Article - A Century Of Memories: Farmington’s Beulah Thayer Turns 100 On May 4
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FARMINGTON — Beulah Thayer is the matriarch of the Thayer family, which has done so much for the town of Farmington, and she will have her 100th birthday on Friday, May 4. Her big celebration, though, will be the next day, when she will be joined by 46 family members at Thayercrest, her home on Main Hill. Close relatives will be flying in from as far away as Singapore and Oregon, and many places in between.
Beulah Perkins, as she once was, was born in Alton in 1912 and graduated from Alton High School with the Class of 1930. From there she attended Keene Normal School for three years, emerging with a teaching certificate, and in 1934, she taught grades 1 through 4 for a year in a one-room school house in Bedford.
“I loved teaching and I loved the kids,” she recalled, while seated comfortably on a Thayercrest couch near a package of her favorite Milanos, delivered by a thoughtful visitor.
While still in high school, Beulah had mastered the piano, and by chance, this led to her meeting the man she would marry — Jim Thayer. Jim played saxophone in a band, and when they lost their piano player for an event at Alton Bay Pavilion, Beulah was recruited.
Her parents carefully chaperoned the couple as their friendship developed and deepened, and were naturally a little concerned at their age difference — at the outset Beulah was 16 and Jim was 21.
Jim Thayer, Farmington born and bred, attended Harvard Business School and then went to work in Farmington National Bank. When it encountered difficulties during the Great Depression, Beulah recalls that Jim and some associates went to Washington D.C. with a rescue plan, and managed to resurrect it. Farmington National Bank was associated with Jim Thayer for the next six decades.
He and Beulah were married on June 14, 1934, and the couple built a house on land owned by his mother further up Main Street from Thayercrest, where she lived at the time.
“I hated to move to Farmington,” said Beulah, but noted this was only a brief reaction, and she very quickly came to love the town, and become involved in the multiple clubs of the area.
“I have loved Farmington for 78 years,” added Beulah, noting that all three of her children, Sylvia, Jim and Rick were born here.
“Do you love Farmington?” she asked in a tone that hinted “No” might be the wrong answer.
Daughter Sylvia Thayer (who is married to Phil Zaeder) passed over an impressive list that she and her mother had compiled of organizations that Beulah has been involved in over the years.
“Now, this is not to sound like an obituary,” was her gentle instruction.
Beulah has been active in the Eastern Star, Farmington Woman’s Club, the Girl Scouts, Farmington Historical Society, the Goodwin Library board of trustees, Farmington School Board, the Congregational Church, and the Women’s Fellowship. She has been a Sunday School teacher, the Junior Choir director and has served on the Board of Wardens.
She has been a been a member of the Mary Torr Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Dames of the Court of Honor and the Daughters of the Colonial Wars.
Beulah has been involved with Frisbie Memorial Hospital Auxiliary and Strawbery Banke, and served as a FMH volunteer. She spent many years involved in projects with the school children of Farmington, and continues to take a very active interest in the lives of her own three children, nine grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren.
In the 1990s, Jim and Beulah Thayer decided to contribute $2 million toward the construction of the current Farmington High School and worked with the Assistant School Superintendent Jack Henderson to bring it before the voters. This was roughly a third of the total cost, with the state chipping in another third. The people of Farmington, appreciative of the Thayer’s generosity, passed the bond with a record majority.
The Thayers also financed the construction of the children’s room addition to the Goodwin Library and major repairs to the Congregational Church spire. After her husband died, Beulah carried on with the family’s philanthropic work, and a few years ago following consultations with her family, announced that she would renovate Farmington Town Hall, and hire master carpenter Martin Gilman to supervise the extensive project. It included installation of state-of-the art sound equipment and a screen for multimedia presentations, new stage curtains and lighting, new seating and tables for functions, and much more.
Today, Beulah is active in Farmington Woman’s Club and enjoys a game of bridge with the best of them. She attends church, pops into the library on occasions, and keeps a sharp eye on what is happening both locally and further afield.
“She doesn’t like politics,” Sylvia chipped in, as her mother offered an enigmatic smile.
To mark her birthday on Friday, May 4, the bells in the tower of the Farmington Congregational Church will be rung 100 times, starting at 6:30 p.m.
The bell ringer will be a longtime member of the congregation and a choir member, Norman Greeley, who said he gladly volunteered for the job in light of everything that Beulah Thayer has done for the church over the decades.
“It should take more than three or four minutes, once I get them going, but I think I will need someone with me to keep count,” said Greeley.
FHS- Kyle Leach
By John Nolan / email@example.com