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.