SUMNER – Roger J. Brigham, holder of Sumner’s Boston Post Gold-headed Cane, was honored on March 6, two days before his 100th birthday.

The celebration was held at the East Sumner Congregational Church where Brigham was organist, choir director and member of a quartet for many years. He also played at the Unitarian Church in West Sumner.

The Boston Post canes were distributed to 600 New England towns in 1909 by Edward A. Grozier, publisher of the Boston Post. They are made from South African ebony with heads of gold.

The intent of the Boston Post was to honor the oldest residents of the towns with special canes.

Brigham was presented his cane on Aug. 13, 2001, by Sumner selectmen after the passing of the former recipient. The cane has been passed down 14 times since 1929 when Sharon Robinson was the first recipient.

Brigham has had a colorful career, being a graduate of Princeton and attending Renes University in Brittany, France, where he met his wife, Yvonne.

He served as French teacher for Miss Porter’s School for Young Ladies in Connecticut until 1968, when he and Yvonne moved to West Sumner as year-round residents. He quickly became part of the community, serving on the first planning board and taking on other civic duties.

Brigham always had horses and rode until he was in his 70s. He also loved to cook. Yvonne prepared the French dishes and he baked the breads in the renovated farm house in West Sumner.

He said he learned several things about Maine after moving from New Jersey. He learned to be thankful for rain because of wells and if you wanted to be warm, the man of the house was the one to get in the firewood.

Greg Wallace, who worked for Brigham for many years, said he was mowing in the fields one really hot day. He looked toward the house and saw Brigham waving a can of beer in one hand and motioning him in to take a break with the other. “That’s the kind of person Roger was,” said Wallace.

Earl Simpson said to Brigham, “We’re not here just for your 100th birthday. We are all here to honor you as you have honored your parents, but this community as well.”

Sen. Bruce Bryant presented greetings from Gov. John Baldacci, the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Brigham appeared humbled and overwhelmed for the 70-plus people who attended and thanked them graciously. He said his longevity was not due to anything he had done, but to fantastic genes he had inherited and “to my most exceptional friends here in Sumner.”


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