Eloise Ruth Bickford
NEW DURHAM - Eloise Ruth Bickford, age 87, passed away peacefully at Wolfeboro Bay Center, on Wednesday, March 13, 2013, after declining several years due to multi-infarct dementia.
Eloise was born Dec. 28, 1925, in Stoneham, Mass. She was a 1943 graduate of Stoneham High School and a 1948 graduate of the US Cadet Nursing Corps at Symes Arlington School of Nursing. In New Durham she found both her first nursing job as summer camp nurse for Birch Hill Camps and her first and only love, George Everett Bickford, whom she married, January 22, 1949. Eloise also worked as a staff nurse at Frisbie Memorial Hospital medical - surgical floor, and later became the office nurse for 11 years for Robert E. Lord, M.D., Farmington.
While helping others as a nurse was Eloise's first calling, she was also called to serving her community. New Durham voters elected her as the town's first female Selectman serving from 1976 through 1983. She also served as the selectmen's representative to the Planning Board. The town honored her with another first when it appointed her as its official Historian in 1982, She also served as a Trustee of the Library from 1960-1980, as a Trustee of the Cemetery from 1987 through 1990, and as a Trustee of the Trust Funds. She served as the secretary for the New Durham Planning Board, Zoning Board of Adjustment and Conservation Commission for several years. Eloise was also a member of the board of directors of the Strafford County Rural Health Council and The Cancer Society representative for New Durham.
Mrs. Bickford also founded or co-founded and held office in the following organizations: President of the Fire Belles, Ladies Auxiliary of New Durham Fire Department, New Durham Friends of the Library. Founded and served as president of the New Durham Beautification Committee, the Restoration Association and the New Durham Historical Society. She was also a member of the New Durham Garden Club and New Durham Camera Club. She spearheaded many historical projects, such as mapping and restoring hundreds of graveyards in town, coordinating the restoration of the 1772 Town Meeting House, organizing the 1975-76 Bicentennial and the Archives & Historical Collection Committee to establish the Town Archives Department for which she organized and preserved historic town records dating from 1765 to 1900.
Eloise was a member of numerous county and state organizations. The NH Old Grave Yard Association, Strafford County Genealogical Society, NH Genealogy Society, NH Archives Association, the NH Historical Society and the NH Writers & Publishers Project. Eloise won awards for volunteerism from the NH Municipal Association, the New Durham Historical Society and shared New Durham's "Citizen of the Year" award with her husband, George Bickford.
Eloise was a newspaper correspondent writing the New Durham column from 1974-1996 for the Foster's Daily Democrat and the Granite State News. She also wrote many feature articles on the history of New Durham.
A woman of many interests, she played piano, painted, was an avid reader, a talented gardener, an accomplished seamstress, a wonderful writer and photographer.
In addition to her loving husband of 64 years George E. Bickford of New Durham, Eloise is survived by her daughter, Barbara J. Lamere and her husband Cole LaFrance of Center Barnstead, her sons David A. Bickford and his partner Carol of New Durham, Charles M. Bickford of New Durham and G. Thomas Bickford and his wife Delina of Wolfeboro. Her son Richard W. Bickford predeceased her in 1983. Her grandchildren include Chris Bickford, Kimberly Neusch, Kevin Lamere, Christina Thompson, Hilary Darcy, Jenifer Russell-Bickford, Aaron Bickford, Ezra Bickford, Autumn Bickford and Amelia Bickford. Two great-grandchildren, Riley and Allison Thompson.
Calling hours will be on Sunday, March 17, 2013 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Peaslee Funeral Home, 24 Central St., Farmington, N.H. Celebration of her life and sharing of memories will be at 6:30 p.m. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to New Durham Public Library, 2 Old Bay Road, New Durham, N.H. 03855 to maintain its Historical and Genealogical Collection created by Eloise or to the Richard Bickford Scholarship Fund in care of the New Durham Fire Department, 6 Main St., New Durham, N.H. 03855. To express condolences please visit: www.peasleefuneralhome.com
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