The Remembrance Project
Lives of those among us.
People read obituaries avidly. Alongside the famous deaths in the newspapers, there are the small print columns about the equally loved but lesser-known. Ordinary people who have lived extraordinary lives. Elissa Ely reads between the lines, finding men and women around New England whose stories should not go untold – the lives of those among us.
Skip Warren was a dancer, a choreographer, a playwright, a set designer and home remodeler, an HIV survivor, a lymphoma patient, and, in two exuberant words, an artistic gypsy.
Seth Boyd, known in the hip-hop world as Cadence, surprised listeners with his gentle, pacifist raps. “I keep my eyes open so my mind doesn’t decay,” one lyric went. “I want a room with a view for the remains of the day.”
Naimy Gabour Lees was a hospital volunteer for 30 years. Unsqueamishly curious and a lover of lives, she yearned to see a baby born. The baby received a dollar on his birthday every year.
Fan Yin Lee grew up in a remote Chinese village. Decades later, in Cambridge, still fearing for his family’s safety, he would not tell his youngest son where the village was.
Gerry Dumas read broadly and deeply, and loved to transcribe meaningful quotes onto recycled envelopes. “The softest pillow is a clear conscience,” one read. “Integrity is everything.”
Father Paul Lucey came from a widely religious family. Two brothers were also priests. When his younger sister died in his later years, he conducted her funeral mass from his wheelchair.
Beatrice Singer didn’t view life as tragic—she was too practical. Her love was tangible and useable. In later years, when family visited, she made one rare roast beef and many different potato dishes, never forgetting exactly who preferred which.
Tony Winsor believed in an uncomplicated set of rights and wrongs, and, in 55 years of service, never grew discouraged when society didn’t change as rapidly as he thought it should.
Herbie Brown believed in optimism and in art. During his Bargello period, he needlepointed ten French Provincial dining room chairs in different patterns.
Jaimie Bliss was born after a difficult pregnancy and did not talk until he was six. But that is not his life story. His life story is how much his family loved him.
Peter Pedulla raised his family in Chelmsford. It was 28.9 miles from his own childhood home in Somerville. His Italian immigrant parents considered this a dangerously far distance.
Jack Rogers patrolled the hallways of Acton-Boxborough High School for 10 years, armed with a walkie-talkie and a nine-pound bag of candy. He tossed pieces to everyone he passed, carefully following regulations: nothing unwrapped, no peanuts.
There was always something more that Charlotte Rose Brand wanted to do, and did: bounce on a trampoline in her seventies, take in a Seinfeld comedy act in her eighties.
Professor Moshe Anisfeld lived with a single lung and scoliosis from early childhood. Perhaps in counterbalance to a weakened body, his mind was muscular.
Dr. Charles Keevil and his wife had 10 children. During summer vacations, various configurations of them drove in a VW van to a coal-mining district of Appalachian Kentucky, where Dr. Keevil volunteered in a hospital that had never seen a cardiologist.
Though he was tenured, Professor Leonard Nash most enjoyed teaching entry-level chemistry classes. He hosted long office hours for those suffering with problem sets, because he wanted his students to actually like acids and bases.
Rose King made Thanksgiving turkey and pies until she grew too weak to hoist the bird into the oven. She was a liberal, though her radio was always turned to conservative politics. She found rageful talk hosts endearing.
Until he was 103, Morris Shapiro cooked blintzes, managed his stocks, and took his neighbors for barbecue every Thursday. He nursed his wife through her final illness so tenderly that when she grew too weak to apply her makeup, he applied it for her.