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On the Move

On the Move: Former Girl Scout is still on the move at 83

I think I’d met Nancy Bean before we met this week. I’d certainly heard her name many times. I should have met her before, as we are near neighbors. So last week, as that huge snowfall was just starting, I bravely put my car in a low gear and slid over to Nancy’s house. We spent two lovely hours in her charming kitchen, papered in blue and yellow flowers reminiscent of Claude Monet’s kitchen in Giverny, France, at a table covered in a red-checked cloth.

Nancy is a slender, lively 83-year-old who epitomizes the words “on the move,” which she has been since her kindergarten year, when she remembers being impatient to get to age 7 so she could be a Brownie Girl Scout. She stayed in scouting for 39 years.

She became a teacher and she married a teacher. Their first jobs were doing outdoor education on Palomar Mountain outside San Diego, Calif. Sixth-graders arrived at Palomar weekly by bus on Monday and stayed until Friday hiking, learning about the outdoors, visiting the famous telescope on the mountain and studying environmental sciences, long before environmental studies enjoyed the popularity they know today. The Beans were there for two years before coming back east.

While her husband taught grades and became the principal of the Francestown elementary school, Nancy gave birth to two daughters and, for a while, became a stay-at-home mom and a Girl Scout leader. When her mother was diagnosed with Glaucoma and began to lose her sight, the Bean family moved to Nancy’s childhood home in Shirley, Mass., to help.

When the Bean daughters were ages 10 and 12, their parents decided they should get to know their country. They traveled across the country with a pop-up camper. Nancy has crossed the country six times since.

On the way to a camping vacation in Colebrook, during a stop in Concord, the Beans saw the announcement of a need here for a special education teacher. Her husband was a special education teacher. He applied for the job. Five days later, he went to work for Concord’s school system.

Of course, they eventually moved here. Nancy was a reading specialist and helped students with reading struggles in Walker, Millville, Morrill, Rumford and Kimball Schools until she retired in 1991. She joined the YMCA’s Active Older Adults and has been an active member of Barbara Hanchet’s Always An Adventure group since its inception. She has helped put together the group’s parties as well as taking part in its activities – kayaking, hiking, biking, camping and traveling – when she’s not too busy with her volunteer jobs.

Nancy visits Shaw’s market weekly to pick up donated bread stuffs for the food pantry at St. Peter’s Church. She helps set up the church suppers and is one of their dishwashers after the suppers. She helps clean the church monthly. She answers the telephone for the Carmelite Monastery. She belongs to three granges, her No. 1 grange being in Antrim. She plays games and takes part in exercise classes at the Centennial Senior Center. At the Tuck Library, she has sorted pictures, “in the cellar – no sunshine,” she says.

Nancy is very concerned about the proposed changes to Main Street and Loudon Road. She suggests that before we spend thousands of dollars on a plan that may or may not fulfill its intentions, we should set up those orange cones to simulate the reduced lanes and find out if the idea is viable.

Snow had piled up on my car while we visited. Nancy kindly grabbed a broom, swept it off and sent me up the snow-covered hill toward home.

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