GREENE — Barbara Sawyer Nelson celebrated her 100th birthday on Jan. 15.

On Jan. 16, she was surrounded by family, friends and dignitaries at her favorite party spot, the Meadows Senior Living Center. Family members traveled from California for the party and Nelson received a Letter of Sentiment from Gov. Baldacci congratulating her on reaching 100 years of age.

Peter Ogden from the Veterans Administration was on hand to present Nelson with a certificate stating that a plaque was hanging in the Hall of Flags commemorating her military service. Other dignitaries who attended the celebration were Sen. John Nutting, Rep. Stacy Dostie and Greene Selectman Tim Doyle.

Nelson began her work life right out of high school, managing her father’s Sawyer Farm Ice Cream Shops that dotted the highway from Greene to New Gloucester. When her father closed the shops during the Great Depression, she entered the military with a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army.

She was deployed to India during the China, India, Burma Conflict in the late 1930s. It was during this time that Nelson was promoted to Captain and became one of the first women in the U.S. Army to command a company sized unit of approximately 150 soldiers. It was also in India that she met her husband, Claire Nelson.

After Claire retired, they struck off to homestead in Alaska. Because they did not enjoy the lack of amenities in Alaska, they moved to South Carolina, where Barbara held a high-ranking position in the Republican Party.

After Claire’s death in 1965, she returned to Greene and settled in her childhood home where she resides today. The Greene Board of Selectmen recently presented her a Boston Post Cane as Greene’s eldest citizen. 

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