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Sterling native honored for 80 years in Ekonk Grange

By Don Bond, The Norwich Bulletin (7/6/10)

  JULY 13, 2010 --

Some of Silvia Burdick's fondest memories of the early years of her membership in the Ekonk Community Grange involve playing the piano for dances it sponsored.

"I also enjoyed the square dances the Grange held," Burdick, 97, said Tuesday after being presented with a certificate recognizing her 80 years of membership in the organization.

Burdick, who has lived at the Woodpecker Hill Health Center in Rhode Island since December 2009, just a short distance over the state line from her native Sterling, said the Ekonk Grange was about the only active civic organization in town when she began her membership at age 17 in 1930.

"There was the Grange and the church," said Burdick, a longtime member of the Oneco United Methodist Church. "That's all we had for entertainment." She said she also enjoyed the suppers and whist (a card game) parties the Grange often sponsored.

Russell Gray, a past master of the Connecticut State Grange, presented Burdick with the membership certificate from the National Grange, commemorating her longevity.

"It's not often we have the opportunity to present someone with an 80-year membership," Gray said. Now Sterling's first selectman, Gray also gave Burdick a bouquet of flowers from the Ekonk Grange.

The ceremony was held in the community room at Woodpecker Hill, with several of Burdick's fellow residents on hand to applaud her accomplishment.

Burdick's history

Burdick was born in a house in Oneco her grandfather built. She worked 30 years as a clerk at the Oneco Post Office, where her husband, Lester, was postmaster. She retired at age 70. She and her husband, who died in 2003, also had a small farm with a few cows and raised much of their vegetables in their own garden.

"There were a lot of small farms in Sterling in the 1930s," Burdick recalled. "Most of them don't exist anymore." Gray, a retired dairy farmer, said there are now four working dairy farms, a turkey farm, an alpaca farm and two market garden businesses in town.

Burdick said she inherited some of her talent as a musician from her father, who was a fiddler and joined her in providing music for concerts and dances.

In addition to playing at Grange dances, Burdick also performed in fundraising concerts at Town Hall to raise money to pay off the mortgage for her church and its parsonage, as well as for the town library and fire department.


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