White River Junction Mourns Town ‘Mayor’

By Maggie Cassidy
Valley News Staff Writer

White River Junction — As downtown bustled on Saturday, with Glory Days in one corner, the Main Street Museum’s Bizarre Bazaar in another, and the block humming with pedestrians, the bench in front of the yarn shop often sat empty.

It was a favorite seat of Lewis Lahaye — better known as Louie — a reliable sight in White River Junction who could often be found wearing his signature beanie and sunglasses and who was known for his ability to strike up a conversation with anyone. An Upper Valley native and resident of the Vermonter Hotel downtown, his friendliness earned him the nickname the “Mayor of Hartford.”

“He was the town’s grandfather, pretty much,” said village resident Graham Robinson, 32. “Everybody loved him.” Continue reading “White River Junction Mourns Town ‘Mayor’”

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Carmen Walton: ‘Her Faith Is Really What Got Her Through’

By Maggie Cassidy
Valley News Staff Writer

Lebanon — At age 62, Carmen Walton learned how to drive.

It was a small but significant moment in her life; a chance to start again. Her husband suffered from polio for nearly 25 years, and after she cared for him, he had died suddenly from a heart attack a few years earlier. After his death she wanted to regain some independence, she told her family. Plus, on her own again, she needed to get a job.

Soon Walton was commuting to the clinic at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, her first job since before her three children were born. She cherished driving and the freedom of zipping around town in her little red station wagon. A history buff, Walton traveled the back roads of New Hampshire taking pictures of historical markers; she loved to invite friends out to lunch who had no transportation and she often picked up the tab. Continue reading “Carmen Walton: ‘Her Faith Is Really What Got Her Through’”

Flight of a Lifetime

By Maggie Cassidy
Valley News Staff Writer

West Lebanon — Janet Bailey took control of the four-seater Cessna 172 airplane Monday morning as it rumbled forward on the runway at Lebanon Municipal Airport.

With the pilot’s gentle coaching, she pulled back, back, back and the plane lurched up, up, up — and suddenly, the woman who had celebrated her 82nd birthday only days earlier was in the air, flying again, piloting a plane for the first time since she took flying lessons at that same airport 60 years ago. Continue reading “Flight of a Lifetime”

Kenneth and Wauneta Lowery: ‘They Were Going to Be Together Forever’

By Maggie Cassidy
Valley News Staff Writer

Kenneth Lowery’s daughters pushed his wheelchair into his wife’s hospital room. As Wauneta Lowery lay in a coma, he sat by her side, and took her hand in his.

A few days later, in the waning hours of March 8, Kenneth Lowery died at age 83. Seven days after that, at age 78, Wauneta Lowery died.

They both died in Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, where they had been admitted for brain hemorrhages — his suffered during a bad fall, hers the result of an aneurysm. She ultimately succumbed to the bleeding, after he had died of heart and kidney failure.

During the six decades leading up to that week, the Lowerys had built a life together — a partnership built on quick wit and polka dances; on light-hearted teasing and openhearted generosity; on summers with family and friends at Mascoma Lake, where if you weren’t careful, Ken might have tossed you into the water; and on larger-than-life Christmases at their home in Hartland, an event so highly anticipated that their four daughters often spent the early hours each year quivering at the top of the staircase, overcome by excitement.

They shared traditional values: life and land, God and country. A retired U.S. Army Major and past commander of the National Guard, he served 23 years in active duty, including a year in Germany during the Korean conflict, and the couple were active members at American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars posts. They attended Mass every week at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Windsor.

But above all else, the Lowerys loved their four daughters, 10 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, supporting them to the point of “spoiled,” two of their daughters joked.

As one of their granddaughters put it, it was rare they missed a chance to boast about the forays and accomplishments of their familial “mini empire.”

It was a pride and a love that persevered through — and, perhaps, was even strengthened by — the unthinkable, when they lost their eldest daughter and three grandchildren in a murder-suicide in 1986. Continue reading “Kenneth and Wauneta Lowery: ‘They Were Going to Be Together Forever’”

A Most Unusual Life

By Maggie Cassidy
The Molokai Dispatch

Nancy Cooke de Herrera sat on the floor of her son’s home in the early 2000s, her only companions a black lab and 27 piles of paper around her. Each pile represented a chapter – including one detailing her first visit to India, and another recounting the time she met Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the father of Transcendental Meditation (TM). There was even a pile that would later be titled “The Beatles Invade the Ashram.”

After isolating herself in Oregon and churning out the 27 piles, she moved them around to determine their order, wrote four additional chapters, and in 2003 published “All You Need Is Love,” a true account of TM’s spread from the East to the West and her own role therein.

Cooke de Herrera – who married into Molokai’s Cooke family in the 1940s and raised three sons on Molokai – had never much liked writing, she said. But friends convinced her to write a book because, at the time, there were none about TM – a mantra form of meditation that, unlike some, does not require giving up worldly possessions. Over the years, she has taught TM to such celebrities as Madonna, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rosie O’Donnell, Lenny Kravitz and Sheryl Crow, among others.

“When it’s day by day your own life, it doesn’t sound extraordinary. I know that looking back on it, some of it’s kind of unusual,” she said after a presentation at the Molokai Public Library Thursday. Continue reading “A Most Unusual Life”