'Old Stories;' Pinehurst's Founding Tufts Family Gathers for Reunion
Sara “Sally” Tufts Blinn gently flipped through the weathered leather photo album of sepia-toned photos until she abruptly stopped at a photo of a young girl holding a stuffed teddy bear.
“I have that teddy bear,” she said, tapping her finger gently on the photo. “That must be my mom.”
Tufts Blinn is the daughter of Richard S. and Alice Bogart Vail Tufts. Richard S. was the grandson of James Walker Tufts, the founder of Pinehurst. She and 14 members of the Tufts family gathered Friday in Tufts Archives at Given Memorial Library in Pinehurst.
The reunion took place on the anniversary of the birth of Blinn’s father, Richard S. Tufts, who was instrumental in starting the Tufts Archives, which opened in 1975. Richard S. Tufts died in 1980.
Tufts Blinn, who celebrated her 80th birthday on March 13, said she was excited to see her extended family, many of whom she hasn’t seen in more than six years.
“This is just the best,” she said with a smile. “I don’t mind being 80 at all if we can get together and have this much fun.”
Blinn, a resident of Maine, called spending a day at the Pinehurst Resort Spa and touring her father’s former home, which is currently for sale, highlights of her stay.
On Friday, the family spent more than an hour at the Tufts Archives, which is dedicated to preserving the history of the Tufts family and Pinehurst.
The family looked at computer scans of old photo negatives recently discovered in a cigar box at the Archives. They also flipped through a book of old photos from the 1920s and 1930s. Updating a Tufts family tree was on the docket as well as taking family photos and reminiscing.
Pinehurst resident Rick Tufts, the great-great-grandson of James Walker Tufts, said he was excited to see so many members of the family all in one place.
“This is the creme de la creme for me,” he said. “We really don’t get together and have a fun social time like we have had this week. It was really a breath of fresh air to hear all those old stories.”
The reunion came about when Blinn decided she wanted to travel somewhere to celebrate her birthday and the birthday of her daughter Nancy Enloe. After some discussion, Blinn decided it would be a perfect choice to come to Pinehurst.
“I pulled out the calendar and started looking at days, but I realized I was looking at February, not March, and when I flipped the page I realized we’d be here on my father’s birthday.”
The family planned on staying at a local hotel, not at Pinehurst Resort, until Blinn’s daughter Mary Tomasiewicz posted about the family reunion on the Pinehurst Resort’s Facebook page.
“I saw (the post) coming to town in March for Tufts family reunion and I was like, Tufts as in James Walker Tufts,” said Tom Pashley, executive vice president of marketing for Pinehurst Resort. “That was definitely one of the neater things that has happened through our Facebook page.”
A few days after that conversation, Tomasiewicz spoke to Pashley on the phone.
“I was drawing a (Tufts) family tree on my notebook as she was telling me who was planning to come,” he said.
The family has stayed at the Carolina Hotel.
Thursday evening, the Tuftses gathered with Alex Shapiro, a descendant of Donald Ross, the designer of Pinehurst’s famed No. 2 golf course.
Friday was special for Audrey Moriarty, the director of Tufts Archives, which is located in a wing of the Given Memorial Library. She preserves history through the photographs, documents and artifacts from the Tufts family and the people who visited, worked and lived in Pinehurst.
“This is a pretty cool thing,” Moriarty said. “We never have had the Tufts family as a group before.”
Near the end of her stay at the Archives, as she shuffled through photographs, Blinn said she is eager to return to Pinehurst soon.
“This has been so much fun, I’ll have to come back again,” Blinn said. “It definitely won’t be six years again between visits.”
Contact Tom Embrey at tembrey@thepilot.
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