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Holding Hands Still And Sharing Fifty-Five Years Of Memories With Roland And Sandra Guyette
photo by providedThe Guyette family gathered to celebrate the dedication of the VUHS athletic fields to Roland.
photo by providedHolding hands early on, Roland & Sandra Guyette take great pride in family and living in a small town and working to help others.
photo by providedBirthdays, Christmas and family vacations are some of the most treasured memories of this couple.
Tuesday January 3, 2017
By Cookie Steponaitis
Roland and Sandra Guyette met for the first time in Haverhill, New Hampshire where Roland was teaching Social Studies and spent five to six months dating and doing a lot of roller skating before their marriage on August 19th, 1961. The couple was married in Saint Johnsbury, Vermont and holding hands then and now, the couple’s marriage continues strong at fifty-five years, four children, fourteen grandchildren and one great-grandchild later. Sharing Memories with the Guyette’s finds the focus on family and a partnership that has been the foundation of the couple’s commitment to each other and their children Lindy, Lori, Shelley and Greg. “We had the name Greg picked out for our first child, but it took him four children to get to use it,” shared Sandra with a smile.
Whether sharing tales of adventures to Santa’s Village in Jefferson, New Hampshire, Old Orchard Beach, Maine and putting up the many Christmas trees, both Sandra and Roland blend their own personal memories with anecdotes of their children and their inquisitive nature and love of all things a small-town life had to offer. “Lindy was always inquisitive to what was in the presents under the Christmas tree,” shared Roland. “One package was way behind the tree and was quite large. She spent hours trying to figure out what the package was. When she opened it, I had wrapped up the center leaf of our kitchen table.” Sandra shared that Christmas was one of the most treasured of her memories and she spent hours baking and making cookies, cakes and pies for the holiday season. Sandra and best friend Fran Allo spent months prepping both homes with decorations, gifts and plans for the holiday season. Sandra and Fran or ‘Thelma and Louise’ as the families called them, were glued at the hip and went every week together to Middlebury and out for rides. Christmas never went out of style at the Guyette and Allo houses with Sandra’s baking and Fran singing Christmas carols year long. While Christmas has been downsized now and Roland and Sandra go to their children’s homes one of Sandra’s family tradition made each year by Roland is a Jell-O Surprise Salad with ingredients including pineapple, cream cheese, lime Jell-O, sugar, cherries and green peppers and is as much a tradition as the trees, carols and gathering of the family.
The Guyettes moved the family to Vergennes in the summer of 1967 and arrived concurrently with the opening of the new Vergennes Pool. Roland and Sandra lived up behind the bowling alley for about a month and bought the family home at 45 South Maple Street which became the homestead for the next thirty-three years. “Sandra raised the children,” affirmed Roland, “and I taught and worked with kids and with athletics.” While busy with her children and their swimming lessons, activities, musicals, cheerleading, gymnastics and baseball, soccer and basketball, Sandra also worked for twelve years as an assistant to the preschool programs for ANWSU. “We received a letter from the Strada girl,” explained Roland. “She wrote us an amazing letter on the impact Sandra has on her life and her career choices when she was just a little girl. We still have that letter and I am so proud of all the lives she touched.”
Teaching nearly 3200 young people to drive in a 33-year career at VUHS, Roland also taught at Newport Center and Haverhill, New Hampshire totaling 43 years in education. Roland treasures the stories of all his past students, but finds it hard to express in words what it meant to him to have the VUHS athletic fields named for him. Guyette left the school officially after teaching from 1967-2000 and can still be found running the score clock at home basketball games and shared a story of a recent Varsity basketball player Adam Gill who had an incredible 41 point game. Whether it was on a sports field, at the Vergennes Pool, behind the wheel of a car, at the pre-school, family gatherings both Guyettes are linked to activities that span generations of children.
A series of events including being hit by a car in 1989, a heart attack and being diagnosed with Dementia three years ago have challenged Sandra’s strength and health, but has not dimmed her love for Roland or the couple’s devotion to each other. Sandra now resides at a residential care home and waits patiently for Roland each day who spends most of his day with her and leaves only when it is time for running the sports clock at a home Commodore game. Holding hands at the beginning and end of the interview with this reporter, the Guyettes were just beginning to get into the hundreds of moments and thousands of memories that fifty-five years has given them. “Learn how to get over the little bumps and disagreements,” shared Roland when asked to share advice to the couples starting out today. “Don’t forget to hold hands too,” concluded Sandra, “and go through life together.”
This is sound advice from a couple who are still devoted to each other and family and whose lives touched generations of children in the Champlain Valley. “I don’t remember it all like I used to,” said Sandra with a nod of her head and a look of regret in her eyes. While she may not have it all at her fingertips, Roland and the children are there to fill in the smiles, share the memories and celebrate as they did this Christmas a lesson long learned and valued in small town Vermont. Rule number one is it is all about family and rule number two reads refer to rule number one.
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