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Penelope Bergamini

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SOUTH LONDONDERRY -- Penelope Baker “Penny” Bergamini of Middletown Road, South Londonderry, died early Friday morning in her sleep of a heart attack. She retired to Vermont in 1988 from Connecticut having grown up here in the 1940s. After spending her early childhood in her native town of Attleboro, Mass., where her father had a precious metals refining company, she had lived her adolescent years in South Londonderry. Following her graduation from the Burr & Burton Academy in nearby Manchester in 1945 where she was the “jokes” officer and a member of the Snow Valley ski patrol, she took a bachelor of arts degree in English in 1949 from Middlebury College.

While still at Middlebury she attended a Dartmouth College mixer, where she met David Bergamini, then an ambitious student who would graduate valedictorian and win a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University. He subsequently authored four books in the Time-Life nature series, two of which, “Mathematics” and “The Universe,” had long shelf lives. Mr. Bergamini died in September of 1983 at the age of 54, but not before he had written “Japan’s Imperial Conspiracy,” the definitive report on Emperor Hirohito’s involvement in planning for World War II and the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor.

During a 35-year residency in Norwalk, Conn., she raised four children, achieved her masters in education, taught English at the local high school and was a research analyst at the PR Data consulting firm in Wilton, Conn. She was also a member of the Rowayton, Conn., Civic Association Executive Board and active in the local Democratic Party. She canvased for Gene McCarthy in 1968. “Penny and David regularly held supportive and informative gatherings at their home during local and national election campaigns,” said Grace M. Lichtenstein, a longtime Democratic leader in Norwalk.

When Mrs. Bergamini returned to Vermont in 1988 to build a house on her family’s Londonderry property, she joined the Board of Trustees of the South Londonderry Free Library and at the time of her death was vice president after 15 years of service. “Penny was a wonderful volunteer for us,” said Librarian Mary Butera. “She invigorated our meetings with her vast reading background and travel experience, not to mention her ready appreciation of humor.” Mrs. Bergamini handled the circulation desk on Wednesday evenings and in emergencies and, as a talented needle worker, contributed many table cloths to fund raising events. She was also a skilled handywoman familiar with the use of many tools.

The daughter of the late Dean and Lucy McRae Baker was also a founder of the highly successful seasonal West River Farmer’s Market and a pivotal member of the annual Weston Crafts Show. Beyond that, she managed a productive vegetable garden on her acreage and was famous for her blackcurrant cassis.

Surviving are three sons, David H. Bergamini of South Londonderry, Alexander Bergamini of Poway, Calif., John Bergamini of Chico, Calif.; a daughter, Lucy Bergamini, a well known glass artist of West Pawlet, Vt.; a sister, Patience B. Spiers of South Londonderry and wife of Ronald Spiers, former U.S. Ambassador to the Bahamas, Turkey and Pakistan; one grandson and four granddaughters.

A memorial observance will be held at noon Saturday, Nov. 24, in the Londonderry Town Office off Route 100 in South Londonderry. A reception will follow at the home of the deceased.
Published in Bennington Banner on Nov. 22, 2007
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