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Profile picture Donna DeGrechie
It's been an interesting 50 years
In 1961, my husband, Al Gaita, and I opened the Gaita Memorial Home for Funerals in Singac.Then in 1963, Al was hit by a car while crossing Union Blvd. and died 6 days later. I had to decide what to do--I knew the funeral business and Jim was 7 at the time. Although it would require 6 years of schooling and apprenticeship, I earned my mortician's license in 1969. the whole Gaita family was very helpful and supportive to me through this time.
In Jan. 1969, I married Ted Breure and in 1970 our daughter Mary was born. I continued with the business while Ted opened a bar in Clifton. Neither my son nor my husband had any interest in the funeral home, so in 1975 I sold it to a nephew, Carmen Gaita, Jr. We moved to Fairfield and I became an office manager for a doctor in Passaic. Problem was staff and patients were all Spanish speaking and I only had 2 yrs of Latin. After 6 weeks, I quit.
I always had a fascination with hair styling, so when I became restless being home in 1977, I went to Wilfred Academy(cosmetology school). By 1978, I had my license and was working in a shop in Little Falls.
That same year, while on vacation in Lake Champlain, we purchased a campground in Alburg, VT. The following year we moved into an 8 room, 150 yr old stone house on 120 acres on the lake. I ran the campground and Ted became a police officer.
In 1980, I became the "librarian" at my daughter's school. Although I wasn't certified for this, I was the only one working there. It also left me free in the summer when the campground was the busiest.
By 1985, my marriage was floundering and I knew I needed to find a better way to make a living. So I went back to college to become an art teacher.
In 1986, our marriage fell apart and we sold the campground. Mary and I moved into Alburg Village. In order to go to school fulltime, I left the librarian job and went to work for a newspaper selling ads in 1987. Then in fall of 1988, I did my practice teaching and left the newspaper to work for a country music station trying to build up new clientele.
In August of 1989, I was hired to be an art teacher in 3 towns--Alburg, Isle La Motte and North Hero--known as the Champlain Islands. That year I also met Robert(Pete)
DeGrechie. He had recently moved back to his home town of Alburg after a divorce, 22 yrs. in the Air Force, and teaching ROTC in high schools in NC and NH. We didn't marry until 1991 due to my having 2 dogs and 2 cats which he would not have in his house. When 2 animals died and my daughter Mary took the other two when she moved out, we married.
I continued to teach until 2001 when I injured my right knee. As I was going to be 62, I decided to retire. Also, Pete had emphysema and was begining to decline. The following year I injured my left knee and have since had both replaced. 2003 saw us move to St. Albans so that we could be closer to doctors and hospitals. In March 2006, Pete passed away. This prompted me to move me to a smaller place.
In the fall of 2006, I went to work for Young Rembrandts--an after school drawing program. I also give free drawing classes at the local senior center as well as delivering Meals on Wheels.
I continue to read, sew, garden, exercise at the gym, and play Scrabble on the computer. I hope to do a lot of traveling in the future.
My son Jim is a restaurant manager in Telluride CO. My daughter Mary has her own business of medical billing in VT.
Profile picture Angella Olivito Re: It's been an interesting 50 years
Dear Donna,
Can't wait to see you again. I have fond memories of our time together.
Profile picture Re: It's been an interesting 50 years
Interesting is a ild understatement. I don't imagine anyone can top your life. You deserve a lot of credit for all of the risks you took over the years. Hope to see you some time in the future. Tom and Lyn Fenwick