Blackstone Valley Tech student earns Eagle Scout medal

New Eagle Scout Thomas McGowan with the 43 wooden crosses he restored for the Blackstone Valley Veterans Association.
New Eagle Scout Thomas McGowan with the 43 wooden crosses he restored for the Blackstone Valley Veterans Association.

MEMORIAL EFFORT: Thomas McGowan, who is going into his senior year at Blackstone Valley Regional Vocational Technical High School in Upton, recently earned his Eagle Scout ranking, thanks in part to the veterans memorial project he completed as a member of Boy Scout Troop 155.

McGowan planned and oversaw the refurbishment of 43 wooden crosses, representing POWs and MIAs, that were originally presented more than 20 years ago as part of the Eagle Scout project by troop member Peter Gauthier. Displayed on special occasions by the Blackstone Valley Veterans Association at its Staff Sergeant Joseph E. Fitzgerald Post in Northbridge’s Whitinsville section, the crosses honor 38 Vietnam era members of the military, and four from Korea and World Wars I and II; one is dedicated to Fitzgerald, a Northbridge resident whose remains were returned from Vietnam in 1997.

According to McGowan, who lives in Whitinsville, his five-month project included sanding, repairing, and painting the crosses, and replacing the name stickers with engraved aluminum plates. He was assisted by his fellow troop members and leaders, and students and teachers from his school’s manufacturing, painting and design, and construction technology programs.


McGowan, whose family members have served in all branches of the military, said he wants to join the Marines after college.

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“My dad always taught me that everything we have didn’t come free, that many men and women gave up everything for it,” he said. “My hope is for all veterans to know that their service and sacrifice for our country is cherished.”

ALLERGY PIONEER: Weston resident Dr. Albert Sheffer (inset) was honored by the organization he founded about 35 years ago, the Needham-based Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s New England chapter, during its Breath of Spring gala in Wellesley. The event is part of the chapter’s efforts to support educational programs on asthma and life-threatening allergies.

Also at the event, state Representative Jay Kaufman of Lexington was acknowledged for his longtime support and success in advocating for children with life-threatening allergies. A bill that the Democrat cosponsored to allow students to carry EpiPens in school was signed into law by Governor Deval Patrick in January.

An internationally esteemed allergist and clinical professor at Harvard Medical School, Sheffer joined the medical staff at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in 1966, and became codirector of its allergy and immunology training program for physician scientists. In 1991, he was chairman of the first national panel convened by the National Institutes of Health to issue guidelines for diagnosing and managing asthma. He participated in the development of the global strategy for asthma management and prevention.


A senior physician in the division of rheumatology, immunology, and allergy at Brigham and Women’s, Sheffer said the presence of so many patients and fellow physicians at the awards ceremony in April was gratifying.

“The foundation has done a good job in educating asthmatics to recognize their symptoms and treat themselves,” he said. “Now we’re working to do the same for people with food allergies.”

ACADEMIC HONORS: Newton resident Matilda Bruckner (inset), who has taught in the Romance languages and literatures department at Boston College for three decades, was honored by her colleagues with three sessions highlighting her work at the 48th International Congress on Medieval Studies, held last month in Michigan.

The tribute followed the publication this year of a collection of works citing her contributions to the field. The festschrift, titled “Shaping Courtliness in Medieval France: Essays in Honor of Matilda Tomaryn Bruckner,” was coedited by a department colleague at BC, associate professor Laurie Shepard of Newtonville, and a former student, Daniel O’Sullivan, now an associate professor at the University of Mississippi.

Bruckner’s field of research includes medieval French literature, with a particular focus on 12th- and 13th-century romance, verse and prose narrative, troubadour, and trouvère lyric. Her achievements include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Council of Learned Societies.


Bruckner said she felt “incredible gratitude” when hearing of the conference sessions in her honor.

“The opportunity to learn that my work has made a difference, to hear a response from those who share my desire to make the past and present speak to each other in fruitful exchange — that is a privilege,” Bruckner said.

SILVER ANNIVERSARY:Elizabeth Johnston had earned a master’s degree in library science just one year before she applied for the position as director of the Sherborn Library in 1988. Feeling confident in her new turquoise suit, patent leather shoes, and matching black handbag purchased by her mother, Edna Johnston of Bellingham, she felt an instant rapport with the town library’s nine trustees, Johnston recalled.

Some of those same trustees recently surprised Johnston by celebrating her 25th anniversary during last month’s board meeting, which was also attended by current and past trustees, library staff, town employees, and residents. After some speeches, Johnston was presented with a decommissioned card catalogue, and a set of books to be added to the library’s collection in her honor.

Reflecting on her career, Johnston said she is particularly proud of the progress toward an estimated $7.5 million renovation and expansion project for the 43-year-old library building. The work is expected to begin when $3.6 million in state funding becomes available in the next few years. It will include the addition of a separate children’s room, updated heating and air-conditioning systems, and bringing the building into complete compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act.

“I live and breathe the traditions of this library and the people who helped make it the way it is today,” she said. “I want to be the one who carries forth the vision of the many community members who created this wonderful place.”

NEWS FROM INDIAN HILL: The piano department at the Indian Hill Music School in Littleton recently selected 11 young students to perform in its honors recital.

Chosen for the honor were Olivia Liang, 8, of Stow; Justin Shan, 10, of Acton; Kyle Chen, 11, of Groton; Anshuman Das, 16, of Bedford; Boxborough siblings Yumi Sato, 13, and Yuji Sato, 17; Justin Gu, 11, of Andover; Xuan Chen, 14, of Lexington; Irene Zheng, 7, and Carina Hou, 11, both of Westford; and Amelia Wagner, 15, of Nashua.

In addition, Indian Hill Music thanked two of its longtime business partners at a recent awards breakfast. The Deluxe Corporation Foundation, with local offices in Groton and Townsend, was cited for its $160,000 in contributions toward Indian Hill’s capital campaign, community outreach, and concerts over the past 20 years.

Also, Acton resident Ursula Flury, a principal of Ursula Graf Real Estate in Groton, was honored for giving $10,000 as a chamber concert sponsor over the past 10 years.

People items may be submitted to Cindy Cantrell at cantrell@ globe.com.