Berkshire Profile: Margaret J. WareBy Susan Bush
12:00AM / Sunday, December 10, 2006
Welcome to Berkshire Profile, an iberkshires weekly feature appearing on Sunday. Each week, iberkshires will highlight a Berkshires resident or entity making a contribution to the Berkshires way of life.
|Margaret J. Ware|
Williamstown - Margaret J. "Margie" Ware is someone who enjoys a hands-on approach, whether during her past three elected town selectwoman terms, her work as a SHINE services coordinator for Elder Services of the Berkshires, or her attempt to earn the Democratic nomination for a state Senate seat earlier this year.
On The Team
Ware didn't secure the nomination; that honor went to state Sen.-elect Benjamin Downing, but Ware was appointed last week to serve on Governor-elect Deval Patrick's transition team as a member of a local government-focused group.
"It's a very short term thing," Ware said, and noted that most of the sub-groups within the team will have completed their work by the time Patrick takes office in January. "But it is a great opportunity to meet people from other parts of the state."
Transition team group members will be able to hear from a variety of municipal officials including town selectmen, finance board and school committee members, as well as other community leaders.
"They'll be speaking about their concerns," she said. "What you are building is a network of citizens that can be the eyes and ears of a community. I am thrilled about this and it is an honor."
A 40-Year "Date"
Ware, 56, was born Margaret Johnson in Bethesda, Maryland. She moved with her family to the Cleveland, Ohio area when she was seven, she said. She graduated from the Shaker Heights High School in 1967.
"I was what they now call a 'nerd,'" Ware said."I was very academic and I didn't have many social skills. I did have a good memory."
Life as a student at the Mount Holyoke College, a women's college, allowed Ware to blossom. She graduated from the school in 1971 with an A.B. in political science. She subsequently earned a P.M.B.A. at the University of Massachusetts.
While at Mount Holyoke, she met her husband, attorney Robert Ware, at a college mixer.
"We met on Nov. 3, 1967, and we've been 'dating' ever since," Ware said. "When I was at Mount Holyoke, I was in a whole different part of the country, I was with people who didn't know me from high school, people who didn't know whether I was popular in high school. I became more focused on a social life."
The couple came to Williamstown in 1979. They live on Moorland Street and have two adult children, David and Betsy.
A Great Divide
Ware's interests are many but a prime focus includes elderly opportunities and economic and quality of life issues. Berkshire region elders may represent a genuine and sharp division between the economically stable and those who struggle to exist on fixed and often meager incomes.
And senior citizen lives are literally lived by the dollar, she said.
"Senior life in the Berkshires depends on a variety of factors," Ware said. "Some of the elders are incredibly physically fit, and enjoy things like skiing and hiking well into their 80s. Some are financially OK and can afford to live comfortably. The Berkshires is a great place to live if you are in good health."
But for those whose health is in decline and whose wallets are thin, the Berkshires can be a very challenging place.
"We live in an area that is hard for people who don't drive anymore to get to doctors appointments, or get around," she said."There are a lot of elders living on fixed incomes and they do not have many choices. When you put financial issues together with health issues, it can be a very, very difficult way to spend the remaining 20 years of your life."
There is increased regional attention being brought to improving and increasing assisted living opportunists for senior citizens at the middle-income range, Ware said, and added that she hopes the work continues and produces results.
Worth Every Penny
She and her husband know that living in the Berkshires may have limited certain career opportunities but believe the quality of life is well worth the trade, she said.
"I have always been glad that we made this decision," Ware said. "We came here to raise a family and I would submit to anyone that the Berkshires is a wonderful place to raise children. Both of us have college friends who attended college in Western Massachusetts and went on to other places, who say 'Oh, how we envy you.' They could have done the same thing, made some financial sacrifices. They still could. But people who've gone to urban areas have gotten so bogged down in the financial aspect of it."
The Berkshires offer the things money really can't buy, Ware said, and cited genuine friendships, a sense of community, and a feeling of belonging.
And there's more.
"When David was playing soccer, people from the urban areas were in awe that his father could go to his games," Ware said. "Big-city lawyers can't just leave the office at 3 p.m. to go watch their child. That is something we in the Berkshires get to do; we get to spend time with family."
Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or 413-663-3384 ext. 29.