penfield class of 1960

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Linda Berry
Portland, OR


I went off from Penfield to Middlebury College in Vermont. I loved being in the mountains, but the school was very conservative and I had a hard time fitting in. I ended up studying literature because I liked the insight into people that we gained by trying to understand the writer’s point of view. In my sophomore year I traveled to Yellowstone Park to work for the summer and fell in love with the area and the West. Since studying literature hadn’t prepared me to do much in the business world, I applied to Columbia’s School of Architecture and planned to go there next, but I never figured out how to finance it. Instead I ended up getting married to Jim, who I was dating at Yale, and I postponed going to grad school.

We moved to New York and I became a computer programmer. I wasn’t sure what that was, but the pay was much better than being a secretary, my other option. Our first child died at birth in 1970. What an eye-opener! We left NYC after that and moved to the coast of Maine to be able to spend more time in the mountains and at the beach, as being in the natural world helped us cope with our loss. We were fortunate that my daughter Sally was born a year later with no complications. She is now married to a delightful man and working as a master mechanic for BMW, no grandchildren yet, but I’m still hoping.

After staying home for three years with Sally, I started teaching skiing at Sugarloaf USA, where Sally could stay in the day care center at the lodge while I worked. Jim and I divorced at that point. I became friends with Michael, my second husband, who was also teaching skiing at Sugarloaf and pro-racing around New England. In the summers we went to South America to work (their winters) in the Andes of Chile and Argentina. When Sally started school, our traveling interfered with her school year, so we took a trip west looking for a small ski area with a long season, where we could work year round.

We ended up moving to Mt. Bachelor, in Bend, Oregon, which was then a beautiful small high-desert town in the Cascade Mountains. I taught skiing for another five years and worked as a canoe guide on day trips in the summer, with spring and fall at home for Sally. I loved teaching skiing. I had started because of the skiing, but found another unexpected benefit: I spent every day for ten years out doors and found a profound connection with the natural world.

Both Bend and the ski area grew hugely and Michael and I eventually quit working for the mountain and started an electronics company, Time Tech, to make computerized ski race timers. My experience as a computer programmer made me think I could design a computer, and after some struggle, I did. If you have ever raced Nastar, or in the New York Marathon or the Ironman, your time was recorded by one of our race timers.

After trying unsuccessfully to have more children, we tried to adopt a 12-year-old boy, but as much as we loved him, it wasn’t enough to keep him out of jail continually, and he eventually got tough enough and old enough that the state returned him to his natural mother. Those years were exhausting, and it tore me and Michael apart and we divorced.

I moved to Bellingham, Washington, for a few years to get a fresh start. On a trip to Alaska, all that wilderness gave me a fresh view of life, and I decided that it was now or never if I was going to go to architecture school. At 54 I set off to University of Oregon to get my masters. Walking in the school door the first day was really frightening, but within an hour, I was so involved that I knew I was in the right place. I loved school, especially one term spent in Kyoto, living in a Buddhist monastery.

After graduating I moved to Portland to be near Sally, and I am now a licensed architect here. I live downtown so I can walk nearly everywhere, including to work. My work has been varied and interesting. I worked on an office building in Dublin and lived there for three months during its construction, learned to drive on the wrong side of the road and drink Guinness (not at the same time). I now have a resort hotel in West Yellowstone that is nearing completion, giving me the opportunity to make trips to that beautiful part of the world and check that Old Faithful is still erupting on schedule. I am designing a library here in Oregon, which I am excited about because I still love to read and can remember the thrill of going to the library in Brighton as a child.

I like the collaborative process of working on large projects – teaming up with people to make something that an individual couldn’t do alone. It’s really exciting to see a building coming out of the ground in concrete form after being something imaginary for months before. It’s gratifying to turn an old building into something new and beautiful. And it’s a pleasure to see how buildings impact the lives of the people who use them

I have done some extreme sports in my youth – hang-gliding, wind-surfing, white water canoeing. I learned to take off and land a plane when I was 60. But now I am happy to be mellow in my free time- swim, ride my mountain bike, hike, kayak and cross-county ski.

My mom lives on Cape Cod, where she and my dad moved in 1973. I have not been back to Rochester since then, but go to the Cape annually. I look forward to a future class get-together wherever it is!



























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