New Waitsfield Historical Society Members

Volunteerism was already down nationwide when the pandemic hit in 2020. This was difficult for many small nonprofit organizations and reviving them is no small task. The tenacity of president Lois DeHeer held the Waitsfield Historical Society together through those tough years. 2024 is the time to rebuild and expand the activities of the organization, according to historical society vice-president Fred Messer.





Thanks, in part, to the work of an outreach committee consisting of Alice Evans, Mary Kathleen Mehuron and Messer, all from Waitsfield, new members have come on board and a new board of directors has been formed. Remaining board members Lois DeHeer, Shirley Viens and Bob Burley have welcomed Mehuron, Alice Peal, Brigitte Ritchie, and Kitty Werner to the board.

Kitty Werner recently published Alice Evans’ book Our Suffering Brave through her Distinction Press, and Kevin Eurich’s Once Upon a Time in the Mad River Valley for Take Me Back Inc. “As a history buff, I decided it was high time I joined the Waitsfield Historical Society,” Werner said.  In 2012, she and Mary Gow wrote and published Draw logs from Dowsville, The History of the Ward Lumber Company and spent hours with Holly Ward wandering through forests looking at ancient mill sites. “The history of The Valley is fascinating, and more people need to know about it, and perhaps experience the joy of discovery, as Mary and I did,” she added.

Alice Peal arrived in Waitsfield 23 years ago. Her life journey was New Jersey to New York to Massachusetts to Vermont. Not a skier, her passion is for Icelandic Horses which she found here. After retiring from the technology world, Peal found time to participate in local government. She is on the town planning commission and also the State Climate Action Plan Rural Resilience subcommittee. As a new director of the Waitsfield Historical Society Peal hopes to help preserve the memory of Waitsfield as it was “back then.” “History lays the groundwork for strong, resilient communities. No place is a community until it has awareness of its history. Our connections and commitment to one another are strengthened when we share stories and experiences,” she said.

Brigitte Ritchie serves as corporate responsibility officer for KeyBank in Vermont, Maine and Florida.  In this role she is responsible for making Key Bank’s Community Reinvestment Act work by being an active member of the community. Ritchie served on the board of the Committee on Temporary Shelter for 10 years and has served on the boards of the YMCA, the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce and was honored in 2016 as the Tim Halverson Businessperson of the Year. She has lived with her family in Vermont for 35 years and in Waitsfield for 12 years. "Joining the board of the Waitsfield Historical society allows me to actively contribute to the preservation and promotion of my community's heritage. It offers me an opportunity to engage with like-minded individuals and participate in meaningful projects,” she said.

Known as Kathy, Mehuron is president of the Take Me Back Project whose mission is to raise awareness about and money for individuals and organizations that want to showcase the history of the Mad River Valley. She also sits on the board of the Rural Resource Commission and Waitsfield’s Wait House Commission, specifically helping to craft a long term vision for the historic structure. She has published three novels (the fourth comes out summer of 2025), two nonfiction books about local history and the Take Me Back Column in this paper. “Now that my boys are grown and I retired from teaching math, I had more time to notice things. It struck me that my husband’s family, the Mehurons have been in Vermont for two and a half centuries. I got really curious, about the rest of our most historic families as well,” she said.




Fred Messer serves on the Waitsfield Select Board and is the town’s emergency management director as now serves as vice president of the historical society board.

He said he was born with a strong love for history. “My grandmother Palmer and my great aunt Gaylord would beguile me with stories about life on my farm, which they spent part of their lives on. I became their depository of their stories of our family and of events happening in town (Waitsfield) from roughly 1880 through 1945. Also, as a boy, I grew up with a yoke of oxen. The old men in town, who they themselves used to log and farm with oxen, delighted in telling me stories and experiences of their younger years working their farm, of sugaring, and logging with animals,” he said.

The Waitsfield Historical Society was founded to collect and preserve the town's history in all its forms: artifacts, books and papers, pictures, and now, with the technology of the day, oral and video histories.

“I’m proud to have been elected vice president of our society and want to find interesting, fun, and innovative ways to share and present Waitsfield’s rich history to today’s boys and girls,” he added.