Our View: Shine A Light

We've just passed the longest night of the year, and the days will soon begin to lengthen. It seems a natural time to remember those who will no longer be with us as the old year—and, indeed, the old decade—passes and new light comes into our lives.

Benjamin Nickerson had an incredible knowledge of Chatham and its history, and was instrumental in creating the Nickerson Family Association compound which now serves as a museum to the town's founder and a repository of invaluable genealogical information. Along with serving as a firefighter and police officer, he quietly helped an untold number of local children through St. Martin's Lodge, and as his friends recalled, always had a ready smile for everyone.

Peter Saunders was the town's unofficial poet laureate, publishing a dozen volumes of verse and encouraging many aspiring poets and writers to follow their muse. Robert Marshall taught several generations of local kids to appreciate history before becoming a local tour guide and imparting his own knowledge to visitors. Nat Mason served on the Chatham Conservation Commission and as treasurer of the Friends of Chatham Waterways, appropriate for a man who seemed drawn to the water; he'd attempted to swim from Chatham to Nantucket and was a member of a team that swam the English Channel. He used his business acumen to help keep the Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen's Alliance's finances on track.

Ian Mott was with the first unit that liberated the Buchenwald Concentration Camp at the end of World War II; he late sold real estate in Chatham and for many years his Chatham Print Shop was the local printery. Isabelle Monteleone brightened the lives of many second World War soldiers as a volunteer for the Red Cross. Gerry Custodie's mechanical skill and love of cars was well known. Ben Goodspeed played in the Chatham Band most of his life, bringing his musical gifts to thousands. In retirement, businessman David Metzler turned to philanthropy, supporting the Family Pantry of Cape Cod and other worthy organizations. Rosemarie Denn built Cape Fishermen's Supply into an important local business (along with husband Bob) and helped found the Nereid Network to provide assistance to fishing families. Len Magnusson ran Chatham Hardware and won awards for his wine. Rob Sennott kept one of the nation's oldest newspapers, The Barnstable Patriot, alive and vital at a difficult time for community news outlets. Many Harwich High School students received invaluable life advice from Anne Leete. Richard Clifford created the most amazing woodwork and left The Countdown Cod as his legacy.

Many people who gave time to their community left us this past year. Hillary LeClaire helped preserve the shellfish resource that he fished for many years as a member of the shellfish advisory committee. Joe Craig served on the Chatham Zoning Board of Appeals and as the town's representative on the Cape Cod National Seashore Advisory Commission. Ellie Greenough-Kilty worked for several Chatham town departments over the years. Victor DiCristina co-authored Chatham’s Comprehensive Long Range Plan and was chairman of the land bank and open space committee and vice chairman of the community preservation committee. Alice Clack served on the Chatham Finance Committee and volunteered for First Night. Bill Schweizer was a financial watchdog on Chatham's finance committee for years before orchestrating the expansion of the town's water system.

As we shine a light on these friends and fellow residents, we remember their accomplishments and how they left our towns the better for having been part of the community.