Oak Bluffs: saying goodbye to Donald Billings

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The sun does not seem to be shining as much, and there is a pallor of sadness over the town, since the death of Donald Billings last week. Donald was a friend to so many and such a good friend to the town. His hard work for the town Fire Department spanned many decades, and when you admire the new fire station, please remember the sweat equity and faithfulness of those who laid the foundation for the present station. It started when the late Chief Nelson Amaral, Assistant Chief Billy Norton, retired Chief Dennis Alley, and Captain Donald Billings first worked so hard on the old fire station on Wing Road along with many firefighters some 40 years ago. When it became apparent that that station no longer was adequate for what was needed in a modern station, a new generation became the planners and did the work to replace it. Then a few years ago, Donald and Billy Norton, although both had retired, dreamed the dream and did the work to make possible the Fire Museum. Donald constantly worked on getting donations of labor and materials for the building, and the landscaping you see there now. Saturday last, we all said goodbye to this good man. FFirefighters fire apparatus from all over the Island, honor guards, and an overflowing church gave proof of a life lived unselfishly for others. The procession from the church to the cemetery ran the lengths of many streets, and was greeted by mourners in abundance at Sacred Heart Cemetery. To Nancy, Davy, Amy, and their partners and grandchildren, be assured that your Donald was well-loved and will be missed.

Nate Luce, the brand-new program coordinator at the Oak Bluffs library, has scheduled some great programs. On Thursday the 12th, local author Holly Nadler is reading from her new book, “Emily in the Here and Now” at 6 pm. The book is a novel of friendship and adventure, and of Emily Dickinson returning from the dead to teach at an Amherst liberal arts college. And on Saturday the 14th, the library is hosting “Inside Cover: Meet Your Library Staff” from 2 to 2:30 pm. It is a revue of sorts, as a way for all the staff to introduce themselves to the public, as there have been a host of personnel changes. Everyone who works at the library will be present to share something special about themselves. Light refreshments will be served at both events.

Administrative assistant Carolina will be leading an all-ages Thanksgiving crafting session on Nov. 19. She will show you how to make all kinds of seasonal decorations, table centerpieces included.

The new Island Wide Youth Collaborative (IWYC) announces an upcoming Community Open House on the Martha’s Vineyard Community Services campus on Saturday, Nov. 14, from 11 am to 3 pm. This will be in celebration of the opening of the new building, built by Squash Meadow Construction. The event is free and open to the public. The IWYC brings to the Island professional, clinical, and other supports to address issues like substance abuse, self-harm, eating disorders, etc., for children, adolescents, and young adults through age 26 and their families.

In addition to touring the new building and getting to know programs and services offered at the IWYC, the Open House is an opportunity to get to know the staff and partners that make up the program. They will all be on hand to meet the public and answer any questions visitors may have. How fortunate we have to have access to so many resources.

Birthday smiles time, and I almost lost my great-grandmother status last week for omitting smiles to my great-grandson Ethan Gunnar Rivers on the occasion of his first birthday on Nov. 10. So here is a smile for you, although two days late. Smiles go to Kati Davey on Nov. 13, Manny deBettencourt on the 14th, Pat Alley and Barbara Humber on the 15th, and Barbara Dugan, Nathan Averill, and Cathy Parker on the 18th.

Enjoy your week. Peace.