BelchersBy  Isabel Pedersen

Writing about Marie and Tom Belcher is challenging, particularly because their responses to our questions were so gracefully written and so complete.  Insofar as possible, we will be using  their words.

Tom, born in Los Angeles, grew up moving often with the Navy assignments of the uncle and aunt who raised him. After four years in the Air Force during the Korean War, he enrolled at San Francisco State College, graduating in business administration with a concentration in insurance.  Later, he completed a five-year program leading to the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter designation.

From college, Tom joined Aetna Life and Casualty Company and spent 35 years in positions ranging from trainee to an “eight-year stint as Vice President of Aetna International,” traveling and, at times, living around the world.  He sat on the boards of companies in Chile, Spain and Australia.

Marie grew up in Buffalo as the middle child of a thoracic surgeon, from a large Brooklyn Lebanese family.  He and her mother, a nurse anesthetist, served near the front lines in Africa, Italy and France in WWII.

Marie’s study at the State University of New York in Buffalo ended in 1969 with a B.S. with Distinction in industrial relations and finance, plus an election to Beta Gamma Sigma.   “In 1969, there was still a bias against women in management in the corporate world” so she began her career at Aetna in the mailroom looking for files for unmatched mail.  “Someone recognized me being mismatched in my unmatched mail assignment and asked about my career goal.  I replied, ‘to be president of the company’.  Well, needless to say, that didn’t happen, but when I left Aetna in 1991, I was Vice President for Property-Casualty Underwriting.”  Marie, after Aetna, became senior vice-president of another insurance company and then went on to develop an executive search firm specializing in senior financial positions which she and Tom (retired from Aetna in 1996) enjoyed running until they closed it in 2001, fortuitously just before 9/11.  Volunteering and then working with a local author and philanthropist and running a private foundation filled the time until 2010, her final retirement.

“Some say you must kiss a few frogs before you find your prince, and my prince came into my life in 1989, when Tom and I moved from friend stage to romance.  We had known each other for 15 years in business, but the world for both of us had changed, and in 1990 we were married.  Tom arrived with two wonderful children, Andrew and Susan.  Andrew was still afraid of monsters, ran like the wind and baked cookies with me.  After living with us for a year, Susan went off to find herself.”  She found herself in Eugene, OR, where she still lives with her husband and son, running two small businesses.  Since Tom’s son is in the restaurant business in Portland, the Belchers settled into their own condo in Portland for the summer months.

Their local lives include St. Thomas More Church and, for fun, tennis, golf (badly, says Tom), fishing, bridge, wellness activities, travel and for Marie, add to these fibre arts and painting.  We just hope this busy pair will leave some time for Plymouth Harbor.  It will be fun to get to know them.