Lasting lessons: Forever Marbleheaders’ project to remember hundreds of MHS teachers

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Editor Leigh Blander is an experienced TV, radio and print journalist who has written hundreds of stories for local newspapers, including the Marblehead Reporter.

If you attended Marblehead High School, you may have wondered what ever happened to some of your favorite — and not so favorite — teachers.

The group Forever Marbleheaders has launched a campaign spotlighting educators at Marblehead High from 1950 to 1980. It’s getting a lot of attention.

Members of Forever Marbleheaders, from left, Marge Gallo Armstrong, Dan Dixey, Bill Goodwin and
Maureen Graves Anderson.

“People are having fun participating,” said Maureen Graves Anderson, a 1980 MHS graduate who is leading the MHS Teachers Project, which is posted on Facebook. “People like sharing memories; it has value just for that. It’s been fun to see the arc of a teacher’s career sometimes, to see what they did.”

Graves Anderson is a founding member of Forever Marbleheaders, a group of 30 current Marblehead residents and people who grew up in town but moved away. Graves Anderson has lived in Maine for more than 30 years, for example. One of her co-founders, Dan Dixey, is an 11th-generation Marbleheader who moved to Maine 17 years ago.

For the MHS Teachers Project, Graves Anderson, with help from a few volunteers, has researched more than 100 people who worked at MHS during 1950-1980, scouring through yearbooks at Abbot Library and online, and looking at editions of the old Marblehead Messenger.

Nan Dumas, a member of the MHS class of 1976, and still lives in town, is helping.

“I do genealogy and have subscriptions to and,” she explained. “I love Marblehead history. I feel like it becomes part of your DNA when you grow up here.”

Graves Anderson, whose own mother taught chemistry at MHS, posts a teacher’s photo with a brief description and, typically, a link to their obituary. Then, she encourages folks to share memories.

“I’m a historian by hobby,” she laughed.

So far, she has posted about 160 teachers out of 300 she has identified. She is only posting teachers who have passed away, or ones who are still living and give their permission.

Perhaps the earliest teacher she has identified is Buela Church, who taught “commercial,” or business, starting in 1914. She retired in 1962.  

Industrial arts teachers and coaches seem to be the most popular, Anderson Graves said.

“All the guys are writing in about loving their shop teachers, like Mr. DeCastro, Mr. Fabiszewski and Mr. Russell,” she said. “They’ve gotten the most comments.”

There’s also Bob Roland, who coached hockey from the ’60s to the ’80s, and Herm Hussey, a math and social studies teacher who coached football from 1947 to 1977.

Coach Tremaine Robarts, at MHS from 1935-1969, was in “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” for scoring a touchdown his first game of high school, prep school, college and in a professional league.

Rod Pickard coached in the ’70s and ’80s. Peter Marin remembers him.

“My old futbol coach — Really enjoyed playing for him,” Martin wrote about Pickard on Facebook. “Some of my best memories in high school were from that team. He granted my delusion that I should move to middie — should have stayed on back line.”

English teacher Deborah Caulkins also received a  lot of comments.

”One of the best teachers I ever had, and a delightful friend too,” wrote Merry Tufts. “She even came to our wedding. I used tools she taught me in college. She was TOP NOTCH. A wonderful person thru and thru. RIP Mrs. C!”

Anderson has noticed some interesting trends from all her research. “Most math teachers were men back then, and science was mostly men. English was mostly women. For gym, they had men and women teachers. Gym was not co-ed for a long time.”

Another thing that “cracked me up,” Graves said, was seeing the MHS matron listed in yearbooks up to 1980.

“The matron was in charge of the girls bathrooms, making sure girls didn’t smoke and that they followed the dress code, making sure their dresses weren’t too short,” she said.

Holding on to childhood

So why is this project resonating with so many people?  

“Marblehead is kind of special in terms of history,” Graves Anderson said. “Everyone in Marblehead feels that the history of Marblehead is theirs. They own it.”

People want to remember simpler, happier times from their childhoods, Dixey said.

“Marblehead was such a tight-knit community,” he said. I’ll be 70 next year, which means I grew up in the late ’50s and ’60s. Everybody knew everybody else. We didn’t lock our doors. A lot of people just want to hold on to that childhood that they had.”

Forever Marbleheaders meets monthly in Maine. In 2020, it published “Forever Marbleheaders: Memories of Growing Up in Marblehead 1930-1980,” a book of personal essays by residents.

For more information about the group, contact Graves Anderson at


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