SENIOR BEAT

Hale Awards honor those of creative spirit

Posted July 05, 2011, at 4:20 p.m.

Every year, Eastern Area Agency on Aging hosts the George Hale Silver Frame Awards for the picture of active aging. We are always amazed and inspired by the cast of nominees each year, and 2011 was no exception.

There are four categories with two age groups. Over the next few weeks, you will meet the extraordinary seniors, from each category, who have won a 2011 award and exemplify active aging.

Marge Ahlin, 75, of Machias won for the Artistic-Creative category, age 60-75. She was nominated by Ruth Leubecker.

“I nominated Marge because she has used her considerable talents and organizational skills to benefit others over the past 40 years,” wrote Leubecker in her nomination letter.

Talented she is. Ahlin has written, directed and performed in the musicals of the Wild Blueberry Festival, to sellout crowds. She has written annual variety shows for the benefit of four food pantries, organized and performed in Follies for Fuel, and done numerous benefit shows and suppers for the terminally ill.

As a director of the Downriver Theatre Company, she now is writing and directing a show for the benefit of the Norman Nelson Scholarship Fund, which will be awarded annually to a high school senior pursuing a career in the performing arts. This scholarship is in honor of Nelson’s performing spirit that was active right up until his recent passing.

Ahlin brought the Tambourine Toccatos to Machias.

“These seven to 12 ladies are a raucously funny act and a great drawing card whenever they perform,” wrote Leubecker. “Their routine is a unique part of history, and because it never deviates, people anticipate the ending with baited breath. It is an ingenious and highly entertaining minstrel routine, which was taught to Ahlin by an old-timer many years ago.”

Congratulations, Marge.

Jean Eula Edwards, 77, of Union won for the Artistic-Creative category, age 76-plus. She was nominated by her daughter Rose Anne Utley.

“The originality, vivaciousness, determination and talents of my mother are unusual for someone 77 years old,” wrote Utley in her nomination letter. Utley has always been active and creative. She founded a free dance program for the youth of Appleton, where she choreographed, designed and made the costumes for an annual spring show for at least a dozen children, wrote Utley.

She was stricken with arthritis, but rather than slowing her down, it changed her focus. “It had been a long life dream of hers to write a historical novel,” wrote Utley. To date, Edwards has written four Maine-based novels: “The Glove”; “Mercy, Merci”; “Phoenix” and “Quiltmaster”; two poetry books: “Shore Songs” and “Maine Wildflowers”; an inspirational book, “Hello, God, It’s me Again”; and a children’s book, “The Adventures of Mattie McCracken.”

Edwards’ original poetry is intertwined to enhance the story line of her books. She uses original artwork to depict characters, done in period costuming, which brings them to life.

“Her children, grandchildren, relatives and friends all participate,” said Utley. “She uses many resources in study for her novels, for correct time frames and events, presenting history in a fresh and new manner.”

Edwards’ sight has been plagued by macular degeneration but, true to her spirit, she is using “best aids available at this time as she still has a couple more books brewing in her mind,” said Utley. “Her upbeat attitude is an inspiration to her children, grandchildren, relative and friends, that age and its physical changes cannot take away our creativity and desires to explore what life has to offer.”

Congratulations, Jean.

Next time, meet more EAAA George Hale Silver Frame Award winners.

Carol Higgins Taylor is director of communications at Eastern Area Agency on Aging. Email Higgins Taylor at chtaylor@eaaa.org. For information on EAAA, call 941-2865, toll-free 800-432-7812, email info@eaaa.org or visit http://www.EAAA.org. TTY 992-0150.

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