Pat Jewett: “Be Firm, Fair and Fun”February 21, 2014
by Laurie Jasper
It is fair to state, if you live in Litchfield, New Hampshire, you know of Pat Jewett. More than likely, you have even met Pat Jewett. Pat hasn’t simply resided in Litchfield for 62 years; she has truly lived a life of service for her beloved Litchfield. It was with a heavy heart, after experiencing recent health concerns that Pat, 85, decided it was time to resign from the Board of Selectmen. “I resigned so that my position would be on the ballot. I did what I thought was the best for the people,” said Pat, with emotion. Her resignation will be official after the March 11 town elections.
Pat was born in Raymond, NH but grew up in Derry, the youngest of three girls. “We were poor, but just because you’re poor you don’t have to be stupid,” said Pat in her own matter-of-fact style. Pat attended Lowell State, majoring in special education, and then went to Notre Dame in Manchester to be certified to teach in New Hampshire. Early on, Pat taught physical education in Nashua, traveling to seven schools. “I taught outdoors until it snowed. Then I taught in the classrooms. Imagine teaching 40 first graders to jump rope in their classroom,” recalled Pat with a laugh. Pat substitute taught and cleaned houses while obtaining her degree. In addition, she was involved in PTO.
Pat and her first husband had two children before they divorced. Then, Pat met and married Will Jewett. They had two children together. Will and Pat were a true team, working together at various functions and projects in Litchfield until his death four years ago. “I never could imagine a better husband than Will. I miss him so much. He enjoyed doing everything with me and he never said no,” recalled Pat.
Pat remembers when she first became involved in politics. “In 1952, I went to the Memorial Day supper, I made an apple pie, and the Hillsborough County Extension Services representative was there and asked me to join the conservation commission.” Pat would go on to hold just about every office in the town, including library trustee, town trustee, budget committee member, recreation committee member, school board member and selectman. “I’ve been on every committee except the planning board, because Will was on the planning board. He really enjoyed that, and that was his place,” said Pat. As part of the selectmen’s job as welfare agents, Pat directed the town welfare department for 22 years. Pat worked tirelessly to help those in need learn how to stretch a budget and eat healthy. “I would go to their houses and buy the stuff and show them how to make the dinners. I made mine and taught them how to cook and shop. I brought my pots and pans along. I met some very nice people. I like helping people, I always have,” said Pat.
Litchfield Board of Selectman Vice Chairman Frank Byron knows firsthand how much Pat has done for the town over the years. “Pat has been a constant in Litchfield. To see her leaving (the BOS) is a loss to the community,” said Frank. In addition to her duties as selectman, Pat has put in countless hours on many projects that helped those in need. “Pat gives a lot of her own resources – time and money – to help. She helps supply new backpacks for kids and collects mittens, scarves and boots for needy kids. She also has helped kids, who have gotten into trouble, with their probationary work, helping them to turn things around. She has organized care packages for servicemen overseas, held Pear Harbor Days and got World War II veteran plaques. She focuses on the people, a little bit different than most selectmen. The town will be poorer for her leaving the board,” Frank said.
Pat’s daughter Nancy Morey said, “My mother is a unique person. She gives so much of herself. She has done a remarkable job and is the most generous person. She truly loves Litchfield.”
At Litchfield’s Town deliberative session on February 1, the gathering paused to recognize Pat Jewett. Chairman of the Board of Selectman John Brunelle gave Pat a plaque: “Presented to M. Patricia Jewett in recognition of the three decades of service to the Town of Litchfield, with gratitude, the Litchfield Board of Selectmen, February 1, 2014.” John pointed out that, although Pat is a frugal person, she has never been frugal about her time. “She’s given tirelessly to this town and deserves all the thanks we can give her,” said John. A humbled Pat addressed the crowd after receiving a standing ovation, encouraging people to get involved in their community and help people who need it. “Be firm, fair and fun,” encouraged Pat.
Since announcing her intent to retire, Pat has received numerous notes, letters, flowers, phone calls and even food. “I don’t know what I’d do without my friends. Whatever you give comes back to you tenfold,” said Pat. Despite health concerns slowing her down a bit, Pat has assured people she will continue to do what she is able, which will include helping more at Community Church. “Age may be slowing her down, but I guarantee she’ll stay involved,” Frank said confidently. “It’s not how old you are, but what you have in your heart,” said Pat.
“I’m planning to be at the polls March 11th, to do my job (as an election official), to greet people and say thank you. You don’t know how much I’ve enjoyed this,” Pat said. Thank you, Pat Jewett, for your service to Litchfield.