Claire McCaffery Sharpe, the last resident to hold the Boston Post Cane; she died in January at age 107.

The Boston Post Cane tradition was established in 1909 by the Boston Post Newspaper. A special cane was presented to the Board of Selectmen in several towns throughout New England, to be presented as an honor to each town’s oldest resident.

East Greenwich’s Boston Post Cane (a replica) was returned to the town after its latest holder, Claire Sharpe, passed away in January at the age of 107. Ms. Sharpe was the 19th known recipient of the cane.

To be eligible, the holder of the cane must be 90 years old and must reside in the Town of East Greenwich for a minimum of 20 years. The resident must reside at a fixed, permanent and principal home in the town and/or at a nursing home/assisted living facility. Nominations are being accepted by the Town Clerk’s office through July 23rd.

The honoree will be selected by a Committee consisting of the Town Clerk, a representative from the East Greenwich Historic Preservation Society and the Senior Center Manager by July 31st.

The Boston Post Cane Guidelines

The Boston Post Cane tradition was established in 1909 by the Boston Post newspaper. A special cane was presented to the Board of Selectmen in 431 towns in New England, to be presented as an honor to each town’s oldest resident. The recipient held the honor as long as he/she lived in the town. Upon his or her death, the cane would be returned to the Board of Selectman who began a new search and the cane would be awarded to the next oldest resident.

To provide for preservation and public awareness of the tradition and protection of the cane from loss or damage, the Town of East Greenwich established a protocol and definition of East Greenwich’s oldest resident. A replica cane was purchased in 2013. The original cane is on display in the Town Clerk’s office for safekeeping.

Eligibility and Selection

The holder of the cane must be 90 years old or older and must reside in the Town of East Greenwich for a minimum of the last 20 years. The term “resident” refers to a person who has physically resided at a fixed, permanent and principal home in the town and/or at a nursing home/assisted living facility.

Recognizing that numerous individuals establish residency in East Greenwich’s nursing homes/assisted living facilities late in life but otherwise may not be engaged as residents of the Town of East Greenwich and recognizing that the Town has no formal means of identifying residents by age, selection of the honoree shall be by a committee of three. The committee shall consist of the Town Clerk, a representative of the East Greenwich Historic Preservation Society and the Senior Center Manager.

Method to Search for Oldest Resident

There shall be a notice placed in the media (local newspaper, town website, school department email list, eNews, etc.) looking for nominations for those residents who are 90 years old or older and have been a resident of East Greenwich for a minimum of the last 20 years. All nominations must be received in the Town Clerk’s office 30 days from the date of the posting of the notice in the media. The search may also include an informal survey, general public knowledge, tax rolls, inquiries to nursing homes, civic groups and churches or by nomination from family and friends. Nominations are accepted through the Town Clerk’s office by calling (401) 886-8604 or emailing lcarney@eastgreenwichri.com.

Presentation

The Town Council president or his/her designee shall present East Greenwich’s oldest resident with a replica cane and resolution approved by the Town Council. The location of the presentation will be determined according to the circumstances of the honoree. The recipient will retain the honor as long as he/she remains in East Greenwich even though another resident may become eligible. The Town Clerk’s office must be notified if the recipient dies, changes residency outside the Town of East Greenwich, is in rehabilitation for longer than 90 days or otherwise refuses or returns the honor. At that time, the Town Clerk shall determine the new oldest resident of East Greenwich.

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