On Wednesday, Dec. 7, I had the honor of attending a lovely gathering at the Sunrise Café in downtown Kennett to dedicate a bench to the memory of local historian Mary Dugan. A longtime English teacher at Patton Middle School, Mary would regularly gather her friends and colleagues at the restaurant for meetings, so owner Lynn Sinclair thought it was a fitting tribute.
The plaque on the back of the wooden bench reads "In memory of local historian and founder of the Kennett Underground Railroad Center Mary Larkin Dugan 1935-2013" and has a North Star on it. The star has come to symbolize the Underground Railroad because the slaves fleeing from the South used it to guide their nighttime travels.
Gathered for the ceremony were two of Mary's sons -- one who traveled all the way from Maine for the event -- and one of her grandsons; two 90-year-old friends of Mary's, Ella Sestrich (who used to own Sestrich's Market in Unionville) and Mary Anderson; and several of Mary's other friends, including Marlene Drewes, Nancy Pennock Sager (Herb Pennock's granddaughter), and Janet Deckman. Lynn served coffee ice cream (Mary's favorite) and chocolate-chip biscotti as everyone reminisced about historical sites near and far that Mary took them to, the impact she had on our community, and how much she is missed by people in so many different circles.
Stop by the Sunrise Café for breakfast or lunch and take a look at the bench and the photographs of Mary and Underground Railroad materials that Lynn has gathered.