Limestone honors oldest resident with Boston Post Cane

1 year ago

LIMESTONE, Maine — Two days before Benjamin “Benny” Franklin Brown celebrated his 95th birthday, Limestone honored him as the town’s oldest resident.

On Friday, Interim Town Manager Walt Elliot presented Brown with a replica of the Boston Post Cane, a New England tradition that honors the eldest citizen in small towns.

Brown was born Feb. 12, 1928, and grew up in Jonesport on Head Harbor Island. He left school after seventh grade to work with his father, Ora Brown, in the woods, cutting down and splitting trees for firewood. 

After Brown turned 18, he enlisted in the U.S. Army, and was later transferred to an Army base on Guam, an island in the western Pacific Ocean. While there, he worked as a nurse for 15 months, treating injured soldiers who had fought in the South Pacific.

In 1947, Brown left the army and moved to Limestone. While working for a local potato farmer during the fall harvest, Brown met his future wife, Florence Thompson. They married six months later and went on to raise six children in Limestone.

The couple were married for 66 years until Florence’s death in 2014. She lived to see 14 grandchildren grow up and get to know several great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.

“I married a girl from Limestone, so we settled here,” Brown said. “And I’ve been here 75 years now.”

Brown worked 16 years for the Limestone School Department as a bus driver before becoming a message carrier for the Caswell Radar Station. As part of his job, Brown would deliver top-security messages to the base commander at the nearby Loring Air Force Base.

Brown later worked at Loring for more than 25 years as a sanitation engineer on the base’s landfill. He retired in 1991 when he was 63, several years before the base permanently closed.

Before presenting Brown with his cane, Elliot listed his many achievements, including service as a volunteer firefighter.

“For a long time I’ve known Benny and his family and I’m grateful to be here today presenting him with this cane,” Elliot said.

The Boston Post Cane was originally given to 700 small towns across New England by the Boston Post, a now-defunct newspaper, beginning in 1909. Though originally passed down to the oldest male resident of each town, women were allowed to receive the cane beginning in 1930. 

Over a dozen people gathered at the town office to celebrate Brown, including his children Raymond Brown of Presque Isle, Leon Brown of Limestone and Mary Ann Oliver of Limestone, and a granddaughter, Colleen Burby of Presque Isle.

Oliver had been unaware that her father was Limestone’s oldest resident before town officials got in touch with her. She beamed as her father chatted happily with guests throughout the afternoon.

“He still remembers a lot. I hear the same stories over and over but I never get tired of them,” Oliver said. “Seeing him happy like this makes me happy.”