DERRY — Dorothy Greene had everything in place — her hair, stockings and a special string of pearls. It had to be just right as it’s not every day someone is named the oldest person in town.
At 105, Greene was named Derry’s oldest citizen and received the town’s Boston Post Cane in a ceremony at Pleasant Valley nursing center on June 7. Greene has lived there for several years.
She was surrounded by her only child, daughter Kathy Robichaux, and other Pleasant Valley residents as Derry Town Council Chairman Michael Fairbanks and Heritage Commission member Elaine Connors did the cane honors.
The Boston Post Cane began as a marketing program by the Boston Post newspaper’s publisher Edwin Grozier. According to legend, the newspaper gave 431 ebony canes to New England communities in 1909 to be awarded to each town’s oldest living resident. Only men received the canes until 1930, then women had the chance to be honored for their longevity. Awarding the cane has become a New England tradition in the years since.
Derry’s first Post Cane came to town in September 1909, and was presented to the town’s oldest citizen, 92-year-old Patrick Gillespie. Nellie Huckins was believed to be Derry’s first woman to receive the cane at the age of 98 during the 1950s.
Greene was born on Dec. 13, 1907, in St. John’s, Newfoundland. She moved to Concord at the age of 15, and eventually met and married Roy Green at the age of 21.
Married life took Greene to Belmont, Mass., where she worked as a secretary for many years. She and her husband raised a daughter.
She now has four grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.
Her secrets for a long, happy life include family, reading her Bible, and enjoying nice cup of tea with bread and butter.
Greene also makes sure her hair is done daily and never forgets those nylon stockings.
Robichaux said her mother walks with a walker and does well, except for some hearing issues. Her mother’s secret to longevity may be in the fact she only had one child.
“I had four,” she said.
Charles Robichaux said his mother-in-law is a kind woman with a strong faith.
“It’s her belief in God, (her child), grandchildren and great-grandchildren,” he said.
For Connors, the search for the town’s oldest citizen took her to all the community nursing homes to seek out older residents. She also put out a plea to the public.
“It was very exciting,” Connors said. “I came here looking and it was nice to finally find someone.”
That someone was Green. The woman’s long life made her the top choice to receive the cane.
Derry gives a replica of the original cane to its recipients, engraved with their name. The town’s original Boston Post Cane is on permanent display at the Derry Municipal Center.
Pleasant Valley has a good tradition with longevity. Previous cane holder Catherine Dion lived to be 110 and was a resident of the Derry facility. Staff members said there are several residents who are 100 years of age and older living there.