Our View: To Those We Lost

December 28, 2023

Each year at this time, we look back at the local residents who left us during the previous 12 months and remember their contributions to our communities. We believe it’s important to learn from the past, and each of these folks left a legacy, in one or more facets of life. By recalling their names and accomplishments, we honor them and their time with us.

Norman Pacun left a legacy of historic preservation for future generations through his work on the Old Village and Marconi National Register Historic Districts, as well as his insistence that the Mitchell River Bridge retain its traditional wooden drawbridge design. For many years, Mary Ann Gray helped preserve Chatham’s history as the Chatham Historical Society’s archivist. Deborah Ecker had a successful career in Massachusetts state finances and was active in the Friends of Chatham Waterways, helping to preserve the coastal environment she felt passionate about.

Law professor Walter Rauschenbush, the grandson of Supreme Court justice Louis D. Brandeis, spent every summer of his life in Chatham since “the latter years of the Coolidge presidency.” Letti Sullivan delighted many with her iconic red coat festooned with every First Night button. Lonnie Pickett was a constant presence at Chatham Airport, where his paintings of historic aircraft greeted visitors. Artist Peter Quidley won many awards with his photorealistic paintings. After a career at Paramount, Steve Goldman ran the Cyrus Kent House and spent his retirement painting and working with the Chatham Creative Arts Center. Bill Coleman was also active with FCW, serving as its president, as well as sharing his passion for social justice by teaching courses at the Eldredge Public Library and elsewhere.

Robert Hessler served on the Chatham Zoning Board of Appeals and was well known for his culinary skills. Paul Puskas served the town and its young people on the Chatham School Committee, and Paul Kelley likewise lent his expertise to the town’s board of health. Pat Ford was a tireless advocate for the disabled, serving on town and regional boards. Dave Rauscher served many years on the Chatham Airport Commission, at least when he wasn’t entertaining with his expert guitar stylings.

The local business community also lost leaders. During her brief time as director of the Chatham Chamber of Commerce, Mary Cavanaugh made a lasting impression. Marge Long worked for many years at Puritan Clothing’s Chatham store and also served on the chamber; she was also a founder of the town’s long-running First Night celebration. Jackson Smith was a skilled builder and also lent his expertise to the Chatham Historic Business District Commission. Steve Gallant was a master jeweler whose creations brought joy to many. Lee Prouty helped many folks find the home that was just right for them, as did Charlotte Ventola. For many years, Bill Gray owned and helped run the Bradford Inn and Marley’s Restaurant and was active in the Chatham Merchants Association. William Richardson grew his passion for gardening into The Farm in Orleans. Roy Meservey kept the books for many residents and businesses for 60 years, and also contributed significantly to the Chatham community through his membership in the Rotary Club and Chatham Conservation Foundation. Joan Konopka opened Chatham’s first health food store. Bill DeFord ran the iconic Cranberry Inn for many years. Chris Clark kept the venerable Clark’s Auto Services going, the third generation to run the South Chatham station. Steve Eldredge took water garden design to a whole new level.

Although not a full-time resident, former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson was at home in Chatham, blending in with both locals and visitors during his regular visits to the Chatham Squire. Michaeljohn McGann will be remembered for the many roles he expertly brought to the Monomoy Theatre stage over the decades.

Longtime fisherman Sonny Mallowes was the quintessential Old Cape Codder. For many years, Carol Garey served as an Eldredge Public Library trustee. Lucy Buckley helped keep many local residents healthy during her long career as a physical therapist. As a banker, Gordon Pratt was trusted by residents to handle their money, and later their mail as a postal worker. Colin Gillis relocated to Chatham, and then Harwich, to be close to his large family. John Nostrand left his mark as a treasured volunteer with the Art of Charity and Pleasant Bay Community Boating.

At this time of both looking back and forward, we raise a glass to those above, as well as all the others lost during the year. Rest well.