Profiles

A dwindling breed: 82-year-old gravedigger in Litchfield digs by hand

Donald Vannah crouched on one knee in front of his gravestone and wiped off dirt with the back of his gloved hand. To the right of his flat granite marker, where he’ll eventually be buried, is his wife’s gravestone. Vannah, 82, didn’t dig his wife’s grave — their three sons wouldn’t let him — but as head groundskeeper and gravedigger, he’s dug hundreds of other graves over the last 16 years at the Litchfield Plains Cemetery.

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One of Maine’s oldest legislators still serves community

Esther Shaw, 90, one of the oldest living Maine legislators, said she thinks everything happens for a reason. For Shaw, that means marrying a serviceman two months after meeting, moving to Maine with him and her entire family, becoming a newspaper reporter, serving in the state Legislature, working for Gov. John H. Reed, helping establish the Maine State Museum and, in her ninth decade, staying active in three community groups. “Sometimes I think that’s a little much,” Shaw said of the community groups.

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World War II nurse from Maine subject of new book

Rod Tenney said his family never spoke about what his aunt, a World War II nurse, experienced in her three years in an internment camp in the Philippines. As he grew older, however, Tenney learned more about his aunt, Alice Zwicker, one of the 77 Army and Navy nurses known as the Angels of Bataan, whom the Japanese held as prisoners of war after the Philippines fell in 1942. He learned of the starvation and terror his aunt experienced, how some in the camp set mousetraps on roofs to catch sparrows for food, and how the illnesses from neglect left her body weak.

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New pastor from Africa mixes determination, love

The Rev. Tsitsi Nakoma Moyo sat at a table in her office, looking down at her Dunkin’ Donuts coffee while she slid the cup between her hands. She talked about her family, her faith, feminism and sweet potatoes, but mostly about her journey to two small Maine churches by way of Massachusetts and Zimbabwe.

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