Elizabeth Anne VanderPutten - Christmas Newsletter 2001

Merry Christmas loved ones and friends

A highlight of 2001 was the 90th birthday party for Elizabeth's Dad.  Four generations gathered at sister Jean's and her husband Bob's home in September.  A few weeks ago, he moved into a senior housing apartment. We are all relieved that he no longer needs to walk up a steep flight of stairs and we think he is happy about all those senior women who have their eyes on him.

Elizabeth's New Year's resolution: cut back on business travel (she spent a month in Charlottesville for executive training at the FEI and trekked to London, Boston, California, and Seattle).  She is proudest this year of regularly walking the five miles home from work.  She and her friend Terry Woodin get a secret pleasure in passing the slow-walking youngsters (i.e., > 40 crowd).  Brian says this physical fitness has gone too far - he is awed when she touches her toes without bending her knees (something he couldn't do at 19).

Our major vacations were two 1800-mile driving trips to Florida and Vermont (not bad for folks who don't own a car).  The highlight of Vermont was driving up the highway and seeing the slopes of Mt. Mansfield with spectacular fall foliage and 8 inches of snow on the ground. In Florida, we stayed with our friend Nancy Jane Stubbs who as usual spoiled us rotten with her marvelous food and gracious hostessing (of course she forced Elizabeth to hike 82 miles each day  - or so it seemed).  Nancy Jane published her cookbook this year, which Elizabeth uses when she cooks her one-meal-a-month. 

In most ways, Elizabeth's family is doing fine.  We were all saddened by the death of our beloved Uncle Robbie in the summer. He was a father, uncle, friend and mentor not only to the Dick VanderPutten kids but also to our extended family of friends and relatives.   

Aunt Annette, who we are all convinced grows younger every year, does admit that she might at least be a senior citizen.  She lets doormen get away with calling her "darling" or grandma.  She most enjoyed hosting a luncheon for Uncle Bob and Aunt Doris when they visited from Albuquerque.  As she said, the brothers would never get around to arranging such a thing.

The biggies for brother Dick and wife Peggy were the birth of granddaughter Victoria to Toni & Mike in March and the very successful Egan (Peggy's) family reunion in Ireland during June. They continue to delight in their Gerber Baby grandson Kyler, son of Rich and Meg and in daughter and in Dorothy's success at CA and her husband John's new business. Sister Jean and husband Bob were pleased that Bob had a letter published in Newsday and Jean's work in discovering an unusual fungus got New York Times coverage. The big event in (younger) brother John's life was retiring at some ridiculously youthful age. Although he is around all the time, his wife Pat reports she is still talking to him. Aurora and Jonathan, children of Dawn and Basil, are truly delightful. Jill has gone "back to work for the first time since Luke was born, decorating peoples homes and offices."  Luke is an all-around-American-boy who loves Brian's Mexican hats and adores his father Kevin. Daughter Carole-Anne unfortunately has to cope with lupus - yet remains an honor student, a published author and a great kid. Jill organized "Team VanderPutten" for the Lupus walk on Long Island, raising an incredible amount of money. Perhaps more incredible, all members of Team VanderPutten completed the 5K hike.

Cousin Tom and wife Joan reports their real estate empire (and debt) is growing - they have purchased the William Anthony House next to Cypress House.  Based on reports from a  family reunion, this is the place to be in Key West.  Tom and Joan's five children are all doing well, although Tom reports no grandchildren yet.  "Chris, Joy and brother Jimmy have lost jobs since Sept 11.  Youngest Vicki has moved in with sister Chris and brother-in-law Greg.  Mike and Lareina moved from Syracuse to Waltham both with new jobs.  Bryan and Joy are developing strong relationships with two wonderful people Ali and Dave." 

Cousin Martha and husband Jeff celebrated the adoption by Jeff of her daughter Barbara (earlier marriage). Then (a) both got RIFed; (b) he immediately found a new job; (c) the State of Texas is paying for her retraining program, and (d) Barbara is a junior looking toward Texas A&M. In April, Elizabeth attended the Albuquerque wedding of cousin Robert who married Christine Lung. Aunt Doris writes, "Our son Robert got married in April, gorgeous wedding, to a great girl (never had a daughter-in-law before…they're really great at least she is." Aunt Doris (who remains a star at the Shadowbox Theatre in Albuquerque) and Uncle Bob visited New York City just after 9/11 for a mini family reunion with Aunt Annette and family and a tour of Broadway.  Cousin Barbara entertains us all on her weekly radio show on KKUP as does Laurie with her CyberPutten jokes.  We do regret that Laurie and Paul Loken's daughter Stephanie temporarily put aside frogdom at TCU to devote time to her academic career.  Daughter Andrea combines brains (the highest achiever in her calculus class) with beauty (the most striking eyes). The number of boys who have fallen for her would require advanced algebra to calculate.

Brian's most exciting event was discovering a previously unknown half-brother, Francis Larkin. His sister Maureen, in addition to claiming miraculous powers (what else could you call producing, as she maintains she did, a brother older than herself -- and at her tender age?) continues tending her flowers and commuting to the VA Spa (aka VA Hospital). She stays in touch with our Irish cousins, Sr. Therese, Marie and Jimmie Blundell and John and Gertie. 

Francis is a retired toolmaker who enjoys visiting hospitals and nursing homes, spending time with elderly shut-ins, does Meals-on-Wheels, provides rides for the elderly, volunteers at his local food bank, and is active at the local Senior Center. We regularly hear from three of Francis' five children, Tracy and Lori who live in RI, and Ron who lives in AZ. Lori is Program Coordinator for the Rhode Island Breast Cancer Coalition and Ron works at Grand Canyon. Maureen and Caitlin visited the Rhode Island Larkins this week. A few minutes ago we got a note from Lori. "My Dad said the visit was more than he could have hoped for. Dad even dragged Aunt Maureen to the Coventry Senior Center on Friday to meet and greet. My Dad is a sort of 'local celebrity' at the Senior Center and the gossip was flying about the new 'woman' with my dad. Aunt Maureen was such a good sport!"

Son Dan and Michelle and children had a great year.  Erica and Shane both are scholar-athletes. When we visited in October, Shane entertained us with his trumpet playing ("When the Saints Come…") and Erica with the clarinet. We got to see Shane play football but missed Erica's soccer game. Both are straight A students and take great delight in beating grandma in every game of Harry Potter! Dan is getting recognition and national exposure for his State Police traffic safety work and Michelle does too many things to even list (e.g., mother, homemaker, church, cancer patient counseling, Monday night waitress, CARE package-maker for father-in-law, etc.)

The highlights of daughter Kathi's year: "Stephen graduated from 8th grade with honors and was again chosen an all-star baseball player. Sara completed her sophomore year at college again on the dean's list…In September we moved to Reno." Sara also got a personal letter of congratulations from her dean and Stephen also received 1) from the President of the United States an Award for Outstanding Academic Excellence, 2) a Certificate of Award for Academic Excellence - 4.0 from his middle school, 3) (most important) from his Principal an Award for Excellence in Social Studies and 4) a personal letter from the Mayor of Albuquerque commending him for his scholarship and citizenship.

Grandson Rory, who spent the summer as a U.S. Marine trainee, is a sophomore at SUNY-Albany. He is certainly a credit to his mother Kelly and father Ruane. Ruane is finishing his Masters and Kelly continues with the USPS in Morrisville, NY. Son Shannon is working as a DJ, wife Dawne is back in insurance, and children Hillary and Connor have adapted well to their new school in Ballston Spa, NY.  Both are wonderfully warm and loving children.

Nevada State engineer niece Tracy, mother of 6-year old Jon and wife of Jeff, just finished school exams (and for the 11th consecutive year has only 2 more years to go) and, with brother Steve helped celebrate her brother David's 40th (!) birthday in New York. One of the memorable moments of the year was when, totally unexpectedly, while on vacation in Florida, nephew Steve called one evening from Nevada just to chat. We look forward to meeting his beautiful, five children who have the greatest names: Joshua Britton, Katy Lynn, Krystal Nevada, Rebecca Lynn, and Steven James. Nephew Shawn is doing a Larkin family tree on his home page in Boone, NC, his wife Suk Chin is doing the family flowers, son Nicholas Song Min is being a 10-year-old, and all are anticipating his daughter Christina Mi Yong acceptance at the NC School of Science and Mathematics. (Like niece Paige say, we love the fact that Shawn's children have Korean middle names in honor of their mother's family.) Niece Caitlin & husband Tim Binning are rivals to Elizabeth in world traveling when they are not in their beautiful new home. Niece Crystal and her husband Rob Lew  in November helped celebrate his parent's 50th anniversary at their home in Melbourne, Australia. Niece Paige and husband Everett, who started the new millennium in an unforgettable way - their son Alexander was born -- what a birthdate: 01-01-01(!), announced as we are writing this that Kathryn Jennifer (Larkin) Carpenter was born on December 19, 2001 at 8:33pm. Paige reports, "She weighed 9 lbs. 4 oz. and was 21 inches long. She is pink and pretty and perfect. She's got a head full of dark brown hair and big dark baby blue eyes. Merry Christmas to all of you. I've already got my gift."

It is almost impossible to share the joys and accomplishments of all our friends. NSF friends Deh-I Hsiung is enjoying her detail to Beijing; Barbara Butler (at whose home with her husband Glenn Porter we welcomed in 2001) pretends to be retired while working at least 60 hours at NSF a week and dreaming of their future home in Albuquerque; Janice Earle just melts whenever we mention her granddaughter.  Alan Bow & Margaret Windus are glad that Alan is recovering from major heart surgery - and loved their trip to Europe.  Barbara Richardson enjoyed her sabbatical in Maine and even worked on her research on Ellen Swallow Richards (humm).  Clay and Eve Cummins have moved to a new senior home and exult that they have yet to use the dishwasher or stove. Pat Moore went to the Henley Regatta in England and writes that she is "practicing elder law, because I'm elderly and it's fun…My high school class celebrated our 50th reunion." And to family childhood friend, quilter extraordinare, contributor to The VanderPutten Family Memory, also known as QE II, Elizabeth Zapp, we wish a special Merry Christmas.

Long time friends Jim Aldrich and Anne Blackburn divide their time between church work, landmine clearance and immigrant-refugee programs; the theatre; and their respective thespian children. Allen Schmieder, wife Sonja and 9th grade daughter Lily ("a great student, dances, plays the piano and plays on the school basketball team") are in the UK for the holidays. Allen is finishing two books and his latest article is about to be published. He remains in touch with other old time colleagues Sam Yarger, Chuck Lovett, Joyce Murphy and with Don Bigelow "who is still roaring at 84!" Jim Shaver at USU in Logan Utah retired last year but still teaches a dissertation prep course and writes in the area of research and statistical analysis.

Bobby and Don Keller, who hosted our wedding reception, live year-round in Westhampton Beach. Bobby is the Executive Director of the Suffolk Coalition to Prevent Drug and Alcohol Abuse. Don is retired. They travel worldwide, non-stop. They are the proud grandparents of five grandchildren. Daughter Jane and husband Larry are happy in their new Southborough MA home where his business is expanding and where children Hailey and Brad "have great teachers and have made friends."

We also hear from Dave and Irma Leake who have retired to North Carolina. Despite some serious health problems, they seem to be doing well and their children (whom Elizabeth knew as students) are doing well in careers and raising wonderful families. Many of you will remember Dave Leake as the keep of the snakes that enchanted Richard, Michael and Dorothy when they visited Elizabeth's classroom many years ago.  In June, Elizabeth attended a book signing in Manhasset for former student Dr. Larry Lachman who has several well-received books including "Cats on the Counter" and "Birds on the Perch"

Among former Lauren neighbors, Adrienne French is a new mother (Ellie, June 19), is in the final year of her Ph. D. in Psychology at GW, and continues with her part-time private practice and crisis center work; Melva Caswell left to visit her home in Peru earlier this month; and the University of Notre Dame Press hosted a reception to which we attended for John Doolittle whose Don McNeill and his Breakfast Club was just published.

Elizabeth is always glad to hear from friends from her college days at New Rochelle. Barbara Koeppen Reily has retired from IBM, married and has recently had the thrill of becoming a grandmother. Mary Jo Santangelo Nocero has three beautiful, talented daughters (lawyers and doctors) and has recently become a grandmother. Elizabeth refuses to admit they are all getting older but, like her friends, loves being called "grandma."

The Hills family had a memorable year. Allen Sr. ran a highly competitive race to unseat a 16-term incumbent Sheriff (very difficult). Wife Jeanne writes, "In September, my grandson began school. Such a milestone!"  Son Adam is a rising star in the legal world with mergers and acquisitions; wife Sara got her MA and teaches 3rd grade. Best part, Adam writes: "I'm waiting to find out my tape date for "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," and I look forward to snatching the 7 figures from Regis." Son Andy and Monica Elmore were married in a beautiful ceremony, which we attended, at the Emma Willard School. Allen Jr. and Monica moved with their two children to a new home.

The last word for this year goes to Rachel (Louise) White who writes that daughter Shana aced her state boards, daughter Emily is going to England for 3 weeks to study Shakespeare, son Justin is going to study sign language, and she and husband Ron "are well, happy, middle aged, and who knows? I might stay up past 9 PM New Year's Eve."

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And so dear family and friends, we wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Love to each of you,

Brian J. Larkin and Elizabeth Anne VanderPutten
Christmas 2001, Washington DC