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Our Seniors over 80

Rev. Albert Ciarcia

Lyman “Bill” Griswold

Caryl Dyer

Gertrude “Gertie” Hale

Reinhardt Elster

Nancy Elster

Esther Wallace

Ray MacIntire

By wishes alone you cannot a livelihood make.

Roll up your sleeves, send your bucket down

With those that others send.

Then behold!

At times, it will come up full,

Full to the brim;

At times, full with mud,

And perhaps a little water.

-Abd al-aswad al-Duwali

Characteristics in common:

While such amazing individuals and as different as we know they are, there are common characteristics we find in our special seniors over 80....

-a sense of humor

-humility and gratitude

-survivors of world wars, scarce times, medical procedures and heartbreaks

-open minds, educated and interested in the world, ready to grapple with current issues

-stewardship of the church and caring for each other

Navajo Prayer

Before me, may it be delightful.

Behind me, may it be delightful.

Around me, may it be delightful.

Below me, may it be delightful.

Above me, may it be delightful.

All, may it be delightful.

While you will view our Seniors' videos and hear their own words over the course of several Sundays, here is a brief introduction to each. Hear of their life voyages with a mind to enriching your own life.

Al Ciarcia ~ Our devoted Rev. for over a decade now, Al is a great giver and has always been there for us since we lost Rev. Wahlstrom. How does one man fill such a big void for our small congregation? Al is a big man, with a life full of real life stories, teaching, and lessons that he is willing to share with us each month. With Jane Ciarcia, also a devoted friend of our church, they travel in all weather to be here for us. We have been blessed with this couple of such high calibre to mentor us in our seeking of spirituality and life answers.

Bill Griswold ~ Born a Unitarian in Greenfield, MA. College athlete at Colgate University. WWII Navy pilot in the South Pacific. Business man in the Southwest with spouse and three children. Bachelor again in Greenfield, Bill started the KOA Campground in Bernardston, worked at NMH school and has continued to help out NMH athletics and Bernardston Vets Club. Member of our Great Decisions Discussion Group and long time officer of the church.

Caryl Dyer ~ The “Unsung Hero” (now decorated by the Governor) long time volunteer and trustee of the Bernardston Cushman Library, Caryl is also responsible for our Historic Meetinghouse official designation having kept scrupulous records for our church for many decades. Caryl was educated at Kent State College in Ohio and was an educator and brought up her two sons, with husband Ed, on their Bernardston Farm.

Gertie Hale was also born in Greenfield and lived with her parents on Huckle Hill. Her Dad worked at Lunt Silvermiths and she worked in the office at Greenfield Tap and Die before marrying Harold Hale and moving for a time to Mt. Vernon (tulip country) in the state of Washington. The war ended just in time for her Navy air corp husband to join her in Bernardston for the birth of their daughter Marilyn. Gertie lived on River St. for over 30 years and was active in the Grange, the social center of the town. After her husband's death, she joined the Bernardston Unitarians with her good friend Ada Miner and we always enjoy her devoted participation in our church.

Reinhardt Elster ~ Born in the Chicago area, Reinhardt developed his musical talents to become Principal Harpist at the Metropolitan Opera for 40 years. He served in the armed forces during the war, and traveled the world playing music- among his fondest memories- the honor of playing with Pablo Casals. 4 children enriched his life experience and Reinhardt continues to bring vibrant ideas to our discussions. Living near Adams and Dunkin' Donuts, he's also kindly been our major refreshment donor for the past two years!

Nancy Elster ~ The dancing soul of a “born Unitarian”, Nancy has fond memories of her Unitarian upbringing which enhanced a life of individuality. She was also a serious musician who as choir director gave the gift of music to children in her church on Long Island. Nancy raised four children and now lives with Reinhardt near her daughter in Greenfield.

Esther Wallace joined us in 1972 when she and her husband bought the old Unitarian parsonage on Bald Mt. Rd. She immediately became active in our Alliance women's group. Esther was a social worker on Long Island. For many years she organized the volunteers schedule for Franklin Medical Center, making sure there was volunteer coverage in departments that needed regular help such as the outpatient clinics. Esther was an avid Scrabble player and voracious reader of the NY Times and books. She stayed in touch with her granddaughters and friends through frequent emails. We are happy that Esther stays in touch from her new home near her son on L.I.

Ray MacIntire is a new friend of Bernardston Unitarian, a member of the Framingham church. Ray and Lois moved to Turners Falls, and have since battled illness, and Ray the recent loss of his wife, Lois. As a sign of his resilience and continued interest in life, Ray has taken up playing music with the Fall Town String Band. He recently donated to us a wonderful book that he has obviously heeded, of the great religious philosophers. We are always grateful for new friends!

I am grateful for and bless the act of creation and all my loving creators. To be alive is the greatest gift

one can receive. Life, with its mystery, joy, love, pain, difficulties and opportunities. I bless them all as I bless the wonder of our existence

and I bless all who use the gift of life to increase the quantity of love and healing we all require to survive. Peace.

  • Bernie Siegel, M.D.

Congregational Unitarian Society

of Bernardston

Honoring Our Special Seniors Over 80!

In Their Own Words”

Sunday, October 28, 2007

camera person: Ed Phelps

interviewer: Rev. Steve Wilson

Tech and program: Mark & Annette Wadleigh

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