Wheelock Terrace resident receives Boston Post Cane honorApril 01. 2018 9:43PM
HANOVER — A long life is certainly something to celebrate, and that usually involves birthday cake and balloons. But for Fred Phillips, a resident of Wheelock Terrace Assisted Living, this year’s birthday festivities included the presentation of the Boston Post Cane, a New England tradition.
Phillips received the honor for being the oldest resident of Lyme. After celebrating his 103rd birthday in January, he was presented a certificate recognizing him as the official holder of the cane by Lyme Selectman Rusty Keith and Police Chief Shaun O’Keefe. The surprise presentation was particularly meaningful for Phillips because O’Keefe was once in the Boy Scout troop he led.
The gold-headed, ebony canes were given to New England towns, including Lyme in 1909, by the Boston Post newspaper with the request that they be given to each town’s most senior resident. The original Lyme cane is on display in the town offices.
“I was very surprised to receive such an honor. After all, it’s not every day you’re rewarded for getting older,” Phillips said. “It’s an honor to now be a part of the Boston Post Cane legacy, and it means a lot to know that my story will live on through this recognition.
“I’ve been very blessed to live a long, happy life and look forward to seeing what’s ahead. In my wildest dreams, I could have never imagined the events and advancements of the last century, let alone believe that I would live to be 103. I’m not sure what I’ve done to deserve the many blessings of my life, but I’m thankful for each and every one,” he said.
Phillips was born Jan. 18, 1915, in Pennsylvania. He excelled in the classroom and was determined to pursue a career in aeronautical engineering. This passion led him to New York University for his bachelor’s degree and to Massachusetts Institute of Technology for a master’s degree. His career began during the middle of World War II while working for a company designing and building bombers for the military.
“From a young age, I knew I wanted to have a career in aviation,” he said. “My career allowed my childhood dreams to come true, and I had the opportunity to live and work in remarkable places.”
“Looking back on history,” he said, “in my opinion flight is possibly one of the most impressive advancements in technology we have experienced. It helped shape how the world connects and set precedents in how technology continues to advance today.”
When asked about his secret to a long life, Phillips laughs and simply credits luck, as he’s enjoyed good health for most of his life and never picked up any bad habits. While he may not be able to pass along the secret to longevity, Phillips hopes to impart the importance of education for younger generations. He believes that with a good education, you can go anywhere, be anything you want to be, and most important, be better equipped to help others.
Melissa Suckling, Wheelock Terrace executive director, says the community is lucky to have Phillips as a member. “We are thrilled to celebrate this achievement with him,” she said. “When he was presented with the certificate announcing him as the Boston Post Cane recipient, nothing could beat the ear-to-ear grin on his face. Fred is truly an incredible individual and always brings a lot of joy to our community.”