The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, July 14, 2006


Carlisle honors spirit of Vivian Chaput at Old Home Day

One of the "Moon" rocks at the newly dedicated Vivian Chaput Memorial on the Conant Land. (Photo by Mollie McPhee Ho)

A crowd of 60 people gathered on the afternoon of Old Home Day in the open field just between Town Hall and access to the Conant Land trails to commemorate the dedication of a granite installation to memorialize former Carlisle Selectman, Vivian Chaput. The group included many of the town's civic and social leaders.

Chaput had served as an elected official in Carlisle for 25 years before her untimely death in an automobile accident in March 2004 in Florida. She had worked as a member of the Planning Board from 1978 to 1994. She joined the Board of Selectmen in 1996, and her term would have expired in 2005. Her significant contributions to the town included the creation of cluster zoning, development of pathways, and acquisition of the O'Rourke and Benfield parcels.

About $30,000 in contributions and countless volunteer hours enabled the establishment of the memorial. Ron Chaput spoke at the dedication to thank the multitude of contributors, and praise the town for continuing his wife's spirit of volunteerism.

Sculptor Joe Wheelright designed the granite work entitled "Moon." The work, located atop a hill among a cluster of boulders, takes up 45" x 73" x 20" of space. It consists of two carved heads in facing stones. The installation of the piece involved clearing of the area by DPW crews and town Boy Scouts.

At the dedication, the modest Wheelright praised the Carlisle Mosquito for raising his reputation from that of a master craftsman to an "internationally recognized" artist. Wheelright works primarily in Boston and Vermont. A former graduate of Yale and the Rhode Island School of Design, the acclaimed sculptor has displayed his work in some 30 solo shows.

Perhaps no one did a better job of depicting Chaput than Greg Peterson. (See excerpts from Peterson's speech below.)

If you were unable to attend the dedication, please feel free to visit the site at your convenience. Even better, bring along a friend or a child and take a hike on the Conant Land. Actively enjoying conservation land may be the best way for everyone in town to remember Vivian Chaput.

Left to right, Vivian Chaput's daughter, Noelle Davighi; her son-in-law, Keith Davighi holding her granddaughter, Logan; and her husband, Dr. Ronald Chaput, at the memorial dedication.(Photo by Mollie McPhee Ho)

Following are excerpts of remarks made by Greg Peterson at the dedication of the Vivian Chaput Memorial on July 1.

. . . Vivian was by training and profession a landscape architect and planner and businesswoman. Land spoke to her, and she translated to the people who would use it. She created and preserved physical places. Because of this fact, Vivian continues to speak to us through O'Rourke Farm, and every cluster development in Carlisle (for she was the original promoter of cluster zoning in Carlisle). Vivian walks with us along the pathways she laid out, that begin just over there, at the foot of Town Hall, and connect the Center to the woods, trails and fields she and her husband, Ron, worked to preserve. Vivian lives in Village Court, Carlisle's first affordable housing development, located just over the crest of the next hill. All of these places, and more in Billerica and Chelmsford, she helped make. Each carries the spark of Vivian's intelligence, spirit, wit and practical, hard work.

Vivian was also, by avocation, a politician; and a darned good one. Adding up her service on the Planning Board and the Board of Selectmen, Vivian was an elected town official for a full quarter-century, during a time of both tremendous change and remarkable continuity. Vivian got things done, and she did so with a smile, a gentle suggestion, a thoughtful gesture, tough negotiating, creative insight, and a genuine appreciation for and support of staff. Vivian was also glamorous. In my mind's eye I can still see Vivian, roaring up in her little red sports car to the Town Hall parking lot, and hopping out, impeccably dressed for another long Selectmen's meeting.

It is fitting that we remember Vivian here, next to Town Hall, in the heart of the community she loved and built and served for so long, with a work of landscape and human ingenuity that calls to mind her gentle persistence and the works of her life. And by the collective creation of this quiet memorial, the spark of community service Vivian carried in her life has continued to burn brightly. Thanks to Gary Davis and his crews from DPW, especially Gerald Davis, James Proctor and Brendan Mirfield, who worked to build this place. Thanks to Joe Wheelwright, the sculptor who conceived and fashioned this installation, to Scott Simpson who suggested Joe. Thanks also to the Boy Scouts who helped on clean-up day in May, and especially to their leader Steve Tobin, and his son David Tobin. Thanks to the committee who managed the process, including Pat Loring, Ron Chaput, Deb Belanger, Marjie Findlay and Jay Luby, and to the many, many citizens who generously donated the funds for this memorial. May your work here redeem the memory of Vivian, for those who never knew her, but found their world the better for her efforts and example.

When we leave Vivian's Place today, each of us full of our own warm memories of this remarkable woman, we are called to follow Vivian's Way, each on our own path.

2006 The Carlisle Mosquito