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Around The Grange
Central Village woman honored for 75 years of service with Grange
 

By Don Bond, The Norwich Bulletin (4-20-08)

  APRIL 20, 2008 --

When Hazel Opperman joined the Grange in 1933, the Great Depression was entering full swing and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was talking to his fellow countrymen in his famous fireside chats.

Opperman, who now lives in Central Village, was just 21 when she joined the Plainfield Grange, which, at the time, was one of the larger community organizations.

On Sunday, Opperman, now a member of the Ekonk Community Grange, was honored for 75 years of membership in the organization. Her award topped a list of 17 membership awards totaling 935 years of service presented during the luncheon and ceremony at the Grange hall on Route 49.

Sterling First Selectman Russell Gray, program director for the Grange, presented the award to Opperman, who eventually became a member of the Ekonk Grange after the Granges in Plainfield and Canterbury both shut down. Gray, a former state Grange master, noted Opperman's award was only the fifth 75-year membership he has presented during his long tenure in the organization.

"The Grange was very active and was a lot of fun when I became a member," Opperman said. "The membership was larger, with 40 or 50 people attending every meeting. There was no television in those days and we didn't have a lot of other distractions, so the Grange became a center of people's social lives, offering entertainment that included card games, dances and suppers."

Four members of the Exley family of Plainfield were honored for a combined 155 years of Grange membership. Alton Exley was recognized for 55 years, his wife, Marie, for 50 years and their daughters, Jane Exley Eaton and Jill Exley Renaud, both received 25-year membership awards.

"Next to raising our children and our dairy farm, the Grange has been a major part of our lives," Marie Exley said. She said she was one of six Exleys to serve as master of the Plainfield Grange. Her daughter, Jill, was the youngest to hold the office, being elected at the age of 14.

Three people, Charles Gray, Fred Miller and George Turner, were honored for 70 years of membership, and two others, Marion R. Emmons and Dorothy Miller, were recognized for 65 years of service.

Doris Desjardins of Central Village, Doris Murray of Sterling, Henry G. Moon and the late Albert K. Frink, who died April 15, were cited for 60 years of Grange membership. Bruce Lindberg and Mildred Stearns received 50-year membership awards and David Hunt was recognized for 25 years of participation in the organization.

 

 
 
 
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