LITCHFIELD — Patricia Jewett has been a constant in local politics for six decades, starting out in various trustee positions and eventually being elected the town’s first female selectman.
Jewett is saying farewell to her position on the board, a decision she said tugs at her heart and did not come lightly.
“I cried like a baby when I wrote my resignation, but I knew that I had to do it,” Jewett said Wednesday. “I have been in the hospital five times in four months, and I can no longer drive at night. I feel bad that I have to retire, but I feel that I can’t do what I want to do right now.”
Jewett, 85, recently handed in her resignation to the board effective March 11, town election day.
“I really wanted to finish the last year of my (three-year) term, but I think doing it this way is fair. Voters should be able to choose my replacement,” she said.
Jewett, a retired special education teacher, has served on almost every board in town since moving here in 1950. She has served as town treasurer, welfare director and about 16 years on the school board. She was a member of the Nashua Regional Planning Commission for 15 years, and has been active with the town’s conservation, farmland and budget committees.
Jewett, of Jeff Lane, has been a selectman for about 27 years.
“I started politics in 1952,” she said, explaining some of her first positions were library trustee and town trustee.
Jewett said her health is taking a toll, and her abilities are limited. “I intend to help out still, but I just won’t take the leadership,” said an emotional Jewett, who is optimistic that someone younger but just as passionate about taking care of the students and the elderly will be interested in seeking her position in the March election.
In a statement about Jewett’s resignation, town officials described her as an institution in Litchfield.
“Beyond the regular meetings and responsibilities of the job, she has spent countless hours assisting those in our community who are less fortunate,” says the release, posted on the town’s website. “ … We will miss the benefits of Pat’s experience and her reminders to our consciences. For many residents, Pat was their direct connection to local government. When they had a question or concern, she was the first person they called. Pat Jewett has epitomized service to our community.”
Jewett has been instrumental in organizing care packages for local service members deployed overseas, creating an annual town cleanup day and frequently collecting winter clothes for needy children.
Perhaps one of her most cherished projects, she said, was helping to collect new backpacks for area children.
“Nobody likes to go back to school without a new backpack,” she said. “These are the small things that make Litchfield so special. This is what our small town is all about. I have learned that you get more out of life when you volunteer.”
With Jewett’s resignation, there will now be one selectman seat with a one-year term, and two selectmen seats with three-year terms on the March ballot.