March 10, 2010

Birthday girl is active, vital and 95 years young

— BIDDEFORD — A 95th birthday is certainly something to celebrate and Philomene DeSilva Laroche earned that honor Sept. 5 at a party hosted by her granddaughter, Carol Ann Tate, in Biddeford.

In fact, Mrs. Laroche, born in 1914 to Maria and Manuel Rodriguez DeSilva (frame of reference: only two years after the Titanic sank), has spent her entire 95 years living in Biddeford. Forty of those years were spent working at WestPoint Pepperell, the mill that once was the heartbeat of Biddeford. Age hasn't slowed her down. She still holds a part-time job cleaning the office for Dr. Robert Fernandez in Biddeford.

She is the wife of the late Theodore Laroche Sr. and is mother to three children: Evelyn Stross of Cromwell, Conn., Paul Laroche of Biddeford and Theodore Laroche of Delaware. She is ''Nana'' to so many special grandchildren and great-grandchildren, there's not enough space to list them here. Hopefully, though, they are joining us here at the Maine Sunday Telegram in a collective ''Happy Birthday, Nana''!


SACO — Four young women took home crowns during the Miss Maine Day Pageant held at the Hampton Inn on Aug. 30. Shelbi L. Wassick, 16, of Windham, was named Miss Maine Teen; Samantha Clark, 14, of Lewiston, was named Miss Young Teen Maine; Melissa Hebert, 10, of Gray, was named Miss Little Maine; and Makayla Maxine Farrington, 7, of Springfield, was named Miss Mini Maine.

Miss Maine Day is an extension of Maine's Outstanding Teen and Pine Tree Princess programs, and is a fundraiser for the Miss Maine program, a preliminary pageant for young women hoping to compete nationally at the Miss America pageant. Miss Maine Day helps young Maine women develop poise, grace, community service and talent. For more information about the organization, visit


CAPE ELIZABETH — Late in August, five generations of the same family came together to celebrate in the state that -- no matter where the wind takes them -- is always called home.

The five generations gathering in this special reunion were of the Leadbetter family, known also as the Lobster Shack folks.

Patriarch James Leadbetter, 94, purchased Cape Elizabeth's landmark Lobster Shack in 1968 and has been the owner ever since. His son, Leigh Leadbetter, 67, former owner of Leadbetter's Bakery in Portland, who now lives ''away,'' came to town in August to make the circle of five complete. His daughter, Judi (Leadbetter) Gauvreau, 46, joined the crew; as did her son Shane Leadbetter, 23; and Shane's little baby boy, Denver Leigh Leadbetter, who is only 6 weeks old.

Those who got to be with the family during the two days Denver was visiting were lucky. The stories told certainly could have filled a book of all the amazing tales of such a well-known Portland family.


SOUTH PORTLAND — The rotary clubs of South Portland and Cape Elizabeth graciously presented a check for $9,800 to Southern Maine Community College on Wednesday, Aug. 26.

The money was raised during the International Food Festival held on campus last April and will be used to support the college's international and multicultural students through the International Student Scholarship. Good money raised for a good cause.


OGUNQUIT — Dying to know the winners of the Ogunquit Chamber of Commerce's 36th Annual Sidewalk Art Show and Sale held Thursday, Aug. 20?

First place went to Michael Dayer of Dresden for his photograph, ''Freedom of Letting Go.'' Second place went to Karen Kemp of Jamaica Plain, Mass., for her etching with Chin Colle, ''Crab.'' Third place went to Flo Kemp (also Karen's mom) of Setauket, N.Y., for her soft ground etching, ''Stormy.''

The Ogunquit Chamber also gives accolades to these artists: Ron Hayes of York, Ann Legg of Kennebunk and Norman West of Ogunquit, who served as this year's judges.

— Compiled by Giselle Goodman and Avery Yale Kamila

— Courtesy photos

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