Pelham’s Pillar of Strength with Passion for her Home Town has Passed Away

November 13, 2015


Carrolyn Lorraine Mason Law was 97 when she passed away.  She kept her independent and spitfire attitude to the last.  Her son Jay and her daughter-in-law Kyle could never have taken care of her as they did, and she never could have stayed in her own home the way she did if she hadn’t held so stubbornly onto her independence.  She was an extraordinary woman and she will be greatly missed.

Her grandson Jonathan’s favorite story of hers:  she used to tell about the time when she was a little girl riding her first bicycle, which had wooden wheels.  She was driving it down a hill, using her feet to steer, and she wiped out.

Jonathan learned how to ride his bike over her house.  She was never afraid to let him push his limits as a kid.  He was never afraid, because she was never afraid for him.  She never got nervous to let him climb high up in the trees in her yard.  Now that Jonathan is grown, giving his daughter those first lessons in confidence that his Grandma had given to him, the memories are meaningful and precious.

“I’m happy that my daughter got to spend so much time with her great-grandmother,” Jonathan said, “And that she got to spend the last years of her life being a great grandmother.  She really loved children.  Especially the children in her family.”

When she was still a child herself, Carrolyn was in the 4H club for quilting and sewing.  She was making her own clothes by the time she was 5 years old.  She continued quilting throughout her lifetime.  She created the dress she wore to attend Pelham’s 250th Anniversary Committee’s Victorian Ball a number of years ago.

She was very dedicated to the town of Pelham.  Her parents drove out to the country when she was a little girl and purchased the farm on Atwood Road for about $3,500.  Built in the late 1700s, it is one of the oldest properties in Pelham.

She worked hard to keep Pelham a rural community.  She was on the Planning Board for a number of years, alongside her good friend Spike Hayes.  Some have attributed her with being the most devoted Planning Board member in the history of the town.  She was by the book and stuck to her guns.

Carrolyn was also a member of Pelham’s 250th Committee, a group established in 1994 to celebrate the history of the town.  She worked within the group to help create a book called “Reflections: A Pictorial History of Pelham, New Hampshire, 1746 – 1996.”

As a member of the Pelham Historical Society, Carrolyn worked alongside Annemarie B. Hargreaves who led the charge to get the Abbot Bridge restored and registered as an historical landmark in the state of New Hampshire.  Built in 1837, Abbott Bridge is the oldest surviving double-arched stone bridge in the state.  Today motorists drive over the bridge between Walgreens and Citizens Bank on their way to the Village Green in Pelham center.

Carrolyn’s ancestry was deeply rooted in New Hampshire.  She was a proud decedent of the Odiorn Family, the first European settlers to New Hampshire in the 1660s, after whom Odiorn Point in Rye was named.  She was an Old Yankee.  Her great-grandfather, George Washington Odiorn, fought in the Civil War.  She was very proud of her family history.

When she was a kid, and still a Mason growing up in Methuen, Mass., she first met Ernest Law.  They lived in the same neighborhood.  He would ride his bike to her house, looking for her, and her mother, Lillian Mason, would holler, “Carrolyn, that boy’s out front on his bike again.”  She ended up dating that boy throughout high school and she married him before he left for Word War II.  She would drive to visit Ernest on the naval base whenever he came back state side.  After the war, Carrolyn and Ernest Law lived in New Haven, Conn., in Quonset huts while Ernest attended Yale and was in the Naval Reserves.

Eventually the pair moved back to Pelham.  Ernest became a Professor at Boston University and Carrolyn became a Registered Nurse.  A picture of Ernest M. Law hangs in the reading room of the Pelham Public Library.  There is a high school scholarship fund at Pelham High School set up in his name.  It was Carrolyn’s wishes that donations be made to the Ernest M. Law scholarship fund in her memory.

Ernest and Carrolyn had quite the extraordinary dahlia garden.  In addition to all her public service to the town of Pelham, she was a member of Pelham’s Garden Group.  She had a crooked finger from pulling weeds.  In her last years, although the gardening work alluded her, she still spent countless hours sitting outside among her flowers while her family took up tending to them.  All the while she’d recount stories of summers spent at Squam Lake.

Evenings at Squam Lake were spent out on the porch talking, reading, and playing very competitive games of scrabble.  During the day she’d paddle around in the canoe, looking for loon nests and picking wild blueberries.  She would row up to the shoreline and pick wild blueberries right from the canoe, sometimes almost tipping over to save the bucket from falling in the lake, and the blueberries would end up all over the floor of the boat.  She’d take them home and turn them into pies.

Carrolyn frequented the wild blueberry bushes that grow behind her house in the powerlines, along her property, and in the Peabody Town Forest.  She’d pick out back with a bucket attached to her belt.  In recent years, her great-granddaughter was taken to the wild blueberry patches to ensure that the blueberry tradition still lives.  Cross-country skiing behind her house and in the Peabody Forest was another favorite pastime of Cal’s, as many of her friends affectionately called her.

Her last summer, she had a lot of company from her best friends in Pelham, Gayle Plouffe, Josie Fletcher, Eleanor Burton, Bill and Joyce McDevitt, her family from town and her sister and sister’s family from Vermont.  She always had her fat, little dog Zeke by her side.  She gave her visiting nurses a run for their money whenever they’d try to have her drink more water on hotter days.  She would tell them she was too busy to stop and take a drink of water.  She knew the way she liked things and that was it.  There was no telling her what to do.  She told everyone else was to do.

She was a driving force.  It was her stubborn self-determination and independent spirit that carried her through a very long and healthy life.  She took care of herself.  She took care of her family and a lot of other people along the way.  She had a big impact on so many of our lives within the Pelham community and we are going to miss her, but there is no forgetting Carrolyn Lorraine Mason Law.