UPDATE: The Current and The Beacon Restaurant are hosting a fundraiser for Ed Bartholomew on Thursday, Sept. 14, including a silent auction. The restaurant will donate 100% of the proceeds from all desserts purchased. The Beacon Restaurant opens at 3 p.m. for dinner and the silent auction will begin at 6 p.m. For new details, visit thebeaconmarblehead.com/.
Ivy Walsh has been closely watching the news about the devastating wildfires in Lahaina, Hawaii, from her home here in Marblehead. Her 77-year-old father Ed Bartholomew has lived in Lahaina for decades and barely escaped the fire with his life, the clothes on his back, his birth certificate and nothing else.
“Not only did he lose his house, he lost his neighborhood and his community. All of that now is inexplicably gone,” Walsh told the Current.
A massive wildfire ravaged Lahaina on August 8, killing more than 100 people and destroying the town. Several hundred people are still missing.
Walsh grew up in Hawaii and moved to Marblehead in 2012. She visits her dad in Lahaina regularly.
“Lahaina is our home away from Marblehead,” she said. “It reminds me a lot of Marblehead. It has a lot of little shops. It has artists. It has that aloha spirit, that friendly nature and sense of community.”
Bartholomew is a retired science teacher and active artist who regularly sold his paintings at a Lahaina art fair. He lost all his work and his art supplies. He hasn’t been allowed back to his neighborhood, but satellite pictures show what happened to his home.
“It’s completely ash,” Walsh said. Bartholomew is staying with Walsh’s sister, who lives in another part of Maui, and trying to figure out what to do next.
Walsh has spoken to her father several times since the fire. He told her how he escaped.
“He lost his cell phone and internet service mid-day, but he had built a star-gazing deck on top of his carport and so from up there he was able to see the smoke from the fires. He didn’t leave early on because there were no warnings,” from the government.
Walsh continued: “When he felt the heat from the fire and the wind swirling, he realized he needed to leave, grabbed his birth certificate and an overnight bag and he left. We all feel so grateful that he survived when so many others did not.”
Walsh said her two kids, ages 11 and 14, are heartbroken that their special place has been destroyed.
“They’re incredibly sad and they’re in shock because that is where we go,” she said. “We always walk down to Front Street [Lahaina also has a Front Street] to get shaved ice and go to the beach. We were going to go for Christmas this year. We will be back someday.”
Walsh has started a gofundme to raise $5,000 for her father so he can buy art supplies and start painting again, as a part of his emotional healing.
“I’m hoping to help him raise money to rebuild his art sipplies and his life, so he can make art again. “It’s the one thing I can do for him to rejuvenate his spirit,” she said.
Leigh Blander is an experienced TV, radio and print journalist who has written hundreds of stories for local newspapers, including the Marblehead Reporter. She also works as a PR specialist.