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.
Carol Hiltunen was a natural introvert raised in the midst of a crowd—nine children, including sets of twins and triplets. She found escape from the chaos when she joined a convent.
James Ulwick would pull the kids from school and drive down to Cape Canaveral, so they could watch him direct rocket launches. Usually they drove with a cooler and a Coleman stove in their station wagon. Once they drove with a rocket cone.
Three weeks after her ALS diagnosis, Holly Ladd had already reviewed the prognostic literature, and, in her lawyerly fashion, constructed her advanced directive with clear limits. Over the next two years, she pushed those limits back again and again.
When she was 31, Cecilia Quiros left Colombia for the United States with her eight-year-old, a suitcase, and a bouquet of flowers. She treasured motherhood, but not traditional marriage.
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.