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Super Senior: Marge Coulter

Published: Nov. 18, 2021 at 7:00 PM EST
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MANCHESTER, Vt. (WCAX) - “We hiked the mountains. Water was cold, but we didn’t mind,” said Marge Coulter, reminiscing at the contents of an old photo album. “More and more, I appreciate where I grew up.”

Coulter paints a picture of an idyllic life growing up in Arlington, the oldest of three and a self-described tomboy. It was a simpler time. “Takes me back, way back,” she said.

But on Coulter’s wall at Equinox Terrace, an Assisted Living Facility in Manchester, are iconic illustrations. “I’m glad we were in it,” she said

In 1943, she and her brother modelled for Norman Rockwell in his painting “Freedom From Fear.” The family lived next door to the famous artist.

Reporter Joe Carroll: What was Norman Rockwell like?

Marge Coulter: Very down to earth.

Coulter’s dad was Rockwell’s carpenter. The friendship ran deep. “I know Mr. Rockwell knew my parents couldn’t afford to go out to dinner, so he used to take them out to dinner,” Coulter said.

Rockwell lived in Arlington from 1939 to 1953 and painted many of the residents. He was looking for authenticity and he found it with Coulter and her brother.

The painting is a four-part collection. Marge’s parents even made it into the painting “Freedom of Worship.” “My mother is in the upper right-hand corner... and my father is in the lower right-hand corner,” she pointed out.

In “Freedom From Fear,” a mother tucks her daughter in bed while the father looks on lovingly, holding a newspaper with a headline about the horrors of war. The collection, like so many of Rockwell’s illustrations, was featured in the “Saturday Evening Post.”

Reporter Joe Carroll: Did you go around strutting your stuff?

Marge Coulter: Nope. We didn’t do that.

The parents in the painting were models, but while Rockwell worked, Coulter’s mother was close by reminding them to close their eyes.

“You can tell just by talking to her that she had a wonderful life and she appreciates what she’s had,” said Kathy Clary, the life enrichment director at Equinox Terrace.

After the painting, Marge married, raised a family, and became a school bus driver. An ordinary life with an extraordinary story to tell. Coulter is now in her late 80s.

Reporter Joe Carroll: What do you think of it now?

Marge Coulter: Well, I think right now, it was a real big privilege.

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