SUMNER — Sumner selectmen Kelly Stewart, Mary Ann Haxton and Edwin Shaw gathered at the home of 98-year-old Vernon Bradeen on Saturday to present him with the Boston Post Cane.

Sumner Selectmen Mary Ann Haxton, left, and Ed Hinshaw, center, present Vernon Bradeen, 98, with the Boston Post Cane at his home on Saturday. Submitted photo

“This cane is a symbol of the many contributions to our town, state and country of our treasured older citizens,” The selectmen announced in a statement. “Vernon Bradeen, please accept this with our thanks and congratulations.”

Vernon Bradeen was born on December 30th, 1921. His parents brought him home from the hospital in a cardboard box to the house he still lives in today, 98 years later.

As a young man in East Sumner, Bradeen fostered a talent for music. He took the train to a nearby town for lessons on the cornet, a brass instrument similar to the trumpet. He also found pleasure in learning to play the fiddle, guitar, and banjo.

Bradeen attended the one room schoolhouse down the road from his home. It was there where he fell in love with a local girl named Charlotte Hicks. The couple married in the Congregational Church of East Sumner, across the street from his house. They shared 72 years of marriage and three children, six grandchildren and nine great grandchildren. Charlotte passed away in 2016.

His life has been one of service. When the United States entered World War II Bradeen joined the Army Air Corp and was stationed in Italy. He flew over 50 missions in the P51 Mustang he lovingly named “Charlotte.” He was ultimately awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his wartime service.


After the war ended, Bradeen returned to Sumner where he actively served his community. He was Deacon at his church for many years, sang in the choir, rang the church bell to announce services and was responsible for keeping the church furnace running during the cold winter months. He also managed the community’s first food bank, which operated out of the church.

Bradeen sat on Sumner’s School Board and served as Trustee and Treasurer of the Robinson Increase Library in East Sumner. He only recently, and begrudgingly, accepted the fact that it is time for others to return the favor and lend him support.

Professionally, Bradeen worked as a flight instructor and at Wilner Wood Products where he operated an automatic machine that turned out wooden heels. In his spare time, he enjoyed bowling and playing golf well into his 80’s.

Almost a century after his birth, Bradeen continues to be a cornerstone of the East Sumner community, where on “just right” days he can be found sitting on his front porch and happily watching the world go by.

Several members of Vernon Bradeen’s family watch at a safe distance as he is presented with the Boston Post Cane. Submitted photo

The Boston Post Gold Canes were distributed to 600 New England towns in 1909 by Edward A. Grozier, publisher of the Boston Post. His intent was to honor the oldest citizens of those towns. The canes are of ebony from the Congo in Africa, shipped to America as 7-foot logs. Each cane is fashioned with a 14-carat gold head. The town of Sumner is proud to carry on the Boston Post Cane tradition.

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