Over a healthy lunch at Jake’s Market Café in Quechee, Sharin Luti and I talked about the inevitability of the Quechee Times doing her profile. “I’m not that interesting, really!” Sharin says. “Are you kidding?” I reply. If you live in Quechee, you likely know her or have felt her impact in some way. She is, in fact, a very interesting person! Here is her story.
As Luti puts it, “I’ve never been one to just sit down. When I was a kid, I was always running things. We used to stage circuses and fairs – I was always the director.” Over her life, she honed the skills involved in running those hometown circuses—creative, technical and administrative—resulting in a successful professional career, active community involvement and commitment, many artistic pursuits and loving family and friends.
Let’s start with how she got to Quechee. Luti was raised along the New Jersey Shore and always thought that she would end up retiring near the ocean. She went to graduate school in Boston—where she met husband Paul—wondering why anyone would live that far north! They settled in Andover, MA (yes north of Boston!), brought up their two children and pursued careers.
In 1977, the Lutis decided that they wanted a vacation retreat. And Luti continued to migrate north to Quechee. “We had to be less than two hours from Andover and wanted a multi-season place. We stopped in Quechee when returning from a ski trip. We liked the village and the low-key atmosphere. We bought a lot, built a modest home (doing much of the work ourselves), and enthusiastically started coming up on weekends.”
Luti’s career in Information Technology
Meanwhile, back in Andover, Luti was pursuing a successful career in the Information Technology (IT) field. As she looks back on her professional success, she reflects on the influences and “guardian angels” that helped to direct her, and specifically helped her to see that being female in a primarily male field could be an advantage. As she looked to going to college, her father suggested that, “I major in math because it was not a female field. He said, ‘You will be different.’” Although she thought she would minor in art, her “amazing” college mentor pointed out that she would really stand out in a male field if she minored in physics—and that is what she did, math and physics. She put herself through college at Fairleigh-Dickinson in New Jersey. Her mentor maintained his confidence in her and told her that she “must go to graduate school.” She went to Boston College with a teaching fellowship in math.
There were certainly challenges. Early on she was assigned to lead a technical project for a man who felt that a woman did not possess the skills required for the task. Unaware of his feelings (beyond the fact that he was tough), Luti led her team to a successful conclusion. Later that man confided that his opinion of women in the technical work force had changed, in a positive way, as a result of this success. “People who quietly get the job done and demonstrate competence do make a difference,” she says.
Luti says that, “All along the way, someone helped. You run your life and you don’t really think about things. Now I think about these wonderful people who helped me learn how to be strong.” In her 27 years at Dynamics Resource Corp. (DRC) in Massachusetts, she was the first female department manager and the first female vice president. She mentored many men and women, and sees herself as a trailblazer for women in the work force.
And now Quechee and the Upper Valley are reaping the rewards of Luti’s experience and competence. There was a brief period when the Luti family didn’t get to Quechee much, and they put the house up for sale because they used it so rarely. Fortunately, it didn’t sell. Once their kids were grown, they abandoned the idea of retiring in Boston (or more south) and moved permanently to Quechee. They have been full-time residents here since 2001.
The two “kids”—Brian and Stacy—are grown and the Luti’s now have three grandchildren, Taylor Marie (10), Rowan (9) and Henry (6). Stacy, a baker at the Woodstock Farmer’s Market, and Taylor Marie live in Quechee. Brian is a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army (with two Iraq and two Afghanistan tours) stationed in Hawaii. When Luti asked him why he wanted to apply for a ROTC Scholarship when he was at the University of Vermont, Brian said, “Because you always told us you have to give back and this is my way.” Luti explains, “And this is a kid who wasn’t allowed to play with guns when he was little.”
Focus on Community
Luti has always been involved in her community and found volunteer opportunities in Quechee when she was close to retirement and had more time. She was a QLLA Trustee from 2004 – 2010 and has served on a number of Quechee Lakes Landowners Association (QLLA) committees. She also volunteered at the Quechee Library.
She has co-chaired the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock (CHaD) Classic/Gala fundraiser with Gail Ferney since 2003. These events have contributed over two million dollars to CHaD over the past 30 years. Overseen by QLLA Charities, Inc. (of which Luti is the secretary), she describes the events as a “tribute to the generosity and caring nature of the Quechee community. There are so many people who contribute their time, money and passion for a good cause.” She has served on the CHaD Board in the past and is now a CHaD “community leader.” Her Upper Valley service also includes active volunteer support of Women’s Information Services (WISE), Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, DISMAS House and The Quechee Elves.
An Artist at Heart
And then there is the artistic and creative side of Luti. She tells me that “creativity runs in the family. “My mother made most of our clothes, did beautiful embroidery and taught me to sew.” When in college, Luti especially enjoyed her elective art classes—even more than those exciting math and physics ones! She is now an accomplished quilter (perhaps you have seen her work at the Billings Farm Quilt Show where she has won awards). She has branched out into making jewelry and a line of stylish jackets of specially imported rayon batik. She and several other women have formed the Crafty Ladies of the Upper Valley (CLUV). CLUV organizes and also shows their wares at the annual Quechee Artisan Fair.
So what is Luti doing in Quechee now? She is “enjoying all it has to offer with my family and friends. She enjoys many of the amenities, but says that, “At the top of my list are the people. The people here are involved, energetic, engaging and diverse. They are also very caring and generous. And it is such a beautiful place. When viewing the richness of color that blankets our hillsides in the fall, Brian who was three at the time remarked, ‘God is a really good painter.’ How true.”