Occupation: I’m a geneticist by training. I’m retired from WestConn, but still teaching local flora there. Formerly, for 32 years, I taught genetics and plant physiology there.
Family: I have three daughters, Karyl Evans, Diane Norbutus, and Tracy Johnson — all grown up now, of course. I have six grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.
How long have you lived in Newtown? We moved here in 1970 and have lived in the same house since.
What do you like to do in your free time? Gardening! I’m an outdoor person. I love to walk and I enjoy reading, too.
Do you have a favorite book? I tend to read to keep up on the news or read for a purpose. One book I’ve always loved, though, is My Antonia, by Willa Cather. My father-in-law’s family homesteaded in Nebraska, and he started out his life living there in a sod house. He was the same age as Willa Cather. I find it so interesting that Antonia, who was a real person, was a woman on the plains, running a farm of 1,000 acres, in that age. I felt like I was learning about family history with that book.
Do you have a favorite travel destination? If I had to pick one place, I’d say Hawaii, the Big Island. I have given each of my grandchildren, if they wanted, a trip. I went to Austria and Italy with two of my granddaughters. I went to Russia, last year, with a grandson; and I’ve been to Hawaii with another grandson, my favorite place. There are observatories on top of the mountains. You can go from an altitude where you need supplemental oxygen to sea level on that island. There are no skyscrapers, and it’s very low key and nature oriented.
What is the best thing about Newtown? The schools. That was a very important reason we moved here. There is also the natural beauty and Main Street. The town is so beautiful.
What is the biggest change you’ve seen in Newtown? Sandy Hook. Our town has gotten closer since 12/14. We’ve been through this terrible thing together and we have pulled together. People have stepped up and done amazing things. The way our clergy has come together, all religions, is incredible.
What has been the greatest influence in your life? I grew up in Orono, Maine, a college town. We were surrounded by academics. Having educational expectations set so high was a big influence on me.
Do you have a personal philosophy? I’m a “Make the world a better place” sort of person, so I’m always looking for ways to do that.
Do you have a guilty pleasure? College sports on television, especially the UConn women’s basketball team.