HANSON — In just a few weeks, Barbara Meiggs of Hanson will be 101 years old.
Friends, family and members of the selectmen and congress were among those who attended a special pre-birthday event at the Meeting House Lane community room Tuesday. Selectman Bill Scott presented the Boston Post Cane to Meiggs.
Hanson state Rep. Josh Cutler, D-Duxbury, presented her with a citation from the General Court and representatives of state Sen. Mike Brady, D-Brockton, and U.S. Rep. Bill Keating, D-Mass, were present as well as Veterans’ Agent Bob Arsenault and Town Administrator Michael McCue.
The tradition so honoring the oldest resident in town has been recently reestablished at McCue’s suggestion. He had presided over such programs in Mansfield and Avon — where worked with North Easton Savings Bank, which had started a program to replace missing Boston Post canes as a public service.
Jim Alfieri who was the presenter on behalf of the North Easton Savings Bank spoke briefly on the now-reinstated historical tradition.
The cane program was founded by the defunct Boston Post newspaper in 1909 as a promotional project. Canes made of ebony with gold grip and tip, for 700 towns in New England, including Maine, Massachusetts New Hampshire and Rhode Island.
No cities were included in the program, according to the Maynard town website, but some present-day cities were still towns in 1909.
In replacing the Boston Post Canes, Alfieri said it was discovered that the 700 original canes that were given out exclusively to male residents. Eventually women were recognized as the longest-living citizens in the 1930s, and thus were allowed the awarded canes.
Meiggs formerly of Whitman, was born Oct. 27, 1915. She graduated from Whitman High School at age 18. She was married to husband Carlton for 67 years. They raised two sons Russell and Weston.
Director of Hanson Multipurpose Senior Center Mary Collins told Barbara that her life has been inspirational to others. The center threw a 100th birthday party for Meiggs last year.
“If you ever want to see the most sparkling set of blue eyes… look no further than Barbara,” Collins said. “I believe the list of adjectives that best describes Barbara is absolutely endless. Inspirational is the strongest word. … I have had the pleasure of knowing Barbara for eight years and in that time I have witnessed her inspiring others.”
Many years of volunteering among the list of qualities she assembled in a life well lived, she said.
Collins quoted an essay from Ralph Waldo Emerson that she felt described how Meiggs lived her life.
“‘The purpose in life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.’ I believe this is truly how Barbara has lived her life.” Collins said.
Meiggs was a longtime volunteer at the Jordan Hospital starting in the late 1970’s at the receptionist office and eventually having a hand in the Bonnets for Every Baby program. Her hand knit bonnets were officially a welcome into the world for hundreds of infants over the years.