Bill Rotch turns 100
When longtime residents hear the name Bill Rotch, they think Milford Cabinet, the paper owned by his family for more than 200 years. He came to the Cabinet in 1938 to work with his father, Arthur Rotch. Except for the four years he spent in the Navy during W o r l d War II, he was publisher and editor, and Involved to some degree until his retirement. He moved to Rivermead Community in Peterborough in 1996. He will turn 100 on Monday, March 28. In 2002, on the occasion of The Cabinet’s 200th birthday, when he was semi-retired, William Boylston Rotch wrote what he called "an anecdotal history" of his family’s involvement with the paper. The paper was founded in Amherst in 1802 by Joseph Cushing as The Farmers Cabinet. His printer was Richard Boylston, Rotch’s greatgreat- great-grandfather.
In 1908, Cushing told Boylston "there was some trouble at the bank and that he should be out of town by morning." Boylston bought the paper using all the funds he had.
Cushing apparently never said where he got the name, but it was kept. It is thought "Cabinet" was used because it refers to a place where a variety of things are collected and stored.
The paper was continued by Edward Boylston, who hired Arthur A. Rotch as a printer, handyman and apprentice.
In 1869, Rotch married Helen Boylston and eventually took over the paper.
He was succeeded by his son William in 1898. He moved the paper to Milford, where it combined the The Farmers’ Cabinet, Milford Advocate and Wilton Journal into one publication.
He was joined by his son Arthur in 1910, who was followed by his son William in 1938.
After his return from World War II, Bill Rotch oversaw many changes in his business and the newspaper industry as a whole.
Until 1950, it was also a print shop, producing local books, including town reports for the surrounding towns, as well as posters, brochures, tickets and much more.
Printing changed from hand-set type to linotype to off-set and finally to computers.
In 1994, Rotch’s daughter Martha and her husband, Frank Manley, purchased the paper.
Bill Rotch was an editor and publisher. He and his late wife, Patty, were involved in many civic aspects of the town, including Rotary and other service organizations. She was much involved with the Girl Scout program. The paper was sold to The Telegraph in 2005.
Lyndeborough stone mason "Bud" McEntee said he got involved when Rotch decided to put an addition on the former school he had purchased for the business.
"They debated whether it should be brick like the school or something different, to make it obvious it was an addition. We veneered it with textured cement instead of brick," McEntee said.
He also recalled Arthur Rotch had an insurance company that was later taken over by Rotch’s brother-in-law, Bill Ferguson.
All in all, McEntee said, "He was a good fella, a good editor."
Rotch’s editorials were known for their bluntness, but also for fairness. He tended to tell it as he saw it, for the good of the town.
He was also known for his dry wit. In an editorial, he mentioned "the corner of the Oval." Asked how an oval could have a corner, he said, "That’s easy. The town square is a triangle."
In 2015, Rotch was presented Peterborough’s Boston Post Cane, recognizing him as the town’s oldest resident.
Rotch’s 100th birthday will be observed privately.