500 Years of Living  & How We Got Here

500 Years of Living follows six fascinating men, now in their 70‘s (see bios) as they present vignettes from memorable moments in their lives.

Their memories emanate from WriteLife, a memoir writing course in Salve Regina University’s Circle of Scholars program for older adults. Memoir topics were prompted by questions like: How did you learn about hard work? What fight/argument did you win? At a crossroads, what did you lose in your choice?

Writers responded to these challenges by creating seven, 3-5 page essays in eight weeks. Their stories appear in three sections: “The Early Years”, ”The Family Years”, and “The Work Years.” Come along on a boyhood bike trip to the cool waters of a swimming area – like the ones we can all recall as a kid. The lens shifts to Aleppo as we learn lessons from a stern father for whom a rule is a law. Meet “Little Lewis” soon to be the best four-legged friend of the policeman who saves him. Join U.S. Navy Lieutenant Heins as he oversees the steady roll of a Vietnamese gunboat off the coast of Phu Quoc island.

The settings are familiar or extraordinary with scenes that evoke memories of home or take us to distant parts like Syria, Jordan, Iwo Jima, Vietnam and aboard ships. These essays offer remarkably frank insights by men who assess their lives, then tell their stories well.

The Authors

BOB BLEDSOE is a United States Navy and Viet Nam veteran who holds a BS degree in Marine Engineering. He and his wife reside in Portsmouth R.I. Bob grew up in Napa California and attended the California Maritime Academy in Vallejo California. Bob developed an interest in writing while attending Circle of Scholar courses at the Salve Regina University.

JOHN BROUGHAN was raised in western Massachusetts, and took his first airplane flight (out of thousands) to Washington, DC, to attend Georgetown University. After graduation he began a short-lived teaching career at Deerfield Academy, and gratefully accepted a position in sales at Pan American Airways in Chicago where he met his wife, and where their three children were born. Having had enough of Chicago winters, he moved the family to Alexandria, VA and the presidency of an incentive and meetings travel company based in Washington, DC. Later he started his own travel company and a software development company specializing in the cruise industry. With retirement came a move to Newport, RI where he can be found planning his future trips and playing with his six visiting grandchildren.

JACK GALVIN has been a writer and teacher of writing for forty years. With Mark Pfetzer he wrote Within Reach: My Everest Story which was honored as an outstanding book for young adults. For many years he was head of the English Department at Rogers High school where he developed and taught composition courses. In summers he was tennis pro at Bailey’s Beach and Carnegie Abbey. In addition to his own writing, Jack works as an editor and writing coach.

RAYMOND HEINS was born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee, Ray graduated from the Naval Academy in 1963. After twenty years of naval service, he retired in Newport, Rhode Island, then spent another twenty- five years working first in the computer industry, then in real estate. Retiring from paid employment at 70, Ray found the Salve Regina University’s Circle of Scholars was an excellent way to keep the mind active. Among many other classes, Ray found Jack Galvin and his Write Life sessions both challenging and rewarding. Now an empty nester, with four kids spread far and wide, Ray and wife travel, study at Salve, suffer with the Boston Red Sox, glory in the New England Patriots, and participate in many civic and church activities.

DICK HUNT was born in White Plains New York, graduated from Lehigh University and went to work for Westinghouse Electric in Boston, initially in engineering sales functions. Pushing to get into Advertising, he moved to became Promotion manager at American Cyanamid Building Products in Cambridge, then to Wilson Haight & Welch Advertising Agency in Hartford, for many years. He ventured into publishing, experiencing various roles with Chilton, Thompson, Huebcore, VerticalNet and Nelson before Gorman and Company and Hunt Associates. He lives in Newport with his wife Anne of 57 years. Dick has two daughters with five grandchildren in RI and one daughter with one grandson in Maine.“My hobby is still trying to figure out how to write.”

GEORGE KASSIS was born and raised in Syria before moving to Lebanon to attend The American University of Beirut, and embarking on a career with The United Nations where he met his American wife, Jill. They had parallel professional careers, taking them on tours of duty to Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, and Yemen before being transferred by the United Nations to New York. Upon his “retirement” In 2009,George and Jill moved to Portsmouth, RI where they continue to enjoy the pleasures of The Ocean State.

CAPTAIN GORDON STEWART retired from the United States Navy after 30 years of active duty. During his service he flew over 130 combat missions in the A-7E Corsair II aircraft. He has logged over 5400 hours of accident free flight time including 878 carrier arrested landings. After commanding an A-7 squadron aboard the USS America, he came to Newport for the first time as a student at the Naval War College. After graduating with distinction, he continued at the Naval War College as a member of the faculty teaching courses in Planning and Decision-Making as well as developing an elective course on War-Gaming. It was during this time that he earned a Masters’ Degree in International Relations from Salve Regina University. Captain Stewart also served as the United States Naval Attache to Argentina and was the head of the Western Hemisphere Group on the staff of the Chief of Naval Operations. After he retired from a post-Navy career as a defense analyst and consultant, Captain Stewart returned to Newport where he presently resides with his wife Nanci. He has been a member of Salve Regina’s Circle of Scholars for 8 years.




Here we have the essays of six women who want to share their experiences of How They Got Here. And impressive those experiences are: escaping humble small towns to succeed, wrestling with family and career after the early death of a husband, rising above the challenges of a discordant family, reliving the stories of Irish heritage.
But that’s not all: Stories of driving down hair-pin curves in the mountains of Sicily, fighting the way to shore in a hurricane, surviving an automobile crash on a Boston bridge, childhood adventures in an Oklahoma oil camp, teenage gymnastics in a Slovakian-American gym in posh Greenwich, Connecticut, maintaining an inter-cultural friendship.
How these women got here, as you will see, is a combination of ability and foresight. All six developed professional careers during a time when women had to fight for them.
Read these short essays from these women’s lives, sometimes funny, sometimes courageous, often difficult, but always interesting discussions of how they got here.

The Authors

 Cathy Del Nero
Cathy’s life is divided into distinct chapters. With degrees in Theatre and English from Tufts University, she focused on acting and directing. A passion for sailing and adventure interrupted. Later, the need for stability bred a surprising thirty-seven-year career as a financial advisor. And now, she is writing. And feels she is home at last.

Dianne Elliott
Dianne’s life, like her careers, has had many iterations. After a short career as an operating room nurse she returned to college to get a B.S. in Nursing and English from Boston College and then a Masters in Mental Health Science from University of California, San Francisco. Her careers, from then forward, included roles as a clinical specialist in Mental Health, an Assistant Hospital Director at Oregon, a Vice President at Swedish Health Services in Seattle and finally owner of her D3 Consulting, an art consulting company specializing in incorporating art as part of a healing environment in healthcare. Throughout this journey, reading and writing kept her sane and centered.

Irene M Hubbard
Irene wrote letters for the first half of her life. As a teen she wrote to summer friends all winter long and once married she wrote weekly to her mother-in-law for fifteen years. She always chose Christmas cards that were large and had a lot of blank space so she could write long notes on each card, which she began doing right after Halloween. Having written so much about her life in this ongoing fashion, she has a fair recollection for memoir writing, which is what she is up to these days. Earlier careers included critical care nursing, family therapy and running a charter sailboat in the Caribbean.

Mary Clare O’Grady
Mary Clare studied at the University of Fribourg, Fribourg, Switzerland, received a Bachelor of Science in Finance from Providence College and a Master’s in Business Administration from Boston College. After a thirty-five year career in the corporate world, she now spends most days in her studio working on a novel but can also be found on Aquidneck Island’s many walking trails, sipping Earl Grey tea in a local café, or at home gardening or knitting.

Judith Porter
Judith was born and raised in Oklahoma. She holds bachelor’s degrees in journalism and education from the University of Oklahoma and master’s degrees in library science and media services from the University of Rhode Island. For many years she was supervisor of Media Services for the Portsmouth School Department. Since retirement she has both volunteered and been on staff at the Potter League for Animals. Her novel Coco Twain Tells the Truth was published in 2005. She is the mother of three and grandmother of six. She lives in Newport with her two cats.

Janet Skinner
Janet was raised in the village of Byram, in the town of Greenwich, Connecticut. Graduating from Dental Hygiene school, she later acquired a master’s Dental Hygiene Education from Columbia University becoming Clinical Director of Dental Hygiene at the Bristol Community College. Moving to Newport, she started her own small business, Lily’s of the Alley, a woman’s boutique. She later received a Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy. Janet continues to work full time in a private practice and as contractor to the Veteran’s Administration, seeing military families and individuals. This is her first attempt at writing short memoir stories.

Jack Galvin
Jack has been a writer and teacher of writing for forty years. With Mark Pfetzer he wrote Within Reach: My Everest Story which was honored as an outstanding book for young adults. For many years he was head of the English Department at Rogers High school where he developed and taught composition courses. In summers he was tennis pro at Bailey’s Beach and Carnegie Abbey. In addition to his own writing, Jack works as an editor and writing coach.