When Lois Bennett and her husband Stan moved to Ashland in 2009, they both quickly became integral members of the community. Sadly, Stan passed away suddenly in 2013; Lois succumbed to cancer this year, on January 24. Two Ashland friends recall the impact Lois and her husband made in their short time in this community.
Florence Seidell: I first met Lois and Stan at one of the library’s documentary film showings about 10 years ago. Lois was wearing an attractive turban on her head, having just gone through chemotherapy for cancer detected just after her move to Ashland. Right away, Lois and Stan got involved in projects to make Ashland a better town. She wouldn’t let cancer stop her.
When Lois joined Ashland Community Gardens [in 2010], she found a perfect opportunity to teach the gardening families and the larger Ashland community about monarch butterflies and what people could do to save them. She planted and certified two monarch butterfly waystations in the Stone Park gardens. She held workshops for children on how to attract butterflies. She taught successive gardeners how to choose and maintain appropriate flowers. She put the cause of the monarchs and other vanishing and endangered species in the minds of residents.
In 2012 they helped find vendors for the fledgling Ashland Farmers Market [AFM]. I remember a call after dinner one night. It was Lois reporting on the quality of fish they bought for dinner from a potential fish and seafood vendor. Whatever they did, they did it thoroughly and thoughtfully. Stan went to great lengths to find us our first food trucks. It came naturally for Lois, a retired teacher, to organize the weekly Kid’s Corner. And we still use her blue-painted Kid’s Corner sign. When Stan died 5 years ago, many donations were given to AFM in his memory, which allowed us to purchase a shed at the AFM site. Lois maintained the flowers in the shed’s window box.
Lois embraced life fully, with joy, compassion, strength and resolve. Ashland was lucky to have her.
Gretchen Bravacos: Those who had the pleasure of knowing Lois know that she was a woman of many talents and a wide variety of interests. She was skilled at nourishing her friendships. As a result, she had a wide group of friends, many of whom probably joined me in calling her ‘my best friend.’
Although Lois’ time as president of the Ashland Garden Club was cut short by her illness, her impact will be felt for years to come. As a Master Gardener, Lois played a leadership role in the club. She recommended drought-tolerant native plants for the in-ground plantings at the downtown clock and post office. As club president, Lois was committed to helping design, plant and maintain planters and sites around town. She also believed that being a garden club member shouldn’t be all work so she initiated Wine in the Garden events in members’ gardens. One of her last major projects was planning the celebration of the club’s 25th anniversary celebration in September 2017.
Garden Club members will miss her expertise in all aspects of gardening. She was a gardening mentor for many of us, a valuable resource for all of us, and a true friend to everyone.
Lois’ family is requesting that donations in her memory be sent to the Ashland Garden Club, P.O. Box 43, Ashland, MA 01721, where a scholarship fund will be established in her name. Lois’ family will host a celebration of her life at her home, 22 Liberty Circle, on Saturday, April 13, 2 to 4 p.m. All who knew her are invited.