Playhouse. By the mid-1990s, the event settled into the Ag Hall, a welcoming venue offering extensive display space and parking. The gala was launched in the early years to increase the revenue by inviting guests to talk with artists and purchase art.

Jennifer Knight, Friends of Family Planning board president, said that shifting the annual party to Saturday evening from the usual Thursday will accommodate weekend visitors and locals who are not available on weeknights.

She said this year’s emphasis is on fundraising, and they hope to reach a $100,000 capital-campaign goal. The campaign, announced at the 2013 art show, seeks to raise funds to cover an $80,000 mortgage on the service’s State Road building, and establish a $20,000 maintenance account. About $25,000 remains to be raised.

“We’re getting there,” said Ms. Knight optimistically.

Board members handle every aspect of the event, enlisting artists, setting up the exhibit, planning and hosting the party, greeting visitors, and manning the sales and info desk all weekend.

“We have an extremely active and dedicated board,” commented member Noreen Baker. “The members really believe in the value the clinic has to our community.”

Ms. Baker, who counts herself as a satisfied client of the clinic, praised the caring services she has received there.

A highlight of the annual show is the poster, designed each year by a Regional High School student and chosen in a competition. Jack Yuen, an exceptionally talented student artist, created this year’s striking poster.

Some 100 local artists and artisans will fill the big hall with a breathtaking array of creations. Along with fine art, sculpture, and photography, jewelry, ceramics, textile art, and handmade furniture will be displayed.

New this year are unique pieces by versatile artist Jasmine Thompson and Jeanie Hay Sternbach’s healing crystal jewelry.

Founded in 1978, Family Planning of Martha’s Vineyard provides affordable and confidential reproductive health and family planning services, including screening for anemia, high blood pressure, and diabetes; gynecological exams; counseling and education; pregnancy, sexually transmitted infection (STI) and HIV testing; and birth control. Screening for HPV and hepatitis C is available. Vasectomies are available by referral; reimbursement is offered.

The comfortable clinic on State Road, Vineyard Haven, is supported primarily by federal and state funds through Health Imperatives, a regional umbrella organization. Funds raised by the Friends of Family Planning through the art show, party, and annual appeal pay for many important budget items. The facility serves both men and women, and minors can receive confidential care. Client appointments last as long as needed.

Family Planning offers a generous sliding scale, and free care for anyone who cannot pay; no one is turned away. Site director Brenda Grandizio said that thanks to recent funding from the state Department of Public Health, more generous fee discounts are offered. Insurance is also accepted.

Ms. Grandizio cited several new developments over the year enhancing the clinic’s services.

A new Tuesday-evening session has been added to the Wednesday and Thursday appointment schedule — convenient for patients who cannot come during the day. The clinic has shifted from paper to electronic medical recordkeeping.

A new Gardasil series, a preventive vaccine against HPV and genital warts, is being offered. Soon, a woman patient of the clinic will be able to receive colposcopy — a diagnostic procedure for patients with irregular Pap smears at risk for cervical cancer. The procedure will will be offered by staff Nurse Practitioner Marcy Holmes. Previously, patients traveled off-Island for this critical diagnostic step.

Ms. Grandizio stressed that staffers spend as much time with a patient as needed, and that high priority is placed on following up about concerns.

“We take our patient care really seriously,” said Ms. Grandizio. “We really care. It’s good work we’re doing.”
Friends of Family Planning Art Show and Sale, Ag Hall, West Tisbury. May 22, 23, 24. Free. Benefit party, Saturday, May 23, 6 to 8 pm, $50. For information or to purchase tickets, visit friendsoffamilyplanning.org.

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One year later and with little to go on, California detectives hope for a break in the murder investigation.

Joseph Arceri, Pat Gregory's college roommate, spoke to mourners from the lectern Mr. Gregory commanded at West Tisbury town meetings at a memorial service held at the Ag Hall last year.

Late Friday morning on May 16, 2014, longtime West Tisbury town moderator Francis “Pat” Gregory, 69, was shot and killed while hiking in California. He had been enjoying a vacation with his wife, Dorothy.

Mr. Gregory and his hiking companion, a 76-year-old male friend from the small nearby town of Manton, Calif., were about 100 yards from the trailhead parking lot in the Sacramento River Bend Outstanding Natural Area, just off heavily traveled Highway 36E, when they encountered a man who robbed and then shot them. The men did not resist, according to police.

A hiker found the victims about three hours after the shooting. Mr. Gregory died. His companion survived.

The news left the small town of West Tisbury and countless people across the Island stunned and grieving. Mr. Gregory, 69, a former West Tisbury School mathematics teacher who moved here with his wife and two children in 1971, had served as West Tisbury town moderator since 1991.

He and Dorothy owned and operated EduComp, the computer, office, and art-supply business they founded in 1985, housed in a well-known brick building at the intersection of Main Street and State Road in Vineyard Haven. He had served on many Island boards. An athlete and sports lover, he had coached youth soccer, and took pleasure in many hours on the golf course.

Days after Mr. Gregory’s tragic death, on May 28, an unprecedented throng of mourners filed into the vast Agricultural Hall in West Tisbury for a standing-room-only memorial service and celebration of life for their friend and neighbor.

More than 3,000 miles away, as the investigation progressed, police released a sketch of the suspect, and offered a $5,000 reward for his arrest and subsequent prosecution and conviction.

“Somehow, somewhere”

Red Bluff is about four hours north of San Francisco by car, and about two hours north of Sacramento. The trail the men were on is regularly used by hikers and people going to the river to fish. A local reporter described Red Bluff as a small community, “just a rural cow town.”

One year later, Tehama County detectives admit that at this point they need a break.

In a telephone conversation Tuesday, Detective Jeff Garrett said investigators followed what leads there were, but at this juncture there is nothing new.

In this file photo, local police searched for clues at the Sacramento River Bend's Iron Canyon Trailhead off of State Route 36E after receiving a report of two victims of gunshot wounds. — Red Bluff Daily News
In this file photo, local police searched for clues at the Sacramento River Bend’s Iron Canyon Trailhead off of State Route 36E after receiving a report of two victims of gunshot wounds. — Red Bluff Daily News

“We still do whatever we can on our end,” he said, “and the FBI is also working it on their end. What they’re doing is looking at like events or other scenarios throughout the country to what took place here to see if there is any correlation between them.”

Detective Garrett said investigators looked at local suspects, but there has been no evidence to suggest the killer was from the area, or that it was anything but “an extremely random event.”

He said that generally speaking, local people eventually talk to someone, and the prospect of a reward for any information would be expected to provide leads on the department’s tip line, but that has not been the case.

Then again, he added, he has not ruled a local out. “It could be anybody,” he said.

Detective Garrett said the killer took the men’s wallets, containing credit cards, and cell phones, and likely disposed of both quickly. The credit cards were never used, and a search for the wallets turned up nothing.

“With the cell phones, you would think we could get somewhere with that, but that never panned out for us either,” he said. “And we fought the cell phone companies for months on end about getting some cell phone information, and we got very limited, and primarily I think the phone was either destroyed or taken apart pretty recently after the shootings, which is frustrating. We just can’t catch a break.”

Detective Garrett said one option under discussion is to seek more national attention, for example on The Hunt, a reality crime show hosted by John Walsh, creator of America’s Most Wanted.

Mr. Garrett said Tehama County is not immune to violence: “We have our murders, we have homicides, but typically there’s always a purpose behind it, whether it is a gang shooting or domestic violence, or something like that, not just completely random off the side of a highway. It just makes no sense to us.”

Detective Garrett remains confident that the killer will eventually reveal himself. “In time, it’s going to come out. We just don’t know when. Somehow, somewhere, somebody’s going to say something.”

The family reflects

The Times contacted Shannon Gregory Carbon, the daughter of Pat and Dorothy Gregory, last week, asking if she and her family would be willing to respond to several questions about the California police investigation. The family declined to do so, and issued the following statement: “We prefer not to comment publicly on the pending investigation at this time.”

In this file photo, three generations of Gregory women — Dorothy with her granddaughter Bess and daughter Shannon — smile to well wishers after the service.
In this file photo, three generations of Gregory women — Dorothy with her granddaughter Bess and daughter Shannon — smile to well wishers after the service.

Ms. Carbon went on to offer her own reflections, and those gathered from her family members, about the impact of the loss of their husband and father, and their experiences of rebuilding and continuing their lives for these past 12 months without him.

“My father’s death was shocking to many,” wrote Ms. Carbon in her email. “The violent end to his life lay in marked contrast to the way he lived every day. The Island and beyond treated my father’s death and our family with uncommon decency. For that, I will be forever grateful.

“There are too many people to name who swept in and ensured that our family remains healthy and happy,” she added. “Much of what has been done for us is personal and ongoing.”

Ms. Carbon offered several examples of the meaningful ways that Island neighbors have supported and comforted her family this year, and described how important to them even small, everyday kindness has been.

“The West Tisbury, Tisbury, M.V. Public Charter School students and staff, and the superintendent’s office staff, wrapped our children tight, and offered the time as well as space to handle our family’s affairs and grieving,” Ms. Carbon reflected.

She expressed appreciation for Ron Rappaport, who, she recalled, had written to Dorothy Gregory about “uncommon decency,” a phrase that has become significant to her.

“I am thankful he placed those words in our mouths at the time of Dad’s death,” she said. “Those words were precise at a time when it was difficult to be clearheaded. They have also made me think a lot about the way I want to live my own life. The words spoken and written to us by so many have been helpful in various capacities.”

Ms. Carbon named Scott Amaral, attendant at the Edgartown transfer station, as someone who made a comforting difference for her — “someone who stood out for me, and he probably never realized it.

“He gave me a hug every time I brought the recycling this past summer, and still asks about my family in a kind way. He and I went to elementary school together.”

“There has been something about former classmates — who knew my father as a teacher and as my father when I was young — that has especially touched me. Scott epitomizes the simple kindness so many people have shown us on a continual basis.”

Tim Gregory took the opportunity to reflect on some of his father’s strong beliefs.

“I once asked my father how he felt about spirituality,” he wrote. “He said he believed that a person’s spirit lived on in the memories of the living. And in that way, he felt, a person never dies. I believe it too — both good and bad — and in my father’s case, nearly always for the better.

“Pat believed that sports held the power to unite and that athletics was often ahead of its time regarding racial equality.

“He was a believer in reserving judgment, and I have met few others as even-keeled.”

Dorothy Gregory offered a poignant reflection on her life during the year since the loss of her husband.

“One way I have gotten through is my grandchildren, Jack and Bess. When I think I’ll never know joy again, I know I have to exhibit hope for their sake.”

Good has come of this

Shannon Gregory Carbon delivered the following tribute at her father’s memorial service at the Agricultural Hall on May 28, 2014, and said she continues to believe in these words:

In this file photo, Pat Gregory stands in his familiar place at the West Tisbury town meeting podium.
In this file photo, Pat Gregory stands in his familiar place at the West Tisbury town meeting podium.

“Over the past days, without Dad, there has been less laughter and more tears in our lives. The time alone in California with just Tim, Mom, and me was essential. I feel as though my brother and I are rebuilding ourselves together. And, I think that may be the one thing my father most wanted of me.

“So, good has come of this.

“There is anger in our community, I have heard and read it. I am trying, like Dad would, to respect that people need to feel what they feel, say what they say, do what they do. But, so far I am not angry and I am thankful for that.

“Dad was not a man of vengeance. I believe that we must learn from his death. Look around at our loved ones. Make sure we are treating them with uncommon decency. Believe in the potential of all people, not just the fortunate, the pretty, the easy. Do what you can in your own way, do what is right for you. Let’s come together and help strengthen this society of ours, which is ultimately a place of good.

“Obrigada. Thank you.”

 

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The library lobby will welcome the community to a place he cherished.

From left, Ron Rappaport, Dorothy Gregory, Shannon Gregory Carbon, and Bess Carbon listening to the kind words spoken about Pat Gregory. – Photos by Lisa Vanderhoop

On Sunday afternoon, nearly one year to the day since Pat Gregory was killed, friends, neighbors, and colleagues streamed into the West Tisbury library for a ceremony which dedicated the lobby in his honor. The crowd of more than 75 packed the spacious, light-filled lobby, overflowing into adjoining rooms. A table displayed a color photo of Mr. Gregory, his friendly, cheerful face familiar to all; a poem in his honor by outgoing Poet Laureate Justen Ahren; and programs from his memorial last May, when mourners filled the Agricultural Hall to bursting. Daffodils adorned every surface, gifts from townspeople happy to contribute to this special event.

The plaque on the wall at the West Tisbury library.
The plaque on the wall at the West Tisbury library.

Mr. Gregory, West Tisbury’s well-liked and respected town moderator for 23 years, a community-minded business owner, family man, and friend to many, was robbed and shot to death on a California hiking trail on May 16, 2014, leaving Islanders shocked and saddened. It was evident that his loss was still deeply felt by those gathered on Sunday.

Mr. Gregory’s widow, Dorothy, and their daughter Shannon Carbon stood before the front entry. His granddaughter Bess, 6, wore a bright red dress and snuggled close to her mother and grandmother. Mr. Gregory’s grandson, 8-year-old Jack, stood beside his father Dan Carbon, wearing his Giants baseball uniform for an upcoming practice.

Selectman Cynthia Mitchell stepped to the podium and asked for a moment of silence, then pianist David Stanwood began to play a meditative Irish lament.

Speaker Cynthia Mitchell, chairman of the West Tisbury Board of Selectman, giving tribute to Pat Gregory.
Speaker Cynthia Mitchell, chairman of the West Tisbury Board of Selectman, giving tribute to Pat Gregory.

Ms. Mitchell welcomed the crowd on behalf of the West Tisbury Library Trustees and selectmen, and said that she had initially felt a memorial to Mr. Gregory should be at the town hall, because of his importance to town government. But after learning of his strong connection to the library, she realized how appropriate this location was.

Pausing several times to regain her composure, Ms. Mitchell shared comments written by the children’s librarian, Nelia Decker.

“Watching Pat with his grandchildren, Jack and Bessie, brought us such joy,” wrote Ms. Decker. “He and the kids visited the library regularly, even in our cramped temporary quarters.”

There were daffodils on most surfaces.
There were daffodils on most surfaces.

Ms. Decker recounted the little girl’s love of certain fairy books, and her grandfather’s doting presence. “Bessie would ask for a particular title, and Pat would have to bend his long, lanky body in half to peer at the titles on the lowest shelf. He treated her request with utmost respect and consideration, at the same time with a twinkle in his eye. The kids loved being read to, and he spent many hours reading patiently to them. He so honored them, their choices and their time together at the library,” Ms. Decker concluded.

“And so it makes perfect sense to honor him here,” said Ms. Mitchell. “Like town meeting, this too is a community gathering place in which he was a solid and comforting presence.”

The proposal to dedicate the lobby to Mr. Gregory had begun with library staff and officials, was quickly embraced by selectmen, and placed on the annual town meeting warrant in April. The voters approved the measure unanimously.

“Today,” continued Ms. Mitchell, “after nearly a year of mourning and remembrance, we follow the town meeting’s wishes, and hereby dedicate this space in memory of our dear friend and town moderator Pat Gregory.”

Pat Gregory's family: From left, Shannon, Bess, and Dorothy outside the newly dedicated Pat Gregory lobby in the West Tisbury library.
Pat Gregory’s family: From left, Shannon, Bess, and Dorothy outside the newly dedicated Pat Gregory lobby in the West Tisbury library.

Shannon Gregory Carbon, as had Ms. Mitchell, took a deep breath before speaking as she surveyed the crowd circled closely around her and her family.

“Visiting the library was a ritual for my father,” Ms. Carbon said. “On Monday nights, he and my mother had a standing date here. Other times, Dad waited patiently as our children, Jack and Bess, chose their books. And before that, he waited on my brother and me. How perfect that our beautiful library is in the heart of town. For me, it is our town’s beating heart. The stories, the poetry, the music, and the neighbors found here are nourishment for the soul. A library’s contents have healing power and can transform a person’s perspective — no matter where one resides.

“Again, a deep-felt thank you to West Tisbury, and beyond, for the kindness you have shown our family,” said Ms. Carbon. “My father would have loved to be here today.”

Then it was time for reminiscing, sharing, warm hugs. In the community room, tables offered savory snacks and cold drinks. A television monitor played the 2008 annual town meeting, Moderator Pat Gregory presiding.

“Pat Gregory was the epitome of a man who lived his life with grace,” said Lynne Whiting, member and former vice chair of the library foundation. “It will be wonderful each time we walk into the library to be reminded of him and how he treated others.”

The crowd at the dedication of the lobby at the West Tisbury Public Library.
The crowd at the dedication of the lobby at the West Tisbury Public Library.

“It would be far better to have Pat here,” said Sherman Goldstein, reflecting on a close, many-faceted friendship with Mr. Gregory that endured for decades. “Our lives intertwined in a wonderful tapestry. There’s a rent in the fabric of our lives without him.”

Dan Waters, library trustee and new town moderator, remembered Mr. Gregory’s assistance when he presented the library’s capital-campaign information at town meetings. “He helped me put my case before the voters,” Mr. Waters said. “He welcomed people into the process and made a safe place for them to speak.”

“We wanted to dedicate space to Pat, but not just from the library trustees or selectmen. It was important to make that gesture and have the voters speak in favor of it,” Mr. Waters explained. “This is the town’s lobby, and they voted for it. Our aim was to be as inclusive as possible, because that’s what Pat would have wanted.”

Lynne Whiting and Dan Waters.
Lynne Whiting and Dan Waters.

Linda Hearn, library board of trustees chairman, recalled her nervousness speaking about the measure at town meeting, and gratitude at the positive vote. “I think it’s very appropriate to dedicate the lobby to Pat,” she said. “He was a big part of the town, and this is really a town gathering place.”

“I was really pleased with the dedication ceremony,” said library director Beth Kramer. “It was quiet and respectful. We got to embrace Pat’s family and honor him. The fact that Dorothy and Shannon were pleased with it was the most important thing, and to have everybody there with them a year later.”

“It’s very much in keeping with what Pat would have done,” observed writer Niki Patton, admiring the simple gray plaque with black print, its wording chosen by the family. “He would have said, ‘Don’t make a fuss.’”

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The lively give-and-take discussion highlighted hurdles, resources, and common themes.

The panel of eight women entrepreneurs shared their experience, advice, and wisdom with a mostly female audience of 55 that crowded the culinary arts dining room. – Photo by Michael Cummo

Energy and enthusiasm ran high at the Women Entrepreneurs of MV: Revitalization Forum held at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School Tuesday morning. The panel of eight women entrepreneurs shared their experience, advice, and wisdom with a mostly female audience of 55 that crowded the culinary arts dining room.

The event was billed as “an opportunity to network, exchange resources, and plan future gatherings to share, empower, and educate women in business.”

The professionally and ethnically diverse panel ranged widely in experience, education, and background. It included a dentist, an herbalist-author, a medical clinic director, management consultant, shop owner/jewelry maker, and others. Equally varied, the audience drew together educators, writers, business owners, and consultants in many fields, along with several RHS students. The students, all WINFO members, helped facilitate the event as well.

Vineyard Gazette publisher Jane Seagrave moderated the 90-minute session.

Each panelist made a short opening presentation, based on three questions posed by organizers: “How did you got involved in your business/work? What hurdles and challenges have you encountered as women entrepreneurs and as Islanders? What advice would you offer?” Speakers later responded to questions from the audience in a lively give-and-take.

 

Goal focused

Although panelists’ personal stories differed, recurrent themes ran through their talks. Many cited the value of doing what you love, maintaining focus, staying committed to goals even when obstacles arise, self-care, taking risks, and gathering supportive allies as colleagues, board members, or advisers.

“Make sure you bring yourself and others joy through your business,” advised Holly Bellebuono, an herbalist, author, speaker, and workshop leader.

Like all the panelists, Ms. Bellebuono gave suggestions that were applicable to many professions and areas of life. She recalled learning that in goal-setting “being SMART,” an acronym for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound was important for success.

Holly Bellebuono, an herbalist and author, advised participants to bring joy through their endeavors. – Photo by Michael Cummo
Holly Bellebuono, an herbalist and author, advised participants to bring joy through their endeavors. – Photo by Michael Cummo

“But you need to go further,” she said, adding that it is also important to “be WISE.” Standing for wholistic, imaginative, sustainable, and enjoyable, the acronym highlights the need for support, creativity, lasting goals, and enjoyment in work.

Julie Fay, executive director of Martha’s Vineyard Community Services since 2013, related how she had entered human services work through a Boston volunteer job as a college student in the 1970s. The work with juvenile delinquents was daunting, but she stuck with it, soon taking a job with the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services, and embarking on a human services career spanning several decades.

She pointed to the value of taking risks in work, to learn both what one is and is not able to do.

“Anything can be accomplished if you have the right people on your team,” she added.

Dentist Karen Gear moved to the Vineyard from New York City seeking a less stressful and more neighborly lifestyle after 9/11. But relocating her dental practice here entailed significant challenges, from finding an appropriate commercial space and financing the new business, to finding qualified staff. But she determinedly met the challenges, and now operates Martha’s Vineyard Endodontics in the Tisbury Marketplace.

“If you want to be your own boss, you have to take risks,” Dr. Gear said.

For Judy Jones, coming to the Island and becoming originally clinical and now medical director at Island Health Care, the rural health center, was an important step in realizing a lifelong wish.

Discouraged from applying to nursing school as a teen, she became a medical secretary as she was advised. But later she returned to school and earned her nursing degree. Despite financial pressures and being a single mother, she stayed committed to her career, and age 52 she received her doctorate, a longstanding goal. She recalled that her father’s early admonition to get an education had proved invaluable.

Berta Giles Welch said that as a July baby, she “grew up” in her family’s shop on the Gay Head Cliffs. She now is co-owner of Stony Creek Gifts, and makes contemporary wampum jewelry with family members. She also chairs the Aquinnah Cultural Center, and said that in both roles her goal is “to bring something unique to the Island.”

Ms. Welch said that people sometimes seek advice about beginning a business on the Vineyard.

“I ask people what they can bring to Martha’s Vineyard. Not everything fits in. You really want to make a good fit for the Island,” Ms. Welch explained.

Speaking from Zurich via Skype, Eleanor Tabi Haller-Jorden, president and CEO of Paradigm Forum GmbH, offered insights gleaned from her extensive work in global leadership, workplace design, cross-cultural management, women’s empowerment, and social justice.

Her business is unique, relying heavily on technology and virtual collaboration. With a small core staff in Switzerland, and 43 project-oriented consultants from various fields worldwide, the company maintains no physical workplaces.

The recommendations she offered to anyone establishing a business are to leverage technology, maintain flexible work arrangements, and establish supportive working boards. Intending to open a Vineyard office in 2016, Ms. Haller-Jorden said she is confident that the isolation of being on an Island will not be a problem, thanks to technology.

A regional high school grad, Liz Rothwell described the circuitous path to her present professional position. It began with waiting on tables every summer to earn college money. After graduating, she approached the Harbor View Hotel, asking for work in event planning. Instead, they hired her as an accounting assistant. Finally she was offered a post in event planning, then became director of marketing and special events for the Harbor View and Kelley House. Recently she was named regional director of marketing for Scout Hotels, overseeing six properties on the Cape and islands.

“Hard work and doing something that may not be exactly what you want to do to get your foot in the door pays off,” Ms. Rothwell said.

“There are many paths to what you want, and you need to keep your eye on the ball,” summed up Jane Seagrave. She said that although she, like some other panelists, had not faced the financial burden of starting her own business, leaving a successful Associated Press career in New York to become publisher of the Vineyard Gazette represented a personal risk. “I was drawn by the sense of community on the Vineyard,” she said.

 

Participants share advice

During the question and answer segment, audience members eagerly sought advice about how to begin, move ahead with, and thrive in business endeavors. Panelists addressed how to identify and stay focused on goals, maintain personal balance and well-being in a busy job, and adjust to changing workplace expectations and demands.

Vineyard Gazette publisher Jane Seagrave moderated the event. – Photo by Michael Cummo
Vineyard Gazette publisher Jane Seagrave moderated the event. – Photo by Michael Cummo

“You have to define the service you want to provide,” Dr. Gear said. For her the focus was on offering a needed service, quality dental care.

“Start with your passion, then narrow it,” recommended Ms. Bellebuono. “Ask What is it that I do that nobody else can?”

The successful herbalist offered some hints for maximizing productivity. Her day revolves around her family, she said. Work begins when her two children go to school, and ends with the afternoon school bell. She splits her day between creative endeavors in the morning and practical business chores later. She even has established two spaces in her home, to accommodate those two aspects of her work life.

Some stressed the importance of considering attitude and values along with skills in prospective employees. Ms. Fay pointed to the value of making the most of younger and newer staff by delegating responsibility to them.

“Throw them in the deep end of the pool,” she suggested.

Audience member Shelly Davis, a behavioral psychologist, offered a tip for productive goal setting and improving focus. Set measurable goals, she urged.

“They need to be small, tiny, something you can do in 10 minutes, not in 10 years!”

Added another audience member, “As you achieve those goals, give yourself a little pat on the back.”

Ms. Jones said that caring for one’s own needs and relationships, especially when job demands are high, is of utmost importance.

“Invest in the best diet you can, take time to meditate, enjoy the arts … get outdoors. Take time out for yourself,” Ms. Jones advised. “I want my patients to live well and healthy, and I want to live well and healthy too.”

As a welcome postscript to the morning of vibrant sharing, India Rose of Lavish Martha’s Vineyard, an event- and wedding-planning business, announced she is working to revitalize MVWN, which has been dormant for some months. It will be rechristened C.E.O., for Creative Entrepreneur with Opportunities, working to support, connect, and inspire Island professional and business women.

Sponsors were ACE MV, the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce, the Martha’s Vineyard Women’s Network, and MVRHS WINFO (a student organization aiming to create opportunities and career inspiration for young women). Lynn Ditchfield, founder and program director of ACE, worked on organizing the event in consultation with teacher and WINFO advisor Corinne Kurtz, and Jan Pogue, Vineyard Stories publisher.