Town bestows 93-year-old Phillipston resident Jean Marshall with Boston Post Cane 

  • Jean Marshall relaxing at home with her companion, Piga. CONTRIBUTED

  • Jean Marshall’s children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren attended the Boston Post Cane ceremony. CONTRIBUTED

  • Jean Marshall was presented the Boston Post Cane at Phillipston Selectmen’s meeting on Nov. 2. Linda Langevin who presented the cane from the Historical Society, Selectman Bernie Malouin, Jean holding the cane, Selectman Gerhard Fandreyer, and Emelda Haughton who told the cane’s history. CONTRIBUTED

For the Athol Daily News 
Published: 11/22/2022 5:10:25 PM
Modified: 11/22/2022 5:10:13 PM

Family, friends, and town officials gathered at the Phillipston Selectboard’s meeting earlier this month to honor Jean Marshall as the recipient of the Boston Post Cane, which honors the town’s oldest resident.

The tradition of the award started as a publicity promotion in 1909 when Edwin Grozier, the owner of the popular Boston Post newspaper, gave impressive ebony canes topped with gold knobs to 700 towns in New England for them to award to their town’s oldest resident. It started a noteworthy tradition that many towns continue today.

Marshall is 93. She has a positive attitude that keeps her young, lives in her home independently, drives her car, and does her own shopping and cooking.

“I like doing my own cooking. I want to keep doing it,” she said. “I know whatever I give up, I won’t get it back so I keep pushing.”

Marshall enjoys doing crossword puzzles, is an avid reader of books and the daily newspaper, and makes beautiful penny rugs.

“I’m never bored. In the summer I like to putter in the flower garden, I work awhile, then rest awhile,” she said. “The days pass by quickly.” 

Her current project is sorting a large collection of photos into four lots, one for each of her children, three daughters and one son.

She also keeps involved with community activities. When she and her husband George moved to Phillipston in 1956, they became involved in the Phillipston Congregational Church. George died in 2004 and Marshall continues to attend services regularly.

“Church has been a big part of my life,” she said. “I have a strong faith.” 

She served as a deacon for many years, president of the Ladies Benevolent Society, and worked on church suppers.

Family was always central in her life. She married George when she was 19, shortly after he returned from serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II.  “He was my one and only,” Marshall said happily.

They raised four children, which Marshall described as a blessing. She also said Phillipston was a good town for bringing up children. 

George served as Boy Scout leader and she as Girl Scout leader. The couple skied in the winter. In fact, Jean and George were on the National Ski Patrol. They enjoyed family camping trips, especially to Wells, Maine where George loved to fish and they all enjoyed the beach.

Marshall was an at-home mom until her children were in school. Then, she entered the work world, and it shows from the positions she chose that she is a care giving person. She took a class on substitute teaching and worked in area schools for six years. Next, she took a nursing class at Heywood Hospital and served as a nurse’s aid there for 11 years. Her last position was at the Fernald School where she taught special needs men to do personal care and household tasks. She took them shopping and to restaurants.

“I enjoyed them,” she said. “It was like working with children in men’s bodies.”

Through the years, Marshall served on several town committees, including the Library Association, the Board of Registrars, as chair of the Council of Aging, and senior lunches. In 1999, she and George received the Citizen of the Year award.

When asked what she attributes to her long life, Marshall said: “Keeping busy, keeping active, and enjoying life. I always exercised a lot, I joined group exercise classes and walked several miles a day. Now I walk up and down the driveway two times a day.” (It’s a long driveway.) She continued, “I’ve always been careful about weight control and eat healthy.” She never was a smoker.

Jean continues to be a busy lady. Her family takes her on outings. Last winter she spent time with her daughter Cheryl in Virginia. This fall she went on the foliage train ride in New Hampshire with Phillipston’s seniors. On another day she visited the gardens at Tower Hill with the Ladies Benevolent Society. She enjoys people and people enjoy her. 

Carole Gariepy lives in Phillipston.

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