Our Dad Was Diagnosed at Age 39

Thanks to four-time Long Trail end-to-ender John Page for sharing his family's experience with Parkinson's Disease beginning in the early 1960s.

Guy Page was born in Burlington in 1925 and graduated from Burlington High School and the University of Vermont where he was a champion debater. He attended Yale Law School then returned to Burlington where he married our mother, Janet Clark, also a Burlington native. As Dad built his law practice, he and Mom quickly had five children and built a nice home on Lake Champlain where we all grew up and joined our parents as active sailors, skiers, hikers, and campers. (Dad was the main skiing/sailing parent, while Mom was the main hiking/camping parent.)

[Guy Page and Janet Clark at far right, on the Long Trail in front of Taylor Lodge.]

In 1964, at the age of just 39, Dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and all our lives changed. He lived another 30 years but quickly lost his ability to speak and thus his ability to practice law. Mom had never really worked (except as a mother of five!) and got a job at UVM so they would have health insurance and eventually free tuition for the five of us.

Somehow, they managed to keep the house in Malletts Bay, but there was no money for college to say nothing of skiing or other luxuries. For many years Dad maintained his dignity and good spirits while staying remarkably active physically, although the last decade of his life was very tough for both our parents. Dad died in 1995.

[Guy appears second from left while skiing with his posse at the Underhill Ski Bowl, near the Stevensville trailhead, in 1939 or 1940.]

All five of us continue to hike at least casually into our sixties. Most of us are still active skiers and a few remain active sailors.

On September 19, four of the five children of Guy and Janet Page remembered them and their lives together with Parkinson’s Disease by climbing Laraway Mountain on the Long Trail in support of Peaks For Parkinson's.

The above photo is taken at Laraway Lookout. Left to right are: Joel, Sarah, Guy III, and me. Brother Dan lives in Newton, Massachusetts and was unable to join us due to COVID travel restrictions.

We chose Laraway because the trailhead at Codding Hollow is just a few miles from the Page ancestral farm in Waterville where Dad spent his childhood summers. This was a hike that Dad did more than a few times, including with us as children.

[Laraway Cliffs on the Long Trail. Photo taken by Zuni Bear on Peaks For Parkinson’s hike, 10 days after John’s family hiked this stretch.]

Thanks to John and his family for getting outside this September and supporting Peaks For Parkinson’s! I hope they had a wonderful reunion at this place that was so special to their father.