Carmel’s English rose

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A look into the life of Doreen Squire Ficara

By Dawn Pearson

It would take an entire edition of the Current, and maybe more, to list Doreen Squire Ficara’s activities and what she has done for Carmel since she moved here in July 1983.

But if one were to write the “Cliff’s Notes” version of Ficara, this would be the summary: She’s 87 years young, a mother of five, a grandmother of 14, a sister, a wife, an aunt and a philanthropic leader. Her life has spanned from 1930s war-torn England to present day Carmel.

Ficara’s support of the arts has helped put Carmel on the map according to many on the Carmel Arts Council, and has recently retired from her position as the Executive Director of the Council.

Not knowing what would occupy her time or how her days would be Ficara has settled into retirement and has begun enjoying her time that is no longer filled with Council meetings, going to the office, writing books that support the Arts in Carmel, receiving awards for her volunteerism, or getting Carmel it’s official Guinness World Record.

“I actually can direct my life, and get up when I want, and do what I want to, but I’m going to be working again,” Ficara said. “I’ll definitely find myself working again.”

She certainly has the ideas, drive and desire to keep on working, so she can begin a new chapter in her life. And there have been many, many chapters is the proper Englishwoman’s interesting life.

“Maybe I’ll start teaching executive etiquette at the dining table,” she said. “But for today I have brass to polish.”

She has many interests to occupy her time. Big, vibrant, colorful flowers and plants surround her home and are impeccably groomed. And her new home office is filled with many writing projects. She has many interests to occupy her time. Big, vibrant, colorful flowers and plants surround her home and are impeccably groomed. And her new home office is filled with many writing projects. Traveling to England every few years will be a big part of her life as it has been throughout the years where she antiques in the villages and small towns and visits other countries with her childhood and school friend Barbara Shields.

“I will also vising my sister Myrtle and brother-in-law, Gordon in Wales and her brother Ronald in Churchdown, England,” she said. “I have a lot of grandchildren (10) and great-grandchildren (14) that I want to spend time with too.”

Her life could be a novel.

Born Oct. 24, 1927 in Devonshire, England, she grew up a place that she has found memories of, and still often visits, and stays in touch with her childhood friends. She is a survivor of World War II.

“On the night of May 2, 1942, my school, Exeter, Devon was bombed by the Germans,” she said. “We all survived but had to flea and became refugees for the time being.”

Her volunteerism and strong work ethnic began during the war. She landed a job with Lloyds Bank and volunteered on the weekends for the American Red Cross and met her husband.

“I met my husband at the Donut Dugout, where the American Red Cross was set-up to help during the war,” she said. “After the war I flew to America on January 8, 1948 where my fiancé met me and took me to his home in New Jersey. It was a culture shock for me.”

She worked and raised her children mostly alone since her husband traveled a lot and wasn’t home very often. For 20 years of her life she lived in Woodbury, N.J., working for many companies.

In 1970 the Ficara family moved to Indianapolis, serendipitously to a neighborhood named Devonshire, like her beloved homeland. She continued raising her children before moving the Carmel in 1993.

“It was here that I got divorced, finally, and very happy, that I began volunteering again,” she said.

And according to her biography in a book she authored about the Carmel Arts Council’s 20th Anniversary, she quickly immersed herself in volunteering wherever the need arose and in July of 1994 she became executive director of the Carmel Arts Council.

In Sept. 1999, she earned a Guinness World Record for the world’s smallest children’s art gallery, which she said is her favorite project completed as the executive director of the Carmel Arts Council. The record certifies: “The Carmel Arts Council’s Children’s Art Gallery in in Carmel, Indiana, USA is the smallest children’s art gallery in in the world, measuring 15 feet and 4 inches long by 9 feet 5 inches wide with over 50 pieces of art lining the walls of the one room gallery.”

Last year was the Council’s 20th anniversary and the community praised Ficara for her dedication to the arts and the Council’s mission which is; “It is the mission of the Carmel Arts Council to encourage and promote the arts for all ages through leadership, financial and volunteer support in order to nourish a vibrant culture in the Carmel community.”

The former Ted Johnson realized the need for the arts and through his dream formed the Carmel Arts Council in 1993. His wife wrote in the history this about Doreen “Ted recognized there needed to be more cultural activity in Carmel. He would be amazed at the growth the Council. My hat is off to Doreen and her tireless effort to make it the success it is. If ted were still with us, he would be Doreen’s number on supporter.”

And Mr. and Mrs. Leo J. Dierchman wrote at the end of her biography in the 20th Anniversary’s book “In honor of Doreen Squire Ficara for her tireless commitment to the arts for the benefit of the citizens of Carmel, Indiana.”

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