BEEN THERE, DONE THAT: Senior Spotlight

Name: Dana Denault

Age: 85, turning 86 on July 12

Dana Denault remembers being in Guantanamo Harbor during the Bay of Pigs Invasion.

Place of birth: Fall River

What is your fondest childhood memory?

I grew up in a small town, Westport, just outside of Fall River, and I enjoyed Horseneck Beach. It’s a beautiful beach. I spent a lot of time there, a lot of my friends were lifeguards. My high school girlfriend lived at Westport Harbor. My high school days were very enjoyable.

How long have you lived in Marblehead?

I moved to Marblehead in the early ’60s after marrying my first wife, Harriet, who was from Salem. [Harriet passed away in the 1980s.] I lived there for most of my life, except when we moved to Hawaii for a year when I worked for the Naval Investigative Service in the late ’60s. I moved to the Bertram House in 2021.

What jobs have you had and what was your favorite?

I served as an officer in the Navy on active duty for three years. Then I worked for NIS. I left that job in the late ’60s and became the director of admissions at Emerson College in the ’70s, then went to Curry College in admissions and finished my college admissions duties as the associate dean of admissions for the University of Denver. I retired in 1999.

What is the biggest change you’ve seen in the world?

The U.S. government has gotten itself into so many different battles. I left it when we were in the Vietnam War. We’ve gone from there to Middle Eastern issues. It seems like our government is embroiled in so many events.

What is your biggest accomplishment?

I enjoyed my admissions experience at Curry College where I was for over 10 years and where I had three very, very competent assistants working for me. We were able to increase the enrollment there and find some excellent students.

What moment in history is most vivid in your memory?

The Cuban missile crisis. I was on active duty on a ship in Guantanamo Harbor. I remember seeing the American invasion force of Bay of Pigs crossing Guantanamo Harbor. We were told to stand by and keep our engines running, in case we had to transport civilians who worked at Guantanamo Bay. 

What piece of advice do you have for young people today?

I would recommend that as you’re moving through your educational career that you do your job and maintain a balance in terms of your beliefs and criticisms. Everybody’s allowed to make their own decisions, but be reasonable about it. Don’t overextend yourself in your particular career or get involved in movements that have consequences on your career.

What are your secrets to living a long life?

Moderation. Eat, drink and exercise… all of it in moderation. And keep tabs on your health. I’ve been fortunate enough to have excellent doctors. I’ve gone through three open heart surgeries successfully. I feel wonderful. 

***Denault visits the Marblehead Council on Aging at least once a week to help serve lunch. He served as president of the COA’s Board of Directors after his retirement.

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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.

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