A Life Remembered

    

The first Monday of every month we tell the story of a community member who has passed away, celebrating individuals whose lives made an impact on their family and neighbors.

If you have suggestions about community members who should be highlighted in this series, send an email to our station mailbox.

For archives of A Life Remembered, including episodes dating from before October 2012, go to the A Life Remembered Archives

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Tuckernuck Island off Nantucket feels like a place out of time. With just a few dozen homes connected by grassy roads, it’s held onto its wild character and sense of the past. That’s probably in part because it’s pretty remote. But it’s also thanks to the efforts and presence of Bam La Farge.

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When the irresistible force known as Ruth Bates walked into a classroom, wearing her signature red high top sneakers, her students knew immediately that it would be no ordinary class.

A teacher, gardener, cook, baker, traveler, hiker and sailor, Bates’s zest for life and boundless energy fired her students’ imagination, enabling them to tap into their own creativity.

Colleague Diane Perry said Bates’s passion for learning and teaching were equaled only by her love of the natural world.

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Emblazoned below the image of a full-rigged ship, the old Tabor’s motto proclaims “All-A-Taut,” a nautical turn of phrase entirely consistent with the salty ambience of this seaport town. For more than 40 of her 82 years, Betty Durfee was the school’s head nurse. It was a good fit. Durfee was old school too. She ran the infirmary and, in keeping with the school motto, people who knew her say she ran a very tight ship.

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Before the tool belts were strapped on or the first nail was pounded, Don Dickinson was looking over plans, writing proposals and talking to people. He was doing the groundwork.

"He was just dedicated to the idea that people should be able to afford a decent place to live if they were working folks," said Warren Brody, a Mashpee-based attorney, and Dickinson's friend. Brody also volunteers at Habitat for Humanity of Cape Cod.

Harold Purington  grew up in Framingham and lived the last 11 years of his life in Fairhaven. Harold was a World War II pilot, a devoted family man, and a born craftsman who brought joy to many people over the years through his woodworking creations.

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After retiring from military and government work in the mid-1970s, George Webbere needed something to do. He had the garden to tend in the spring and summer. But when it turned cold, one of the things Webbere did was produce radio programs for the blind, including a story hour - one that became syndicated across the country throughout the Radio Reading Network.

NARRATION: “The next mystery program is the story Venus Fly Trap by Ruth Randell…."

That’s Charlie Webbere, narrating.

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Helen Jean Lewis already was in her 90s when she moved to the Royal Nursing Center in Falmouth, three years ago, and it was a long life’s journey that brought her here  — 94 years that she filled with travel and music, prayer and food.

The following is an excerpt of the Life Remembered featuring Helen Jean Lewis. To hear the full story, click the LISTEN button above.

Paul Smith

In the second half of her life, Mary Lou Smith became known for being the person who knew the most about Falmouth history, and perhaps, the person who cared the most about saving it.

After raising four daughters in Woods Hole with her husband, Paul Smith, she turned to historic preservation starting in her early sixties. Among her most enduring accomplishments was editing "The Book of Falmouth," a volume of photographs, memories, and history that has become an important historical reference. It was published to coincide with Falmouth's 300th anniversary in 1986.

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This May will mark two years since her husband Peter died, and Kerry Gonnella's greatest fear is that he will be forgotten.

"I don't want his memory to fade," she said. "That's what happens. People die, people move on. Which is fine. That's life. But I want people to remember him."

Peter Gonnella was the father of three children. He also was a coach and a teacher. His student-athletes describe him as a charismatic person who inspired them. They say that he cared about them. And that's not something people forget.

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In his retirement, Marston Daley wrote an autobiography called, "The Little Imp of Cape Cod." In it, he said his mom gave him the name Marston because she thought it couldn't be made into a nickname. She was wrong. Marston had lots of nicknames. His mom called him the Little Imp. And he writes that over the years people called him Marst, Jim, Tim, even Bud. His wife Jean, who everyone calls Birdie, said that many people have another name for Marston.

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