Wednesday, December 21, 2016

RIP: Some local people who left us

At the end of each year I like to look back and remember those who have left us. Here is the list I came up with for 2016:
-- Milton Lowe, a resident of Brandywine Senior Living and the father of a friend of mine. A U.S. Navy veteran and an active member of the Jewish War Veterans, he participated in the 2015 Kennett Square Memorial Day parade, and when the car he was riding in broke down, he hitched a ride on the Native American float and had the time of his life singing and dancing with them.
-- Bob Brooks, who lived in Chatham and sold the best Christmas trees ever
-- Thomas Cummings, a local history buff, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and a two-time Purple Heart recipient who fought at Iwo Jima. He lived in Mortonville and showed me the spot where in 1928 the famous aviator Charles Lindbergh made an emergency landing, off what is now Lone Eagle Road ("Lone Eagle" was the name of Lindbergh's plane).
-- Frito, a faithful donkey, and Brandy, a much-loved rescue dog
-- Connie Nichols, one of the founders of the Tick-Tock Day Care Center in Toughkenamon and a longtime member of Kennett Friends Meeting. She restored the Bayard Taylor house in Cedarcroft, the Gregg house on Chandler Mill Road, a couple of South Broad Street houses, and two West Grove historic properties. The obituary for this Kendal resident read: "In lieu of flowers or donations, please save an old house."
-- George Zacharkiw, a beloved husband, father, and grandfather who fought multiple myeloma and had so many people rooting for him to win
-- Marjorie Kaskey, a local historian and fellow Dorothy Sayers fan
-- George A. "Frolic" Weymouth, the larger-than-life Chadds Ford conservationist, artist, fundraiser, carriage driver and bon vivant
-- Philip Fanning, a Unionville fixture; a father and grandfather, a horse breeder and foxhunter. I didn't know until I read his obituary that this gentleman won the Maryland Hunt Cup in 1958 aboard Ned's Flying.
-- Elsie Johnson, a matriarch of the Longwood Fire Co. At her funeral in Wilmington, her hearse was escorted by three fire trucks, along with many Kennett-area firefighters.
-- Leon Rowe of Kennett Square, who taught social studies at Avon Grove High School for 30 years and, with his wife Dolores, collected old postcards and political campaign memorabilia.
-- Tom Musser, a 1952 UHS graduate (and a Wall of Fame honoree), who was chairman and founder of The Tri-M Group. He put his business savvy, community connections, and personal energy and charm to work for the benefit of a whole host of local organizations, including the capital campaign to build the YMCA on Race Street.
-- Denise F. Miller of Lincoln University, who worked for 33 years for the Unionville Chadds Ford School District, most recently as administrative secretary to the superintendent. As her former colleague Don Silknitter said, "Denise had been the rock that held the district together since she was hired by Dr. Charles Garris decades ago."
-- John W. Singer Jr., a 1969 UHS graduate. A line from his obituary explains part of the reason his death is such a loss to so many: "John was a small engine mechanic his entire life. There was virtually no engine he couldn’t diagnose or fix. He also enjoyed cutting grass, snow plowing and wood splitting. He was always working on something." A friend whose steep and winding driveway John plowed said he would never send her and her husband a bill; at the end of the winter, they'd try to figure out how many times he had plowed and then write him a check what they thought would be a fair amount.
-- Thomas G. Gaspar of Kennett Square, a native of Budapest. Again, I quote from his obituary: "As a young man, he was a proud Scout Master and was one of the Freedom Fighters who sought to resist the Soviet occupation of Hungary. Like many others, he was captured and jailed. He spent four years in a political prison. Upon his release he was able to escape to the West." I had met this gentleman socially -- he was the president of Morning Star Coffee, which donated coffee to some event I was involved with -- but had no idea of his heroic background. Amazing!And back in 2015, I can't believe I forgot to mention Don Pusey (a fact of which his widow, Barbara, reminded me with some spirit!). Our bucolic West Marlborough Township would not be the same without the foresight he displayed as a township supervisor and the emphasis he placed on open space preservation.

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