WATERVILLE — Without a car, Nancy Parry, who lives in Farmingdale, doesn’t have a lot of opportunities to visit her brother Sherman Carey, who lives in Waterville, where the two grew up.

But when she heard some friends were going to Waterville Thursday for the annual Central Maine Family Christmas Dinner, she arranged to meet her brother there and caught a ride.

“I feel very blessed to have the opportunity to reconnect with Waterville and especially with my brother,” Parry, 66, said as she sat down to the free community dinner of turkey, squash, mashed potatoes and peas.

About 1,000 people were expected to attend the dinner, which is funded by local businesses and community groups and organized by a group of residents who have hosted the event for the last eight years with the hope of providing a place for people to gather on Christmas.

As the brother and sister finished their meal, surrounded by about 500 other area residents and more than 200 volunteers at the Waterville Elks Lodge on Industrial Street, Parry thought she saw another familiar face. Across the room Bill Bois and his wife, Lou, were making their way through the crowd of volunteers serving coffee and desserts and lines of people waiting for a seat, towards Parry and her brother.

Bois, of Fairfield, worked as a social worker in Waterville in the 1960s. He was employed at the Maine Children’s Home for Little Wanderers, and also worked as a consultant in the Waterville school district. He worked with many students, including Edward Carey, Nancy Parry and Sherman Carey’s brother.


In 1982, Edward Carey was fatally shot on a Waterville street by his wife’s ex-husband, said Parry.

It was just a few days before his 36th birthday and the same day as their parents’ wedding anniversary. Parry thinks of her brother often and still tears up when she talks about him, but said she rarely keeps in touch with or runs into people who knew him.

She said she recognized Bois right away as someone who had helped her brother through a difficult time as a teenager.

“It’s a Christmas blessing,” she said. “I haven’t seen him in over 30 years. I thought I recognized him, but of course I had to ask his name just to make sure.”

Bois, who remembers Edward Carey as a young man in need of mentorship, said he only worked with him for about a year but would occasionally run into him while he was still alive. “You never know what impact your having as a social worker, apparently it was a lot,” he said. Bois said he remembers Parry, but the last time he saw her she was a teenager and she’s changed a lot.

“I always like to hear feedback,” he said. “Sometimes it’s never and sometimes it’s years later that you find out what an impact you’ve had.”


Ziggy Lawrence, one of the founders and organizers of the Central Maine Family Christmas Dinner, said chance reunions like the one between Parry, her brother, and Bois are what makes all the work that goes into the dinner worth it.

“Every year, stuff like this happens. I don’t really know what to call it except a God sighting,” he said. “We see a lot of things like this that bring joy to people on Christmas. You kind of get hooked on it, and that’s why we keep doing it.”

While Bois and his wife waited for their meals, they chatted with Parry about their lives and where they live now.

“It’s as if my brother is sitting right here across from me,” Parry said.

She said that as a teenager, Edward Carey struggled with school, his social life and even family relationships, even though she said that for the most part their family was close.

“I think Mr. Bois was the person in my brother’s life who helped him get through a difficult phase. He was in need of a life preserver and mentor, and Mr. Bois was that person,” she said. “This is a once in a lifetime thing.”

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368


Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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