Pat Jewett is the Heart and Soul of Litchfield

March 6, 2015

by Laurie Jasper

“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there,” Pat Jewett quipped in her speech as she was lauded at the first annual Pat Jewett Volunteer Appreciation Day on Sunday, March 1 at Campbell High School auditorium in Litchfield.  Following the awards ceremony, a dinner in Pat’s honor was held in the cafeteria, with proceeds to help fund future Pat Jewett Volunteer Appreciation Day programs.

In 2014, Pat Jewett officially tendered her resignation from the Litchfield Board of Selectmen due to health issues, and Pat’s many years of service were recognized at the annual town meeting.  Then, during Litchfield’s Memorial Day program last year, the town proclaimed March 1 (Pat Jewett’s birthday) would be known annually as Pat Jewett Volunteer Appreciation Day and that each year the community would recognize those who continue Pat’s legacy of service.

For more than 50 years, Pat served Litchfield in many capacities, in addition to working as an elementary special education teacher in Nashua for over 30 years.  The long list includes:  Conservation Committee:  1952-1954; School Board:  1957-67, 2004-10; Recreation Committee:  1956-1963; Board of Selectmen:  1979-2011, 2012-2014; Zoning Board of Adjustment:  1985-1986; Welfare Director:  1985-2010; N.P.P.C. treasurer:  1987-1995; Town Clean-up Day chairman:  1995-2010; Memorial Day, Pearl Harbor Day and Veterans Day chairman:  1980-2010; Town Hall and School Building Committee:  1985-2000.  It should be noted that she was the first female member on the board of selectmen.

Among her other affiliations:  4-H Club leader, 1944-54; Cub Scout den mother, 1971-75 and 1952-55; Community Church, 1958-present; Sunday school teacher, Youth Group leader, assisted at Strawberry Festivals, Yard Sales and Holiday Fairs; Extension Club officer, 1955-58; Hudson Grange, 1953-present; P.T.O. Litchfield and Nashua, 1952-1995; coached softball and volleyball, 1950s-60s; Alvirne Booster Club, 1962-65; Director of SHARE food pantry, 1967-72; Board of Directors Community Council, 2006-present; Learning Disabilities Specialists, 1974-90; Friends of C.H.S., 2000-02; Organized Senior Citizens, 2010-present; organized various events for veterans – care packages, socks for seniors; collected backpacks and supplies for children of Litchfield.

In fact, it took event host Laura Gandia over five minutes to list all of Pat’s accomplishments, and even then, “I believe I’m probably still missing some of her volunteerism,” said Laura.

Among the many accolades were those from her son-in-law, John Morey, who said, “Pat epitomizes every part of the phrase ‘would give you the shirt off her back.’”  John recounted the many Christmas in July events Pat and her late husband, Will, hosted in their backyard for senior citizens, complete with a full turkey dinner and plenty of homemade desserts, keeping the town reader board updated, picking up litter on the side of the road and driving cancer patients to appointments.  “The acknowledgement of her service and love of this town is an honor and she and her family will be forever grateful,” said John.

“I have to admit, I laughed at a $30 per person dinner in Pat’s honor,” said Pat’s longtime friend Diane Jerry to shared laughter.  “We’ve served on many committees together, spending as little as possible to do it,” Diane continued.  The crowd chuckled as Diane told of Pat’s means of taking minutes at meetings, using any scrap of paper she could find, and of taking home Styrofoam cups to wash them for the next gathering.

Litchfield’s Police Chief Joseph O’Brion has known Pat for over 20 years.  “Pat’s values and willingness to make Litchfield a better place haven’t changed,” said Chief O’Brion.  He recounted when town administrator Jason Hoch first came to Litchfield, his goal was to teach Pat to use a computer.  Hoch was very confident in his ability to teach Pat in no time, so O’Brion and Hoch made a friendly wager of a submarine sandwich.  “Anyone who knows Pat knows she uses the phone or writes a note.  Thank you, Pat, that sub was delicious,” O’Brion said.

Pat received flowers, certificates, letters from Litchfield gathered from citizens, and proclamations from both the New Hampshire House of Representatives and Senate.

House Speaker Shawn Jasper said he has known Pat his entire life.  “If you had to say who is the heart and soul of Litchfield, it truly is Pat Jewett,” said Jasper.

Senator Donna Soucy said, “Pat walks the walk and talks the talk.  Pat is a role model.”

A portion of the program was devoted to reading the names of all the members of the many town boards and committees, who will each receive a certificate of appreciation.  Town Administrator Hoch said, “Governments rely on a lot of volunteers, elected or appointed.  Volunteerism is the engine that drives this community.  We recognize those who serve this community now and encourage this in the future.”  Recalling what Pat said to him last year about saving the money by using a piece of cardboard from the dump when he presented her with a plaque honoring her service, Hoch obliged this year, giving Pat a piece of cardboard inscribed with thanks.

After receiving a standing ovation from the crowd, Pat shared some of her memories.  “My biggest surprise was the day I won selectman.  I made my signs up out of cardboard from the dump, and people thought I wouldn’t win with handmade signs, but I did,” said Pat.  “The saddest thing I ever did was writing my letter of resignation,” recalled Pat.  “My motto in teaching and life is firm, fair and fun.  I really appreciate all the volunteers who helped me; we had a lot of fun, and it was well worth all the time.  Thank you so much, I am delighted,” she concluded.