Cynthia (Hawkins) Petti, '65
(Reference: Published in The Lincoln County News (Maine), 16 August 2006)
GSB Says Good-Bye to Cindy Petti
by Sherwood Olin
The crowded gymnasium at the Great Salt Bay (GSB) School in Damariscotta Monday night provided a living testimony to the impact Cindy Petti left behind on her community.
The respected educator passed away August 7, 2006, after a battle with lung cancer.
Funeral services for Petti were held August 13 at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Newcastle. In her honor, a memorial service was held at the school the following evening.
Several scheduled speakers offered brief comments from the podium before the floor was opened to attendees. Nearly everyone who spoke discussed some aspect of Petti's renowned combination of toughness, compassion and humor as well as her dedication to education.
Bob Petti concluded the scheduled speakers with a brief, emotional address that brought tears to the eyes of many in attendance. Bob Petti told the assembled how fortunate he felt to have known his late wife and he thanked the community for all of their support through Cindy's final illness.
"Thank you for all the food, all the telephone calls, the visits, walking the dog, the things left on the doorsteps when I came home. I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart", he said.
"I am very proud of her", Petti concluded. "I am very proud of her. She had a hard time at the end but she was a tough lady with a big heart."
Petti's daughter Karen Hawkins recalled her mother as a devoted parent and educator. Students from all over the world have come forward in recent days to tell her of her mother's influence of their lives, Hawkins said.
She closed with a tender tribute to Bob Petti telling him: "I know that when she looked at you, Bob, she saw the face of love."
GSB principal Dick Marchi took the podium twice, the first to read the Biblical passage John 14:1-4, which includes the passage: "For in my father's house, there are many rooms: if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you."
Closing his reading Marchi ad libbed. "I can't help but think the room is purple and dogs would definitely be allowed."
Later in the program, taking the podium for a second time, Marchi's voice audibly wavered as he spoke personally of his former co-worker.
"What an amazing woman," he said. "My co-pilot, my mentor and my friend, Cindy refused to let any child fail. She would keep them in for recess. She would keep them after school, and in the end, they would come to love her for it. Her presence will be felt in this building forever."
Other scheduled speakers offering comments include Petti's predecessor at GSB, Dan Hupp, who compared Petti's dedication to her profession to that of Petti's athletic hero, Cal Ripken Jr. Like Ripken, who played in a consecutive game streak that lasted more than 16 years, Petti was a true professional who showed up and performed every day, Hupp said.
Tim Burch, Kim Schaff, Liz Norton all offered their comments on Petti's behalf. The evening closed with a montage of pictures of Petti, taken and arranged by Sue Buckland in a power point presentation.
The a cappella vocal group Full Circle, featuring GSB choral teacher Anne-Marie D'Amico performed two touching songs.
Rev. Steve White offered the opening invocation and the closing benediction.