Surprise ceremony honors Marion Helen Stafford as Colrain’s oldest resident

  • Marion Helen Stafford, 95, of Colrain, is honored as the town’s oldest resident by Selectboard member Michael Slowinski in a surprise ceremony attended by her family at the Arthur A. Smith Covered Bridge on Friday. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Marion Helen Stafford, 95, of Colrain, is honored as the town’s oldest resident by Selectboard member Michael Slowinski and Chair Mark Thibodeau in a surprise ceremony attended by her family at the Arthur A. Smith Covered Bridge on Friday. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Marion Helen Stafford, 95, of Colrain, receives flowers from a relative. Stafford was honored for being the oldest resident of Colrain in a surprise ceremony attended by her family at the Arthur A. Smith Covered Bridge on Friday. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 10/19/2020 2:08:56 PM

COLRAIN — Although the whereabouts of Colrain’s Boston Post golden cane are unknown, that hasn’t stopped the town from honoring its oldest living resident.

Marion Helen Stafford, 95, was celebrated as Colrain’s oldest resident on Friday afternoon. In place of a Boston Post cane — one of which was given to each Massachusetts community in the early 1900s — Stafford was shown a memorial plaque that hangs in the Town Offices. The plaque will forever memorialize Stafford’s name alongside the town’s former and future golden cane recipients.

Joining Stafford Friday were three of her daughters and their families: Deborah Wheeler and her husband, Guy; Jennifer Ryan with her husband, James, and their daughter, Casey; and Sarah Alber and her daughter, Jordan. The family members gathered on the Arthur A. Smith Covered Bridge on Lyonsville Road to surprise Stafford with a framed proclamation from the town, presented by Selectboard Chair Mark Thibodeau and member Michael Slowinski.

“The town congratulates Marion Helen Stafford and is proud to have her represent Colrain as the holder of the Boston Post cane award,” Slowinski said, reading from the framed proclamation.

“This is wonderful,” Stafford said, smiling.

“Well, you’ve been wonderful to the town,” Slowinski replied.

Born July 30, 1925, Stafford has lived in Colrain for her entire life. She said she remembers living through the Great Depression as a child, and World War II as a young adult. She graduated from Arms Academy in Shelburne Falls in 1943, furthered her education at the Springfield Hospital School of Nursing and went on to work as a pediatric nurse.

Stafford married her husband, Clint, in 1945. Clint served in the Navy, which had recently developed sonar technology. Marion said Clint returned home for a short period as the Navy sent ships to port to have sonar installed, and they decided to get married before he left again.

“And they had to keep it a secret because in nursing school you had to be single,” her family chimed in.

“Nursing school, back in my day, was like going into a convent,” Marion joked.

Marion and Clint had four daughters, six grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and four great-great-grandchildren. After Clint’s death, Marion took ownership of his construction company, “whereupon she continued to run the business for 12 more years as a successful woman in a male-dominated profession,” Slowinski said.

“My husband died when he was 55 years old,” Stafford said. “I took over his business and I feel like I lived two separate lives. It’s like I lived another life.”

In his proclamation, Slowinski also described Stafford as a world traveler who researched and studied her travel destinations to better understand the culture and history of her adventures.

These days, Stafford enjoys spending time with her family, watching NFL games and maintaining her flower garden. She is an active member of local gardening clubs, as well as the Colrain Historical Society.

Zack DeLuca can be reached at zdeluca@recorder.com or 413-930-4579.



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