Trustees & Staff
Bethel Historical Society Board of Trustees 2016-17
Charles Raymond, President
Educator; term ends 2019
Charles (Charlie) Raymond grew up in Hingham, Massachusetts. He graduated from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, where he majored in Anthropology and gained certification to teach history. After teaching at an alternative school in Amherst, he and his wife, Betsy, taught for a year in Western Samoa before moving to Bethel in 1983. Charlie taught at Telstar Regional High School for 20 years and then became Dean of Students there for the next 10 years. Charlie served in several capacities at the Bethel Historical Society during the late 1980s and early 1990s. He continues to encourage young people of the community to embrace a love for local history and promote their involvement with it. Charlie and his wife, Betsy, have two grown children, Caroline and Andrew. The Raymonds live in a house built by Betsy’s great uncle, Gilbert Tuell, who constructed the house in 1883 for his brother, Francis Tuell, Bethel’s first dentist.
Donna Gillis, Vice-president
Business Owner; term ends 2017
Born in Lawrence, Mass., Donna Sheerin Gillis worked for the Modicon company — manufacturer of Programmable Controllers — of Andover, Mass., for 22 years, starting in 1973. When the company purchased automated machines, she was assigned responsibility to train staff on how to use them, and was promoted to Supervisor of a data entry department. Her responsibilities included writing a comprehensive training manual on how to flow material through the factory and serving as Inventory Control Analyst, supervising an inventory of the entire factory once a year. (This entailed a comprehensive training program for all company personnel on how to take an inventory. Once the inventory was completed, her data entry department inputted the multimillion dollar figures back into the computer system.) Her hobbies include skiing, mountain biking and hiking. In 1988, she and her husband, John, discovered Sunday River Ski Resort. They bought a condo in Bethel and found ourselves spending all of their free time in this beautiful place. In 1994, they were approached by a friend who asked if they would be interested in investing in Pat’s Pizza; they soon quit their jobs and moved to Bethel. In 1997, Donna’s sister introduced her to quilting — a major reason why she became interested in the Bethel Historical Society. Most of the quilts that she makes are created from the clothing of people who have passed on. She calls them “Texture of Life” quilts or healing quilts, and believes they will ultimately become a part of history in years to come. Her quilts tell the story of a life once lived, and have been made for many people in the Bethel area. She belongs to the Bethel Historical Society because she loves touching time gone by.
Jacalyn Bell, Treasurer
Retired Business Manager; term ends 2019
Jacalyn (Jackie) Jackie Bell worked for many years at the University of Massachusetts/Amherst as a Business Manager for a large radome-enclosed radio telescope operated by the Physics & Astronomy Department. The telescope and facility, used by visiting scientists from around the world, was funded solely through federal grants. The primary responsibility of the Manager was the preparation, expenditures, and management of those federal budgets; included were projects for the Hubble Space Telescope. That was followed by another budget position at AT&T Headquarters in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, as a Special Projects Coordinator for Minority Markets, managing the budgets for the Market’s projects and sponsored events. After a few years in New Jersey, Jackie’s husband, Gerry, decided to retire and they moved to Maine, bought an abandoned jail on an island off Portland, Maine, and spent a couple of years remodeling the building into a single family dwelling. Since moving to Maine, she has spent time as a CFO of an internet company and an accountant for three restaurants. She has served on administration and board of trustee computer advisory groups, taught computer programs to support personnel, spent time on computer and internet technical support, and designed databases and web sites. After skiing at Sunday River Resort for many years and finding a house that they liked, the Bells moved to Bethel, and now reside with their dog, Abby, on Paradise Road. As the Bethel Historical Society’s Registrar, she generates and maintains records relating to the organization’s collections, and also monitors items on loan to and from the Society.
Karen Bean, Secretary and Clerk of the Trustees
Retired Educator; term ends 2017
Karen Gulbrandsen Bean came to Bethel in 1976. She was born and raised in Massachusetts, while spending her childhood summers in Maine. After graduating from Bates College in 1967, she taught school in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Virginia as she moved with her husband, Don, while he served in the Coast Guard. During her time in Virginia, she completed an M.Ed at William and Mary. After moving to Bethel, she returned to teaching and spent 25 years in SAD 44. During those years, she completed a C.A.S at the University of Southern Maine. Karen became active in the Society shortly after moving to Bethel and, as a school instructor, used the Society as a resource for teaching. She believes that it is important to learn about and understand one’s heritage, and thus it is important to preserve that history for coming generations. She and her husband, Don, live on the North Road in an 1850s farmhouse where they raised their two sons.
Catherine S.-C. Newell
Retired Educator; term ends 2017
Catherine (Cathy) Newell recently retired from 12 years as the Executive Director of the Maine Adult Education Association. A graduate of Vassar College, Cathy holds a Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of Maine where she served as a member of the Board of Visitors from 2004 to 2010, serving her final year as chair. For more than 20 years, Cathy was the Director of Adult Education for MSAD 44, based at Telstar Regional High School in Bethel, Maine. She is a past board member and president of the Bethel Historical Society; during that time, she wrote several publications on topics such as Molly Ockett, coordinated others such as the Special Edition of the Bethel Citizen in 1974, and participated in a number of oral history projects. She has been an active Democrat for 50 years and has been the Chair of the Oxford County Democrats since 2001. Her other current community connections include: Bethel Library Association, Trustee & Past President; Bethel Airport Authority, Board Member; District Exchange, Founding Member & former Chair. Her previous service includes Project Opportunity, Member; Town of Greenwood, Appeals Board former Chair; Community Lakes Association, North Pond Representative; Bucks Ledges Project, Group Convener; Bethel Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Committee; Channel IV Committee; Bethel Data Corporation, Founding Member; Northern Oxford Health & Service Council, Board Member; Friends of the Androscoggin, Founding Member; Bethel Family Health Center, Board Member; Bethel Planning Board; and the Bethel/NTL Liaison Committee. Cathy and her husband, Charlie, are the parents of two grown children, and have two granddaughters and two grandsons. They reside on North Pond in Greenwood.
Nancy Stowell White
Businesswoman; term ends 2017
Nancy was born and raised in Bethel. After graduating from Gould Academy, she completed a BA in American History from Mount Holyoke College. Later, she earned an MAT in Social Studies from Brown University, and is currently a student at the Chaplaincy Institute of Maine. She taught social studies at Rye High School in Rye, New York, for 6 years, serving as department chair for her last 2 years. She has worked at Gould Academy in Bethel as Director of Admissions, Senior Advancement Officer and as a substitute history teacher. From 2000 to 2008 she and her husband, Bill, owned and managed the Sudbury Inn and Suds Pub in Bethel. She has served on the Bethel Planning Board and on the board of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine. She views BHS as a vibrant and vital local center for historical research, preservation, teaching and learning, and is very interested in seeing the Society continue to evolve and grow.
Retired Businesswoman; term ends 2017
Margaret (Peggy) Wight grew up on Long Island, NY. She has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Westminster College and a master’s in Elementary Ed. from Hofstra University. She and her husband, Steve, moved to Newry in 1971 where they raised their three children. For 38 years the Wights ran Sunday River Inn & Cross Country Ski Center. She has always enjoyed history and feels that history of the place where you live is not only interesting, but important to preserve and share — thus her interest in the Society continuing to be a vital part of the community as a resource for all ages.
Michael S. Stowell
Retired Businessman; term ends 2018
A Maine native, Michael (Mike) Swift Stowell was born in Locke’s Mills (Greenwood), lived in Andover until 1953, and then moved to West Bethel. He graduated from Gould Academy in 1958, attended the University of Maine in Orono, graduated from Mercy College, Dobbs Ferry, New York, with a BS in Financial Management, and attended Long Island University studying Computer Science. Mike started his work career in the Bethel area working for P.H. Chadbourne, Stowell Silk Spool Company and Frank Lowell Building Construction. In 1962, he joined A.T. & T. Co. as a computer technician at the Andover Telstar Satellite Earth Station. He was elected as Selectman and Assessor for Bethel in 1964. He worked as a program developer for BTL in Naperville, Illinois, from 1974 to 1977. He held many managerial positions for AT&T throughout the country before retiring in 1989. After retirement, Mike was a Computer/Communications Consultant for AT&T, Lucent, Bell Telephone Laboratories, and Government Marketing. Mike was involved with Gould Academy as a Class Agent for forty years, Alumni Board Director for six and Trustee for two years. His interests include travel, antiques, old postcards, local history and the genealogy of Oxford County families.
Businessman; term ends 2018
William (Bill) Strauss is the President and founder of FutureMetrics, LLC. FutureMetrics provides project analysis, due diligence, and expert advice in the wood pellet manufacturing sector. Bill is also a co-founder and a Director of Maine Energy Systems, the leading North American manufacturer of fully automatic wood pellet fueled central heating systems for the residential and commercial markets. He is also the chief economist for the Biomass Thermal Energy Council (Washington, DC) and the chief economist for the Maine Pellet Fuels Association. He served as the chief economist on the Maine Governor’s Wood-to-Energy Task force in 2008. Dr. Strauss is the 2012 recipient of the International Excellence in Bioenergy award. He has an MBA (specializing in Finance) and a Ph.D. (Economics, Earth Systems Science) both from the University of New Hampshire. Bill has been a resident of Albany Township (near Bethel) for 15 years. He enjoys mountain biking and skiing.
Rosemary Bunn Laban
Retired Educator; term ends 2019
Rosemary was a Bethel “summer person” for twelve years before moving to Bethel full-time in 2005. As a retired middle school language arts and social studies teacher, she has always had an interest in history, especially in lifestyles. She served as a docent at Goodwood Museum and Gardens in Tallahassee, Florida, at Maine Maritime Museum in Bath, Maine, and Museum of the Marshalls in Kwajalein, Marshall Islands. She rarely passes up a tour of an historical home. Rosemary has a lifetime membership with BHS and enjoys watching the Society expand and increase its presence in Maine.
Sarah S. Tucker (2019)
Douglas Wilson (2019)
Bethel Historical Society Staff
Randall H. Bennett, Executive Director / Curator of Collections
Randall Bennett received his B.S. degree from the University of Maine at Farmington, and has done graduate work at the University of Southern Maine and University of New Hampshire. He has authored many historical articles for various magazines and journals, and has written or edited twelve books on local and regional history topics, as well as genealogical subjects (he is the sixth generation of his family to reside in Bethel). In 1987, he was honored by the American Association for State and Local History for his contributions to the field. He has represented the Bethel Historical Society at meetings of the Pequawket League of Historical Societies and has served as President of that organization. A frequent reviewer of books for Maine History, the quarterly of the Maine Historical Society, he has taught several of the Society’s regional history courses, including two series on White Mountain history. Frequently consulted by genealogists, journalists, architectural historians, and scholars for his detailed knowledge of the region, he was appointed the Society’s Executive Director on January 1, 2010. He has served as the Society’s Curator of Collections and Assistant Director since the mid-1980s.
Danna Brown Nickerson, Administrative Assistant / Museum Shop Manager
In addition to her position as the Society’s Administrative Assistant, Danna Nickerson serves as Manager of the Society’s Museum Shop and as a Curatorial Assistant in the Society’s short- and long-term exhibits program. A Bethel native whose ancestors were among the early settlers of the town, she has an Associates Degree from Westbrook College and nearly three decades of business experience. As the Society’s Administrative Assistant, she handles a myriad of tasks relating to the daily operations of the Society, including financial and computer operations, membership correspondence and record keeping, and coordination of all mailings. In her role as Museum Shop Manager, she orders merchandise, supervises volunteers, and oversees the Shop page on the Society’s website.
William F. Chapman, Librarian / Archivist
William F. (Will) Chapman of Greenwood, Maine, attended Bowdoin College and the University of Maine at Augusta, graduating from UMA in 2014 with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Information and Library Services. He has served as Librarian/Archivist since June 2015, prior to which he worked as a reference assistant at the Auburn Public Library, and as assistant archivist at the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village Library in New Gloucester. His responsibilities at the Society include organizing and processing the Society’s extensive collection of books, manuscripts, photographs, maps and other related materials. Currently, he is working to prepare the organization’s library and archival collections for the planned transfer to the new Huntoon Center facility in spring 2017, as well as developing a new online catalog which will be launched concurrently with the opening of the new facility. Will has deep roots to the Bethel area and is a direct descendant of the Rev. Eliphaz Chapman, who chose the name “Bethel” (from the Book of Genesis) when the town was incorporated in 1796. In addition to his work at BHS, he also continues to work part-time at Shaker Village and serves as President of the Greenwood Historical Society in Greenwood, Maine.
Jacalyn Bell, Registrar
Jackie worked for many years at the University of Massachusetts/Amherst as a Business Manager for a large radome-enclosed radio telescope operated by the Physics & Astronomy Department. The telescope and facility, used by visiting scientists from around the world, was funded solely through federal grants. The primary responsibility of the Manager was the preparation, expenditures, and management of those federal budgets; included were projects for the Hubble Space Telescope. That was followed by another budget position at AT&T Headquarters in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, as a Special Projects Coordinator for Minority Markets, managing the budgets for the Market’s projects and sponsored events. After a few years in New Jersey, Jackie’s husband, Gerry, decided to retire and they moved to Maine, bought an abandoned jail on an island off Portland, Maine, and spent a couple of years remodeling the building into a single family dwelling. She has spent the years since moving to Maine as a CFO of an internet company and an accountant for three restaurants. In her spare time through the years, she has served on administration and board of trustee computer advisory groups, taught computer programs to support personnel, spent time on computer and internet technical support, and designed databases and web sites. After skiing at Sunday River Resort for many years and finding a house that they liked, the Bells moved to Bethel about five years ago, and now reside with their dog, Dakota, on Paradise Road. As the Bethel Historical Society’s Registrar, she generates and maintains records relating to the organization’s collections, and also monitors items on loan to and from the Society.
Donna Gillis, Collections Manager
Born in Lawrence, Mass., Donna worked for Modicon in Andover (Mass.) for 22 years, starting in 1973. She was supervisor of the data entry department of this business, which made Programmable Controllers, for a number of those years. Before leaving the company, Donna wrote a comprehensive training manual eventually used by all manufacturing personnel on how to correctly and efficiently flow material through the factory. She also worked for Modicon as an Inventory Control Analyst, performing an inventory of all parts and products once a year. As BHS Collections Manager, she has been able to apply many of these valuable, past work experiences to her weekly tasks at the Society. Her hobbies include skiing, mountain biking, and hiking. She also is an avid quilter, having created a large number of “personal memory quilts” from clothing of those who have passed on. In 1988, she and her husband, John, discovered Sunday River Ski Resort and bought a condo in Bethel. Soon thereafter, they were approached by a friend who asked if they would be interested in investing in Pat’s Pizza. Without hesitation, they quit their jobs and moved to Bethel. They still own and operate this business today.
Stanley R. Howe, Executive Director Emeritus
The Bethel Historical Society’s Curator / Executive Director from 1974 to 2010, and Associate Director / Director of Education & Research from 2010 through 2012, Stanley Howe holds an M.A. in American history from the University of Connecticut and a Ph.D. in Canadian history from the University of Maine. Under his leadership, the Bethel Historical Society has evolved from an organization focused mainly on the history of the Town of Bethel to one that collects, preserves and interprets the history of western Maine and the White Mountain region of Maine and New Hampshire. In addition, the Society’s endowment, which generates a third of the organization’s operating income, was also greatly increased during his tenure. During his many years with the Society, Dr. Howe has been honored on numerous occasions with various citations, including the Bethel Area Chamber of Commerce’s Henry H. Hastings Award for Citizenship and a Gould Academy Alumnus of the Year Award. The Bethel Rotary Club has also recognized him as a Paul Harris Fellow. Retiring from the regular staff at the end of 2012, Howe continues to volunteer at the Society in numerous and important capacities while completing a biography of Bethel’s greatest philanthropist, William Bingham II (1879-1955).