Meet Our Members

Some of us are retired, and others are working, either full time or part time. We have held a wide variety of jobs and have far ranging interests and avocations.

We continue to pursue diverse environmental and civic volunteer activities


 John’s avocation is fixing things, whether it’s his old house (which involves creating replacement pieces to match old parts), or his old parish church which requires a variety of repairs to keep it running. His professional life was as a military research psychologist where he designed training evaluations and conducted field research projects in areas such as individual skill development, teamwork training, and medical simulation. In semi-retirement, he had temporary jobs:  house staff at a circus, technology assessments for a donut franchise company, and a shopper for a Fortune 500 company. 


A lifelong lover of firefighting lore, he has an extensive collection of firefighting- related books and toy fire engines (some dating from his childhood). 


He and his wife Ellen have two sons, one living locally and the other in Baltimore, MD. He is looking forward to living at Hager Homestead among new friends and in a new home that does not require building new parts.

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Ellen lives in Medford with her husband, John.  She has been a professional costume maker for 30 + years, first at American Repertory Theater at Harvard, and for the last 28 years working from  home.  She also enjoys knitting, and sewing for herself.   She and her husband are part of the buildings and gardens crew at their church, which calls on her creative problem-solving skills, and has given her some experience with biggish gardens and their maintenance.  She also enjoys singing in the church choir.

In the process of raising their two sons, now 28 and 25, Ellen became an active leader in a local Boy Scout Troop and 16 years later is still working with scouts, teaching merit badges and camping.  She loves watching the boys gain skills and grow into leaders, and enjoys all the places she gets to go with them. 


Ellen has long enjoyed baking, and has more recently become fond of cooking international dishes for dinner.  She is looking forward to having a larger group to cook for when we move to Littleton. 


Judy enjoys cooking, knitting, gardening, and singing and playing music with and for others.  During the pandemic she has had to let her music rest for now, but she’s eager to take it up again.  In the time being she is perfecting her sourdough.   (Pizza, anyone?)

Massachusetts-born and bred, Judy spent her college years in the mid-west and then moved to the Boston area.  She is widowed and has one son.

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Mayhew and Victoria

Victoria and Mayhew are the cofounders of Hager Homestead. Victoria grew up in rural Indiana, got a degree in English literature from Indiana University, and went to graduate school at the Goodman School of Drama at the Art Institute of Chicago in acting and directing. She had a career as an actor before moving to the Netherlands in the 1980s to marry a Dutch scientist. She worked for many years there as a writing instructor and freelance scientific editor at biological research institutes and developed a passion for gardening. After divorcing and moving to Boston, she worked as a grant writer and marketing writer/editor in academia. Her passions are singing traditional music—she met Mayhew singing and dancing in the Cambridge Christmas Revels—also craft cooking, gardening, and shabby chic interior design.

Mayhew earns his living as an electrical engineering consultant but his real passions are singing, bicycling, kayaking, motorcycling, gardening, cooking (and eating!) and working on just about anything mechanical.  He is a complete Anglophile.  He is married to the lovely Victoria, who he met performing with the Christmas Revels.  They live in Belmont, Massachusetts.  Mayhew has two children who live in Attleboro, MA and San Mateo, CA, and grandson who is one and a half years old.


Valerie enjoys warm weather outdoor activities such as kayaking, swimming, gardening, watercolor painting and more.  For about 10 years now, she has been rug hooking and hopes to attend TIGHR (The International Guild of Handhooking Rugmakers) meeting in Newfoundland in 2021. 


She also hopes to travel, hopefully with other Hager Household friends, to distant lands.



Karen is passionate about her work with young children as a Montessori preschool teacher for almost 40 years.  20 years ago she founded her own home-based preschool program for ten children which continues to thrive.  She lectured in a Montessori teacher-education course for nearly two decades.  She has been involved in Marketing and the Care and Consultation Circle for Hager Homestead.


She and her husband Gary are delighted to have found each other in 2012 and currently live in Arlington, MA.  Between them, they have three grown children.  Karen loves animals of all kinds but Gary is allergic.


Karen has too many interests and not enough time!  She is an avid student of self-development, and her experience leading Authentic Relating Games (which foster clearer communication/more successful relationships) and co-facilitating weekend personal growth retreats has been fun and gratifying.  She also has a passion for movies- old and new, has performed with community theaters, improv groups, and choruses, and has taught improv theater classes.  She can’t wait to learn new skills and hobbies from her future neighbors!


Gary works in the construction industry, doing remote truss design for private homes and commercial buildings. He met Karen eight years ago and they married in 2018. Two of their three grown children live in Southern California, one in D.C.

Gary is a connoisseur of stand-up comedy, listens to a variety of podcasts, and loves his Harley. He likes building and fixing things.  He values personal growth and meeting new people. He and Karen both enjoy traveling and went on a trip around the world (Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, and Istanbul) last year. This summer they rekindled a love of kayaking and tried SUP (stand-up paddling). Gary enjoys taking his turn hosting our Hager Homestead Friday evening Happy Hours, helping anyone who needs help, and is often heard to say, “to make a short story long . . . “.

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Barbara M. 

Barbara was born in New Jersey and escaped to the Midwest for college. Starting as a Fine Arts major, she changed to Biology, graduated, dabbled with the West Coast life in Berkeley, CA before settling in Boston along with a group of college friends, working in the medical research labs at Harvard. Marriage followed, along with three children, then divorce. She self-trained as a bookkeeper – she had kept books for her kids’ preschool -- and became an accountant. Because she always wanted to travel more, she retired before she was 65, and a few days later left for Colombia. Her passions are travel (53 countries and anxiously waiting to add more), gardening, cooking and hiking. She’s a member of the Appalachian Mountain Club and often combines travel and hiking. She happiest in the garden pulling weeds; a meditative experience. She also wants to revive her interest in fine arts training and learn watercolor painting. And, of course, to continue taking artful photos, especially on travels far and wide. 


Barbara thinks of her life and interests in phases or buckets. East Coast, Midwest, West Coast, East Coast. Or artist, hiker, gardener, traveler.

She looks forward to the next phase at Hager Homestead, developing cooking and gardening skills with her new neighbors.


Priscilla is a lifelong gardener who runs her own fine gardening service with an organic emphasis.  Previous careers include institutional advancement for nonprofit arts organizations and high end retail sales.  A widow, she lives in the exurbs of Boston with her Bengal cat, Mister Stripey, and enjoys reading, contra dancing, travel and the great outdoors.

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Brenda lives with her husband of 38 years and two dogs, April and Jackson in a small town northwest of Boston where their two children were born and raised. She has been a practicing psychotherapist in private practice here for 40 years, where she has enjoyed working with children and families during the early part of her career. She now enjoys working with twenty-somethings and older adults. 

She has been an on and off meditator in the Buddhist Vipassana tradition since in her late 20's. And now maintains a daily practice through her studies with a small sacred school for spiritual awakening whose home base is located in Southern India.  


She enjoys flower gardening, i.e digging in the dirt, caring for her home, but most importantly spending time with her children and friends.


Tom enjoys growing tomatoes & herbs in the summer vegetable garden, caring for his home in Acton, cross country skiing in fresh winter snow, bridge, reading, kayaking, Cape Cod,  cooking year round and walking his rescue hound Jack. He is married to Brenda. They have 2 adult children. 

He maintains a  private psychotherapy practice.

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Barbara S.

Barbara Smith is retired after a life of varied work: journalism for a long time, but most recently as an aide in a special ed. resource room, which she found very gratifying. Also: She has two children, who are even more gratifying. She served on her town’s local conservation commission and, before that, worked in the media for many years. She plays Candy Crush on her phone but just discovered WordScapes, and is quickly becoming addicted to Spelling Bee on the NY Times. 


She has five bird feeders, one of which is dedicated to bluebirds, and a cat, who watches the birds


Mike trained as an immunologist in the UK before moving to the US and spending his career working with biotechnology companies, both in diagnostics (genetic testing and Alzheimer’s disease) and drug development (cancer and muscular dystrophy).  He now mentors new biotech CEOs but is mostly involved volunteering at Mass Audubon’s Drumlin Farm as well as advocating for conservation and sustainability through Green Acton, an advocacy group in Acton, MA 


He is a birder and uses that as an excuse to travel both in the US and abroad while also on a quest to see all of Shakespeare’s plays on the stage.

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Sheila is now retired from a career in various aspects of clinical trial data management.  A native of the south of England, she previously worked as a small animal veterinarian both in the UK and the USA. She feeds her lifelong passion for nature and gardening by maintaining her own yard, volunteering with the crops team at Drumlin Farm, and at the Acton Arboretum. 


Quieter moments are spent watching birds (often with husband Mike), reading and knitting.