Friday, March 12, 2004
Colleagues remember Vivian Chaput
A single rose attempted to fill the gap at the Selectmen's table where Vivian Chaput habitually sat, as dozens of her friends, neighbors, and collegues filed into the Clark Room at Town Hall. The Selectmen had suspended their planned meeting on Tuesday to provide time for "talk, recollections, and sharing" as everyone tried to come to terms with the tragedy of Vivian's death on Saturday. Amidst many pauses for reflection, participants shared fond, warm, and humorous memories of a woman who impacted the lives of nearly everyone in Carlisle through her personality, her style, and her belief in "can-do" town government.
Selectman John Ballantine recalled Vivian's "smile, spirit, and goodness," and noted that amidst the tragedy, "When I think of her and what she gave to everyone, I can't help but feel good." After reading a poem by Billy Collins, Ballantine concluded, "I imagine her in heaven . . . already planning pathways and affordable housing. No doubt it'll be a much better place."
Selectman Doug Stevenson, in honor of Vivian's failed attempts to encourage the Selectmen to upgrade their dress, came outfitted in a suit for the occasion. He presented a resolution which concluded, "We resolve ourselves to be better leaders and better people for having known her, and give thanks that we have had the opportunity to serve with her here in Carlisle." He added, "I don't believe I ever saw Vivian get angry. She fought hard, but had respect for others' opinions. She set an example for all of us to be the kind of leader she was."
Selectman Tony Allison read from an article about Vivian which noted her success as a developer of workable affordable elderly housing. He spoke of her "passion for what she believed in," adding, "She always tried to find the middle way. I can't believe she's not here."
Amidst long pauses to collect herself, Town Administrator Madonna McKenzie offered, "Vivian was very special to me. She was a cheerleader telling me to keep going when things got tough." She added, "It's only now I've come to realize how many lives she touched. The number of people who've told me today how she encouraged them, helped them, mentored them...She will be missed greatly in this community."
FinCom member Deb Belanger offered a stirring tribute, "She was indominable — always enthusiastic in spite of the challenges. She would bring you back when you were losing hope. She was an amazing force with amazing energy. She's the reason I'm in volunteer work."
Carlisle Conservation Foundation President Art Milliken recalled Vivian's work to bring elderly housing to Carlisle, "She had a smile no one could resist. We always knew we were going to do what she asked. She was the right person because no one ever said 'no' to Vivian." Added ConsCom's John Lee, "Vivian was the consummate consensus-builder. She got what she wanted because she made you see the wisdom of her point of view, which was always well thought out."
Carlisle resident Fontaine Richardson encouraged the Selectmen to "find an appropriate way to remember her in a formal way, whether a picture, a garden " Stevenson responded, "We're thinking about what would be appropriate considering what she did for this town."
Ballantine observed that day-to-day, "We don't take the time to say how much someone means to us. This is a terrible reminder of how important that is." He encouraged participants to take away images of Vivian, adding, "How lucky we are to have those."
© 2004 The