Showing her caring nature
Marguerite Bean took early retirement in 2000 with two things on her bucket list.
The first was an Alaskan cruise.
“I went and had a good time,” the 78-year-old said.
Her second plan was to go back to school. She’d wanted to be a nurse since childhood, but over the years the dream had been modified.
“I worked for the Bank of Butterfield for 31 years,” she said. “When I was working, I always said if I reached retirement age I’d do something with seniors.”
So, aged 59, she signed up for the Bermuda College’s two-year geriatric aid course, which taught her how to properly care for older people.
She was more than twice the age of many of her fellow students.
“On graduation day, the president of the college said I’d done better than many of the students much younger than myself,” she said.
She hoped that the course would school her on how to look after her ailing mother, Ivy Richardson.
“I didn’t just want her to have quality care, I wanted her to have the best care,” Mrs Bean said. “She begged me not to let anyone put her in a nursing home, and I kept that promise. I was there with her until her last breath.”
At Mrs Bean’s graduation in 2002, people were already offering her jobs.
“People would shake my hand and say, ‘We need you on our team’,” she said. “I never needed for work. They came to me.”
Over the years, she cared for 28 seniors, including the mothers of two premiers.
“I used to love doing that,” she said. “Then one day the telephone rang and someone asked me to take their mother to Lahey Hospital and Medical Centre.
“My daughter was sitting next to me and she said, ‘Mom, I think you need someone to take care of you’. I slapped her on the arm, but I knew she was right.”
In the last ten years she has had two back surgeries and now walks with a cane.
“I’d like to chuck it, but I really can’t,” she said.
She still manages to do a circuit of her estate in Devonshire at least twice a day.
“I like to stay active,” she said.
She had an idyllic childhood growing up in Crawl Hill, Hamilton Parish.
“My father, Hubley Richardson, had a lovely farm,” she said. “He grew vegetables and raised chickens and turkeys.
“You name it, we had it. He used to go out to check his fish pots and I’d be right there with him.”
With six children to care for, the Richardsons couldn’t afford to send them to high school.
“I really wanted to go to the Bermuda Institute,” Mrs Bean said. “School fees were £7 a month in those days.”
At 13, she decided to pay her own way.
“I’ve always been a determined person,” she said with a laugh.
“I went to work for Dr Peter Outerbridge’s mother, Alice. She used to work at the airport and would rent rooms to some of the guests that came in.
“She was a lovely lady and was determined that I would get my money for school.”
She cleaned homes for £5 a week.
“I can still remembering getting my first pay,” she said. “I thought I was rich. I saved that.”
At the end of the summer, she had enough to pay for two years at Bermuda Institute, but she wasn’t quite ready to enrol. Her sister Pat was two years behind her.
“I wanted her to have the chance to go to BI also,” she said.
She found another job helping Dr Outerbridge and his wife with their new baby.
“After a year, Pat and I started school together,” Mrs Bean said.
The sisters are still very close.
“We were just good sisters,” Mrs Bean said. “We used to fuss coming up, but don’t let anyone else fuss at us.
“When we grew up, she married a man in the Navy and travelled all over the world with him.
“She made wedding cakes and wedding dresses. You name it and she did it. She lives in Virginia and I go up and see her every year.”
Money was also a concern after high school, so her dreams of becoming a nurse were put on the back-burner.
She married and had four children, Lucy, Wendy, Joanne and Harry.
“The only one I was able to stay home with was my youngest, my son,” she said. “When he was 2, it was time to go back to work. I took some refresher courses in things like switchboard operation.”
One day she went to town looking for a job. She went to the post office, the Telephone Company and the Bank of Butterfield.
All of them seemed to produce promising leads, but the bank called before she’d even reached home.
“My sister said there was a message from Sydney Stallard,” she said.
“I said: ‘But I just left there?’”
She worked her way up from receptionist to the mortgage department.
“I enjoyed the work and I enjoyed dealing with people,” she said.
Over the years, she’s had a number of hobbies. As part of the Warrenaires she’d sing at various events; the group even performed overseas once.
“I’ve sung since I was a little child,” she said. “Now I just sing in the shower.”
She also loved bowling but has given that up “because I have a cane”.
Gardening remains a favourite pastime; she spends many hours at the back of her Devonshire property.
She and a group of girlfriends meet every Wednesday.
“We take a look at whatever event is going on in the community,” she said. “We’re together from first thing in the morning until evening.”
She reserves Friday evenings for her six grandchildren and one great-grandson.
“I just ask the Lord for me to be healthy and strong so I can see my grandchildren grow up,” she said.
•Lifestyle profiles the island’s senior citizens every Tuesday. Contact Jessie Moniz Hardy on 278-0150 or firstname.lastname@example.org with their full name, contact details and the reason you are suggesting them