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Column: Longtime Andover volunteer ponders a rest at age 92

Irene Jewett

Irene Jewett

She’s been called “the glue that holds the town together,” “the mayor of East Andover” and, simply, “awesome.” There are few in town who do not know her name, her face, her work.

About to turn 92, Irene Jewett says she may cut back on her volunteer activities – well, maybe in a year or two. Her friends and colleagues find that hard to believe.

A native of Andover, where she lives now, Jewett has what many would consider a full volunteer plate. For the Andover Congregational Church, she’s the chairwoman of the restoration committee, which recently rebuilt the graceful steeple on the historic structure and is rehabbing the next-door grange hall, also church property. She hosts a weekly Bible study group in her home, a few doors from the church. She arranges church weddings, receptions and funerals. She has memories of her roughly 50-year service as church clerk.

But that’s not all.

For the town of Andover, Jewett is a 22-year member of the supervisors of the checklist, an elected board responsible for registering town voters and assuring the accuracy of the voting list. (In March of this year, she put in 12 hours on town meeting day.) She is a longtime member and past chairwoman of the town’s 4th of July Committee, which organizes the major community event of the year. She currently has two committee tasks: arranging the fireworks display and selling ads in the printed program. Then there’s the Labor Day Flea Market on the Village Green; she’s co-chairwoman of that event as well. And in her spare time she bakes birthday cakes for Proctor Academy boarding students and serves on the Andover Historical Society Board of Trustees.

But wait. There’s more.

Though she has stepped down from her volunteer work with the East Andover Fire Precinct and the Andover Rescue Squad (she retired as an EMT at age 75), she maintains an active interest in helping local individuals in need of assistance and support. Ongoing activities include driving friends and neighbors to medical and other appointments, preparing food for local shut-ins, and cat-sitting while neighbors are on vacation.

Asked what she had in mind when she mentioned relinquishing some of her responsibilities, Jewett was momentarily silent. Then she said: “You know, I’m perfectly healthy. I like working with people. Maybe I’ll just keep on doing what I’m doing.”

(Larry Chase of Andover
is a recovering corporate American.)

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