Wednesday, July 12, 2023, was a bright and sunny summer day, a rarity this year, making it a perfect day for the birthday celebration of Carmel Gallant, at one-hundred years young. As Carmel began greeting her guests, at one o’clock, she quietly remarked, “I can’t believe it! I’m just going to try to take it all in.”, and that is exactly what she did, as neighbours, family, members of MARTA, and retired teachers from not only the Miramichi area, but also those who travelled from from Bathurst, Moncton/Dieppe and Fredericton began streaming into her home on Water Street, in Loggieville, which overlooks the beautiful Miramichi River.
Always gracious and unassuming, Carmel greeted her guests with sincere warmth, relishing the time spent in conversation with each and every one of them. Among the gifts received was a beautiful floral arrangement from the MARTA branch, presented to her by Wellness Chair, Lois Gilliss and President, Charlotte Casey. Also presented to her by long time friend and former colleague, NBSRT President, Bob Fitzpatrick, was a plaque from NBSRT in honour and recognition of her marvelous birthday milestone of becoming a centenarian.
As the afternoon elapsed, there was an abundance of pleasant conversations, laughter and much joy felt by everyone, as they shared their well wishes, gifts and personal time spent chatting with Carmel. It was evident she truly did savour every moment of her gathering.
Among the guests one retired teacher, Hatti MacDonald, now eighty-eight, who shared a very special moment with Carmel, as she was a grade 5 student in Loggieville, when Carmel was a young teacher. Hatti brought her Grade 5 Honours Certificate with her, which had been signed and presented so many years ago. That was definitely a very unique and special addition to the day’s celebration. So too, was the fact that MARTA member, Anne Gallant mentioned to Carmel that they share the same birthdate. These moments enriched the day’s festivities for Carmel and provided her with unanticipated, spontaneous moments of enjoyment for her.
Aside from being known as a great, well-respected teacher, by students, parents and colleagues, legend has it that Carmel was also known to indulge the sweet tooth of staff members, with her frequent arrival at school with scrumptious, home baked treats, especially her sought after cookies, which, in particular, the men on staff coveted. That would be only one example of the innumerable acts of kindness bestowed on many people throughout her life, whether at school, in her community or with her family.
From the President of MARTA, Charlotte Casey, the Executive and the General Membership of MARTA, and that of NBSRT, congratulations and best wishes to you, Carmel! It was a well-deserved tribute to you, for a long life lived well in fine service and selfless generosity to many. We are all so pleased you had a wonderful day!