In Memory

Diane Nichols (Sharkey)

Thetford, Vt. — Dianne Elizabeth Sharkey died Tuesday, July 25, 2017, at Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital in Lebanon, N.H.

Born an only child in Los Angeles, Calif. on Jan. 6, 1938, Dianne Elizabeth Nichols grew up in South Central, Los Angeles amidst the sunny orange groves. She was a childhood survivor of polio, which required her to undergo back surgery and be in a body cast for over a year as a teenager. Undeterred, she was active in the Girl Scouts and enjoyed road trips and camping excursions throughout the West with her family. She attended Washington High School, where she excelled in her studies. Upon graduation, she enrolled at Pomona College in Claremont, Calif., majoring in English Literature and obtaining a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1959.

Dianne then trained to become a teacher, working in the Los Angeles area and obtaining her teacher credential by taking graduate courses through UCLA. In 1961 Dianne was hired by the Department of Defense’s Overseas Dependents School Systems. For eight years she was stationed in Paris, France and at Lakenheath Air Force Base in England, where she taught honors English to high school children of the military. It was during these years of living, teaching, and traveling that Dianne met Arthur Sharkey, who was also teaching for the Defense Department in Greece and England. Both returned stateside in 1969 for graduate studies; Dianne in English at UVM and Art in Media Studies at Pitt. They kept in contact and visited each other and then married in 1970. Building a family then became their focus. Living in Pittsburgh, Pa. they had a daughter Kate in 1971 and a son Adam in 1974. They moved to Haverhill, Mass. in 1975.

In 1978 a new adventure began for them. Dianne and Art moved to North Thetford, Vt. and became innkeepers of the Stone House Inn where they hosted interesting people from around the world for the next 22 years. The inn was located next to the Connecticut River, just 10 miles north of Hanover, N.H., home of Dartmouth College. They ran a small restaurant at the inn for the first three years, serving gourmet dinners five nights a week. Dianne was head baker, hostess and waiter. Dartmouth College’s proximity provided their inn with many guests, often the parents of the students. One of the oldest recreational and sporting facilities at Dartmouth is the Ledyard Canoe Club. Dianne and Art were able to use that canoe club for an idea they came up with and called, “Canoeing Inn to Inn.” It came about and within a year was featured in an article in the New York Times Sunday Travel Section. Their canoeing trip worked well for 15 years and enabled Dianne and Art to cut back on their restaurant offerings.

In 2000 Dianne retired from innkeeping, transitioning to relaxation, community service, and Boston Red Sox fan support. Dianne served on the Board of Trustees of Thetford Academy as well as Latham Memorial Library. Her many creative pursuits included sewing, quilting, and knitting, playing both piano and organ, solving crosswords and puzzles, and a lifelong love of reading.

She is survived by her husband, Art; her two children and their spouses: Kate (Steve), Adam (Jill); and her four grandchildren: Maura, Ryan, Justin and Ella.

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09/07/17 10:51 AM #1    

Head Honcho (1964)

I was a student in her Creative Writing Class in the spring of 1965, her final semester at PAHS. She was at PAHS for at least 2 years, possibly more. I was only a sophomore then, the only one in what was supposed to be a Jr-Sr elective. (I got in only because it was my first year at PAHS, I had a hole in my schedule, and this was the only class available the would fit.)

 I remember her as a good teacher who made us read a lot of interesting and well written stories and also made us write a lot of words. Mine were - as you might imagine - sophomoric, but she was tactful in her critic and suggestions. She’s one of the reasons I continued to enjoy creative writing so much and eventually made a career as a writer. However, the best day in class had nothing to do with a writing assignment.

 She had us all read “The Lottery,” by Shirley Jackson, which ends when the winner of the annual lottery is stoned to death. A wonderfully shocking tale for high school students! One of the other students came up with the idea of holding a lottery in the class. I was invited to join the Juniors and Seniors in the Senior Courtyard after lunch on the day of the event. We all armed ourselves with stones, went to class, and announced the lottery. Miss Nichols received the slip of paper with the black dot (of course), and we all rose from our seats, advanced on her desk, and piled our heap of stones all over her books and papers. There was even a cobblestone in the mix. She loved it.

 In 1979, I recognized Dianne at Town Meeting here in Thetford, where my wife and I had settled in 1973. She and her husband, Art Sharkey, had recently moved to town to run an inn. Art become an English teacher at our high school, but Dianne stayed home to raise the kids and run the inn. We both appreciated the reconnection and bumped into each other regularly since then. In the late 1980s, two other PAHS teachers, Jim Lee and Paul Francis, stayed at the inn for a couple of days, and Dianne made sure to invite me over for a visit.

Dean Whitlock

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