Local historian dies at 97
Whenever someone thought about Bedford’s history, the name Doris Spurway always came to mind.
“She was just a fantastic person, with her knowledge and information she always had on her fingertips,” said Joan Reeves, a longtime friend and chairman of the Bedford Historical Society. “It’s a shame such a wonderful resource is no longer available to us.”
Margaret Wiggin, a longtime member of the Bedford Historical Society, could always count on Spurway whenever a question arose about town history.
“I’d always say, ‘Turn to Doris, she’d know the answer to that,’” said Wiggin, who used to babysit Spurway’s children, Byron and Peter. “She moved here and kind of adopted the place.”
Spurway even wanted her eulogy to have a historic aspect.
“Doris told the minister she wanted him to tell the story about the Presbyterian Church’s weathervane. It was built by Nathan Kendall, the village blacksmith, and he positioned the weathervane to spin on his crowbar,” said Ryk Bullock, who had known Spurway for 61 years. “Even with her parting words, she was still trying to impart knowledge.”
Since 1949, when she moved to town with her husband, Byron Peck, Spurway served her community and church in many ways – as a red phone operator for the Bedford Fire Department in 1953, as school district clerk for 25 years, assistant town librarian from 1956-81, supervisor of the checklist for 12 years, a ballot clerk, a cemetery trustee and secretary for 20 years, a member and past president of the Garden Club and a civil defense volunteer. She was secretary to six pastors from 1949-2000, was a Sunday school administrator and teacher, four-time president of the Ladies’ Circle and a member of the Unity Club from 1949 until it disbanded in 1991. She was also a church elder for six years, a deacon and a church archivist. Byron, who was also active in town and church affairs, died in 1983. Spurway later married H. Richard Spurway, who died in 2001.
She was Bedford’s historian and the co-writer and contributor of the 1971 edition of the “History of Bedford.” She co-founded the Bedford Historical Society in 1967 and was an active member until her death.
She also wrote a history column for The Bedford Bulletin for many years. She was also voted Most Understanding Wife in a Sept. 3, 1964, issue of the Union Leader, after Byron bought his second fire truck.
And she often visited Bedford classrooms telling students about the town’s history.
“It takes a village to raise a child, and Doris and Byron were a big part of that village,” Bullock said.
Bullock was a childhood friend of Spurway’s son, Peter, and remembers her work as supervisor of the checklist and as assistant librarian.
Bullock recently taped a show featuring Spurway about two weeks ago for Bedford Positively. The show was to air on YouTube but it is now on hold.
“We’ll be editing the program and doing it as memorial,” he said. “We are honored that this was the last interview she gave. We put to rest the greatest treasure our town has. The best thing we can do is live up to her legacy, especially the younger generation of our town.”
Spurway was also known for having a bright side.
“Through all these years, I never saw her mad. She was a guiding light for many of us,” Bullock said.
Spurway also received multiple awards, including 2000 Citizen of the Year by the Library Foundation and the New Hampshire Municipal Association’s 2009 Volunteer of the Year issued from Judd Gregg’s office. The 2006 Bedford Town Report was dedicated to her. One of her last achievements was the inclusion of the church in the National Register of Historic Places.
“She was very active and wanted to live to 100,” said Wiggin. “She had a lot to do.”
As town historian, Spurway requested that memorial contributions be made to the Bedford Historical Society for the Stevens-Buswell Community Center Project. Send donations to Bedford Historical Society, 24 N. Amherst Road, Bedford, NH 03110. Specify S-B Community Center Project on the check.
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