Merrimack woman, 97, is town's latest Boston Post Cane recipient

Nellie Granger of Merrimack receives the Boston Post Cane last week, recognizing her as the oldest known Merrimack resident at the age of 97.

MERRIMACK — A 97-year-old woman is the new owner of Merrimack’s Boston Post Cane.

Nellie Granger, who has lived in town since 1951, received the prestigious recognition last week during a town council meeting.

Granger will now take on the tradition of representing the town as its oldest known resident. “She says the secret to a long life is just to keep busy, and that she has done,” said Finlay Rothhaus, town council chairman.

Granger was awarded a replica cane, certificate and lapel pin to celebrate the honor.

“Thank you very much,” Granger told the council. “It is beautiful.”

The search was on to find a new holder of the Boston Post Cane after its last owner, Carsten “Bud” Hahn, died in February at the age of 101.

Granger was born in Nashua in 1921, but her family lost its house in the great fire of 1930 in Nashua’s Crown Hill neighborhood, according to Rothhaus. Her family then moved to Haverhill, Mass., where the historic flooding of the Merrimack River took place in 1936 and forced them to move back to Nashua where Granger later graduated from high school in 1939.

She worked alongside other women during World War II in Nashua, and even survived being struck by lightning during one of her work shifts, said Rothhaus.

“But she fully recovered,” he joked.

Granger eventually married Guy Granger and had six children that they raised in Merrimack. The Granger family lost their Merrimack home to a fire in 2000, but rebuilt on the same property.

Her relatives, including some of her 13 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren, were present for Thursday’s ceremony, recognizing Granger as the oldest living resident in town.

The Boston Post Cane tradition started in 1909 when the Boston Post newspaper delivered the gold-headed ebony canes to 700 towns in New England, and requested the canes be presented to the oldest citizen in town and passed on to the next oldest when he or she dies.

To qualify as Merrimack’s oldest citizen, applicants must be local residents and have lived in town for at least 25 years. Prior recipients include Roy Ingerson, Madeline Bennett and Thomas Gouvalaris.

The original, gold-headed ebony Boston Post Cane given to Merrimack is currently on display at the town hall.