Category Archives: Celebrations
and taking pause to appreciate long-standing service to our Westport Island community…
On Sunday, August 5, friends and family celebrated Richard DeVries’ 80th birthday at the Town Hall. This milestone presents a good opportunity to celebrate Richard and his many services to the Island.
Richard has been a cornerstone of services to Westport Island families. He has served as an RSU #12 School Board member since its startup – a challenging job that he takes very seriously. In this capacity, Richard has worked hard to improve the fairness of the funding formula impacting Westport Island residents and to bring pre-Kindergarten services to the district.
As owner of the “Ferry Landing” house on Ferry Road, Richard has taken on the stewardship of our town’s public boat landing and park — the Wright Landing — as a personal mission. He acted as the property manager to the town-owned Wright House while it was rented to a private resident — keeping the Selectmen informed of needed maintenance, overseeing repairs and often taking on the role of “handyman”. As Chair of the Wright Landing Committee, he and his committee oversee and manage the installation and removal of the landing’s docks in the spring and fall as well as the maintenance of the grounds and facilities. They also support the work of the Horticulture Committee to keep the property beautiful.
Although he’s not on the Board of Directors of Helping Hands, he is married to Linda Davis who is; and he is a reliable partner in responding to Islanders in need. Both of them regularly help Islanders in need with: rides to appointments, assistance with food and heating needs through Helping Hands, and help with a myriad of other personal crises. During extended power outages, he and Linda monitor those with medical equipment or special needs who may need a portable generator to keep medical equipment operating.
Presently, he also serves on the town’s Comprehensive Planning Committee — a monumental job for all involved. Members are involved in creating a “road map” for the future of the Island and its resources. The plan they are charged with creating analyzes Island data and resident input to make recommendations regarding growth, housing, land use, transportation and other community resources and services. If you haven’t yet provided your input, doing so now would be a good way to honor the work of Richard, his fellow committee members and the importance of volunteerism in keeping Westport Island’s engine running… (the deadline is August 30)
Happy birthday Richard and thank you for helping to make life on Westport Island “the way life should be.”
Taking the Penguin Plunge into Linekin Bay
Westport Islanders Edward and Lydia Kitfield have celebrated New Year’s Day since the early 2000’s by participating in the Boothbay Region YMCA’s Penguin Plunge. The chilly New Year’s benefit “plunge” into Linekin Bay from the public boat ramp on Murray Hill Road benefits the YMCA’s swimming program for second graders.
Lydia said that she and her husband were once part of a medical team on an excursion to Antarctica. They visited Deception Island which is home to a volcano and several crater bays. Lydia and Edward swam on Deception Island, and figured if they could swim in Antarctica, why not Maine. The two also take “dips” into the frigid waters of Montsweag Bay near their home from time to time… Wow!
May we all have the spirit and sense of adventure in 2017 shared by the Kitfields on this beautiful New Year’s Day!
Snapshots of a Westport Community Association event
As we draw the curtains on this Christmas season, a quick peek back at the Westport Community Association’s Island Christmas Program…
Thanks to Emily Small, Flutter Focus Photography, we have some photos to memorialize neighbors being neighbors: singing Christmas carols in the church and lighting the first community Christmas tree in many years — perhaps a new annual tradition. Join with your neighbors to be a part of next year’s celebration.
From the Westport Island Town Office
About 40 people filtered in and out of the Town Office’s annual holiday open house on Tuesday. They brought food, well wishes and appreciation for a small town way of life.
One of our newest residents made an appearance: 2-month old Ivan Wiles. Santa sledded in. And visitors got a listen to the newly formed duo of Santa and elf Richard Gray singing “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.” The performance left us looking forward to next year when they have had a tad more time to practice and learn the words.
To those who did not receive well wishes in person on Tuesday, Merry Christmas! May you enjoy time with friends and family and bring good memories of this holiday season into 2017.
Masquerade and hocus pocus at the Town Hall
The Community Association’s annual Halloween party included pirates, a bat, a convict, a jester, a zombie bride, town elders and a fairy princess that turned her grandma into a rabbit. Were Vincent Van Gogh and King Arthur also spotted? No, it wasn’t Van Gogh! It was Bob Ross, PBS’s silly artist, promoting “his” philosophy that “there are no mistakes – just happy accidents.”
Fashionistas wore black and white, and the dashing Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara grabbed the spotlight. Scarlett was the belle of the ball with a hooped ball gown fashioned from drapes — with the rod still attached — winning her accolades for most original costume.
Deciding awards for most original, funniest and scariest costumes taxed Judges Deborah Williams, Christy Hopkins and Debbie Speed. All of the masqueraders exhibited award-winning Halloween spirit. One must wonder what the loon, who has been presiding over town hall events since 1889, thought of the Halloween hijinks.
Photo credits for “Bob Ross” to Johnny Scott and for the fairy princess to Laurie Jaramillo
Celebrating 79 years; 61 years on Westport…
Born in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts and raised down the road in Dresden Mills, Althea Fitch came to Westport when she married Jud Cromwell in 1955. She’s been here ever since.
In that time, Althea has been an active participant in island life. Her proudest achievement was raising three sons — Thomas, Michael and Brian — largely on her own. And, as any one of them would tell you, the three of them were a handful. They have great admiration and love for their mom. To show it, they worked with friends and family to organize a surprise celebration to let her “feel the love” for all she is and has done.
Althea was a charter member of the Wiscasset Ambulance Service — serving Westport as an EMT in the 1970’s. In the 1990’s, she ran the Pumpkin Press with a partner. The Pumpkin Press was an antique letterpress shop on the island. Its published works included a reprint of another islander’s poetry — Henry Swanton’s 1922 “The Coast of Maine and Other Verses” and a historical booklet, The Wiscasset Ships, a remembrance of the Hesper and the Luther Little.
When oral historian Susan Bowditch interviewed Althea, two things struck her — one expected: “what you see is what you get” — she is firm in her opinions and frank. …Another was less expected: Althea loves to dance… Lessons started as a young child continued until she was 17. Dance is her passion — her favorite is tap dancing. To this day, you might get a glimpse of her dancing to Lawrence Welk on a Saturday night as you pass by her house.
As the wife and mother of lobstermen, Althea is “one” with cruising the island’s waters. She loves sitting in the back of Mike’s lobster boat and feeding the seagulls — not so good for his lobstering business, because the seagulls get more bait than the bait bags. Inside pastimes include sewing, needlepoint, knitting and crocheting — valuable skills when she was a member of Westport Willing Workers. The Willing Workers, active from the 1960’s to the 1980’s, organized fundraising dinners and made crafts and quilts for raffles to benefit the town. They cleaned the Town Hall (including the outhouses), bought the first tables and planted the shrubs at the Town Hall. Later, she was a contributor to the 2011 Westport Island quilt that was designed and assembled by 18 island women to create a traditional fabric narrative of life on Westport. She created “The Lincoln County Flag” square.
If you’ve fallen on hard times and need a hand from Helping Hands’ Island Food Pantry, you’ve likely met or spoken to Althea who is the neighbor with a key and commitment to helping Island families. And, if you are more fortunate and have donated to Helping Hands, the carefully written thank you notes initialed “AC” come from Althea.
Happy Birthday Althea!
On Sunday, August 16, the Town Hall was dressed for a party — with quilts papering the walls, and arts and crafts decorating the walking space. People were admiring, smiling and saying hello. The Community Church was alive with music. It was a fitting way to pay respects to the the role the Community Association has played through the years in defining the word “community” for our town.
Here’s a peek at the celebration honoring a community institution that has “roots in the rock”…
…of putting the spirit of “community” into a town
Whether caretaking community landmarks, building community identity, showcasing Island talent or sparking community spirit, the Westport Community Association has played a key role.
The Community Association will be marking 60 years of community service this Sunday, August 16, with a celebration at the Town Hall and the Community Church, 1217 Main Road. The Town Hall will be showcasing old and new Island made quilts, arts, and crafts; while a “Musical Celebration” fills the church. Come one, come all — the events are free; refreshments will be served.
The Community Association was formed in 1955 primarily to restore the Westport Community Church. After being used for church services and Sunday School from 1864 to the 1900’s, the building had fallen into disrepair. After repairing and returning religious services to the church for ten years, the Maine Methodist Conference gave the church to the Community Association. Thanks to the stewardship of the Association, the church is an Island landmark used for weddings and memorial services as well as the yearly Island Christmas Program.
Beyond the church, the Association has undertaken fundraising on behalf of countless projects for the betterment of Island life: the fire station; “comfort” renovations at the historic Town Hall (ceiling fans, a well, plumbing and modernized restrooms); and support of historical milestones such as Lincoln County’s Bicentennial in 1960 and the Island’s Sesquicentennial in 1978.
You can’t pass onto Westport Island without seeing the flagpole and welcome sign. The original flag was purchased by Jack Smith on behalf of the Community Association for the country’s Bicentennial in 1976. The original welcome sign was made in 1960 by J. Louis Doyle (architect from Boston, summer resident of Westport and Community Association President at the time) for Lincoln County’s Bicentennial Celebration, which included Association sponsored events on the Island.
From square dances to Halloween parties, from the Island Christmas program to the fire department barbeque…and well beyond to programs that showcase Island talent and history — the Community Association makes the Island a better place. Now, that’s something to celebrate. Events will conclude with a singing of “Roots in the Rock” and “Rollin Home” and a champagne toast at 5:15…
To the annual chicken barbeque to celebrate a year of hard work and training successes
It’s been a year of hard work for the Westport Volunteer Fire Department. Last winter, six firefighters attended the six-week Lincoln County Fire Academy Basic Firefighter school. They are now certified for interior structure attacks and any operations necessary at a firefighting scene. James Richardson earned the Lincoln County Fire Chiefs Association’s Newman Award at this school for excelling at the academy classes and exhibiting leadership and initiative.
Two more fire volunteers completed EMS (Emergency Medical Services) training, which now gives the department seven licensed Emergency Medical Technicians along with one certified first responder.
And last weekend, nine of the Volunteer Fire Department members attended a three-day pump operations training conducted by Lt. Thomas St. Pierre from The Topsham Fire & Rescue Department.
Now, it’s time to take a break from training — and visit with neighbors. Members of the Fire Department will be serving up a Class A Chicken Barbeque while tapping their feet to the music of the Back to Basics Bluegrass Band.
Saturday, July 25, is the Fire Department’s annual fundraiser and a chance to show appreciation for the time and commitment of our fire and rescue volunteers. Dinner will be served starting at 5:30. The menu is barbequed chicken (or hot dogs, if you prefer), corn, beans, rolls, beverages and scrumptious desserts courtesy of the Westport Community Association. There is no set fee, give what you can or feel like donating for a night of good food, good fun and neighborliness.
To be cooked up by Chef “Nita” Greenleaf with love
Whether expressing love to her family, friendship to neighbors in need or just her native generosity — Juanita “Nita” Greenleaf says it with cooking. Surrounded by her daughter and friends, she’ll be putting on a Mother’s Day Breakfast spread at the Westport Island Town Hall on Sunday, May 10, beginning at 8 a.m. To recognize Nita’s place in helping Islanders celebrate: a generous Westport neighbor will pay for the first 15 moms who come to Nita’s all-you-can-eat breakfast!
Nita’s passion is cooking. According to her daughter, she likes to mingle with people and make them happy. To her, good food is a way to celebrate, make people happy — and comfort.
When neighbors are in need, Nita cooks. In recent years, she organized a community dinner to help Jim Cromwell pay medical bills from a workplace accident that left him temporarily incapacitated with multiple fractures. When Mona Greenleaf found herself overwhelmed with funeral expenses associated with the death of her husband, Nita once again organized and cooked up a fundraiser dinner.
Nita was a shy, anxious child growing up in Georgetown. Her parents divorced when she was young. She started school late because fears of leaving home made her physically ill. Years later, she dropped out of high school and had her first child — daughter Joyce — six days after her 16th birthday.
Nita found her “groove” while raising her two children — as well as a way to connect with others — through cooking. Her daughter Joyce said there were tough financial times growing up, but her mother could always make a dinner you’d come running for — even when the ingredients were from government surplus.
In thinking about Mother’s Day, Joyce said what she admires most about her mother is, “she always puts other people first.” Whether putting together a Valentine’s Day dinner or trying to keep the idea of an Island store, or gathering place, alive with Saturday night dinners, she will take a loss to bring people together.
In mid-life, to complete unfinished business, Nita got her GED. From there, she got a catering license and in recent years, put her husband Buddy behind the wheel of a food truck. With her mobile food business, she has catered at the Wiscasset Speedway, the “Wings over Wiscasset” air show and the Moxie Festival in Lisbon; she caters weddings; makes wedding cakes; and cooks meals at the Wiscasset Senior Center. Nita has also won ribbons with her culinary treats: two at the Moxie Festival and two in King Arthur-sponsored baking contests.
Say Happy Mother’s Day to Nita and your favorite mothers on Mother’s Day at the Town Hall, 1217 Main Road, and enjoy a grand slam breakfast — eggs to order, pancakes, biscuits and gravy, ham, bacon, sausage, hash, muffins, toast and beverages: $10 adults; $5 for children under 8.