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Around The Grange
Grange honors longtime members in Sterling

By Don Bond, Norwich Bulletin (7/17/11)

  JULY 20, 2011 --

Three former or current first selectmen of Sterling and Voluntown were among 12 people honored Sunday by Ekonk Community Grange No. 89 for longtime service in the Grange.

Former Sterling First Selectman Robert P. Jordan received the most significant award, when he was cited for 75 years of membership in the organization. Former Voluntown First Selectman Willis Maynard was one of three people honored for 65 years of service; current Sterling First Selectman Russell Gray was among five members honored for 50 years of Grange membership.

Also honored during the annual dinner at the Grange Hall were Celia Bennett and Barbara Stott, 65 years; Mary Bingham, 55 years; Verna L. Cole, Lorna Champagne, Ethel T. Larkin and Luther E. Thurlow, 50 years; and Rebecca Gervais and Betsy Molodich, 25 years.

Jordan, 89, said he first joined the Highland Junior Grange in South Killingly in 1936 when he was still in his teens. He became its first master. He remained a member of Highland Grange until 2006, when he joined Ekonk Community Grange.

“There were about 30 young people in the Junior Grange and most of us stayed with the organization as we grew older,” Jordan said. “Outside of church, the Grange was one of the few places where young people could get together in those days.”

He said about 25 friends and family members, including 10 of his 13 children, were on hand Sunday to see him receive his award.

Jordan served 26 years as Sterling first selectman. He and his wife, Edna, owned and operated Jordan Acres Dairy Farm on Saw Mill Hill Road for many years.

‘It was a fun place to go’

Maynard said it was easy for him to become involved in the Grange as a teen.

“I lived next door to the Grange Hall and there was really nothing but the Grange going on in those days,” he said. “It was a fun place to go.”

Maynard, a retired dairy farmer, said most Grange meetings were followed by dances, something he especially enjoyed.

He said he has remained an active supporter of Grange programs, but never harbored any ambition to serve as an officer.

Gray, who joined Ekonk Grange a half-century ago, has held a variety of offices, including master for more than 10 terms.

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