Letter from Fran Vock Schofield

Letter from Fran Vock Schofield – read during the dedication of the Edward D. Vock Conservation Area on June 12, 2010


I am writing on behalf of my mother, Louise Vock Schofield, father Arden Schofield, and myself to thank you for coming to this spot today to commemorate the memory of my grandfather, Edward D. Vock by the dedication of his beloved tree farm as conservation land. I regret that we are unable to attend this event as my parents are too ill to travel and I am called to the funeral of a friend who died earlier this week.

There is no better, more fitting use of the land that my grandfather so loved and cared for than as the use to which it is being dedicated today: as conservation and open space for this and future generation,  and in perpetuity. My grandfather—“Papa” as he was known to our family and friends—was a Thoreau-like character who led his life quietly and with determination and character.  He loved the trees, solitude, books and his music. When visiting RI, we would pull up in the driveway to hear Papa at the piano, the sounds of his voice singing, carrying through the trees. And when he came to visit us in the winter, my mother would recall that his suitcase would contain nothing but books!

My earliest, happiest, and most profound childhood memories are rooted in this land, and with Papa: walking barefoot along the dirt road (that he was careful to make sure remained dirt and not paved by the town), learning to swim in the pond, traipsing through the woods with a tin can slung around my neck in search of blueberries, having my own ax at age 5 and learning to chop wood, climbing trees, going on nature walks and learning about different leaves and trees, meeting up with the fearsome Guwampuwampus (as Papa had so dubbed a tree with a large growth on which he’d painted a face), sleeping out under the stars in the little cabin (an old table) that my grandfather had set up for me, learning to skate on the pond..and I could go on. Today, the scent of pine trees immediately transports me to these, the woods of my childhood.

Orphaned at a young age and raised in New York City, Edward D. Vock grew up to become a “pugnacious American,” a phrase he often employed and which describes him aptly. My mother used to recount that when she and her sister Irene were small children, he would place them on tree stumps so they could practice their oratorical skills. These lessons about caring for the environment and standing up for one’s beliefs carried into my mother and aunt’s lives, who were ardent advocates of various environmental causes. They continued in my own life as I went on to study landscape architecture and work in various environmental affair capacities as an adult. Even today, in my own community on Cape Cod, I find myself the chairperson of a 100-citizen neighborhood group that opposes the so-called “progress” proposed by town DPW officials who would widen, pave, and deforest scenic roads in my community. All that we have done and become can be directly linked to Papa and these woods.

On behalf of my mother, father, grandfather and myself, I would like to express heartfelt thanks to Paul Roselli for his unceasing labors to ensure that this land remains forever protected and open to the public. I met Paul only relatively recently as my mother’s health underwent a significant decline and Paul was immersed in what was, I fear, an often lonely and frustrating campaign to effect the sale of this property to the Burrillville Land Trust.  Paul, however, along with other individuals and conservation groups, persisted and was ultimately successful in ensuring that the land would remain undeveloped and enjoyed by generations of nature lovers to come.

 Edward D. Vock is somewhere looking down on this all and, I’m quite sure, would be proud to call Paul Roselli his friend. He would also want to thank you all who are here today and who find this land as sacred as did he.

Sincerely, Fran Schofield

Fran Schofield

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