Arlene Fleury, the oldest resident in Pembroke, recognized for her community efforts

  • Arlene Fleury, 97, of Pembroke, received the town’s Boston Post Cane. Courtesy

  • One of the quilts made by Arlene Fleury, which depicts various Pembroke locations. Courtesy

Monitor staff
Published: 7/15/2022 4:49:12 PM

Arlene Fleury of Pembroke, 97, continues to live on her own and even writes daily thoughts to her more than 600 followers on Facebook.

She’s the latest recipient of the Boston Post Cane award, a New England tradition that honors a community’s oldest living citizen, and Fleury’s independence and spirit make her a fine ambassador for the title.

As Ayn Whytmare, a close friend and the chair of the Pembroke Historical Society, wrote in an email, “She is a pistol.”

Fleury was presented with the Boston Cane on Friday.

In past years, recipients actually kept the three-foot long, gold-headed ebony cane and had it until passing the torch, causing many Canes to disappear into storage, dusty basements, or attics. Some were stolen, others accidentally destroyed.

Pembroke lost its cane for many years before it was found and the tradition continued, starting in the 1990s. Pembroke now stores its cane in the Pembroke Town Hall, along with a photo of the most recent honoree.

The tradition began in 1909, when the publisher of the now-folded Boston Post newspaper had 700 canes manufactured and sent them to towns all over New England, telling boards of selectmen to present the cane to their oldest residents. The venerable Yankee tradition was opened to women in 1930.

Fleury moved from Pittsfield to a farm on Locke Hill Road in Epsom during the late 1920s. In 1947, she and her husband, Vic, were gifted by her father-in-law a property on Buck Street in Pembroke where they built the home in which she continues to live.

She was an Army cadet nurse and maker of 161 quilts, including one displayed in the Pembroke Town Library that depicts each historical building in town.

She has 12 children, 19 grandchildren, 31 great-grandchildren and 37 great-great-grandchildren.

Ray Duckler bio photo

Ray Duckler, our intrepid columnist, focuses on the Suncook Valley. He floats from topic to topic, searching for the humor or sadness or humanity in each subject. A native New Yorker, he loves the Yankees and Giants. The Red Sox and Patriots? Not so much.

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