Former Athol Selectboard member, School Committee Chairman, Evelyn King, turns 100

  • —Greg Vine

  • Evelyn King contributed photo

  • —Greg Vine

  • Evelyn King and her husband William during World War II. contributed photo

  • Athol Daily News clippings show the government career of former Athol School Committee Chairman and former Athol Selectman, Evelyn King. File/ATHOL DAILY NEWS

  • The cake celebrating Evelyn King’s 100th birthday. Greg Vine

For the Athol Daily News
Published: 3/19/2019 9:00:09 PM
Modified: 3/19/2019 9:00:15 PM

ATHOL — Friends and family gathered at the American Legion Edward H. Phillips Post 102 banquet hall Sunday afternoon to celebrate the 100th birthday of Evelyn (Desrosier) King. Born in 1919, the year the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gave women the right to vote, King would go on to become the first woman to chair the Athol School Committee (1965-1966). The headline in the Athol Daily News declared “Mrs. King First Woman Ever Elected School Bd. Chairman.” Her elevation to chairman had come on a unanimous vote following a motion by Dr. Ray Fessenden at a school committee meeting. She served on the committee for six years, from 1961 to 1967.

Ten years after leaving the School Committee, King would – in 1977 – become the first woman elected to the Athol Board of Selectmen. The eight-column headline in the Athol Daily News proclaimed “Mrs. King Is First Woman Ever To Be Elected Selectman in Athol.” King defeated six opponents to win the seat on the board; Alan E. Rich, John F. Casella (a former selectman), Rizerio J. Deleo, Mrs. Anne F. Gatautis, Paul F. Bassett and Frank A. Cosentino. Roughly 2,100 of the town’s 5,722 registered voters turned out at the polls that election day.

King would serve a total of three terms and would, for a time, hold the post of chair.

King also served the town in the post of Zoning Agent. It is believed she was the only women to serve in such a capacity anywhere in the state during her tenure from 1966 to 1968.

King has two living siblings. Her brother Francis is 94, while her sister Rita is 87. Her brother Norman passed several years ago. Her husband William passed away in 1999.

Five of her six children were on hand for Sunday’s celebration: sons Roger, David, Michael, and Bruce, and daughter Sally Kamerbek. In addition, King has 10 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Mrs. King was unable to attend the celebration. Her family was presented with a proclamation from the Board of Selectmen proclaiming Sunday Evelyn King Day in Athol. It was presented by board member Lee Chauvette and Vice Chair William Caldwell. The family also received a congratulatory proclamation from the state House of Representatives, presented by state Rep. Susannah Whipps, and another from the State Senate, given to the family by state Sen. Anne Gobi.

Evelyn King’s secret to a long life: 1) faith; 2) stay active and social, and; 3) eat chocolate.

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