Phil Winter presented with Boston Post Cane by Brookline Historical Society

BROOKLINE – At the Nov. 4 Brookline Selectboard meeting, Phil Winter was officially recognized as the oldest resident in town and presented with the Boston Post Cane.

Winter turned 97 the day before the meeting. When presenting the cane, Dave Fessenden, president of the Brookline Historical Society, explained the tradition, which dates to 1909. As an attempt to boost circulation, the Boston Post newspaper distributed 431 gold-handled canes to towns in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maine and Rhode Island to be awarded to the oldest resident. The current cane is a replica, with the original one believed to have been lost in a fire in the 1950s.

Marcia Farwell read a brief account of Winter’s life. Born in Chevy Chase, Md., Winters graduated from high school and teacher’s college in Washington, D.C. He served in the Navy and was at Pearl Harbor when it was bombed. He spent 20 years in the Navy Reserves and rose to the rank of captain. He and his first wife raised their seven children in Washington Grove, Md., living in a house he built by hand, which is still occupied by his oldest daughter.

Winter and his wife, Ann, moved to Brookline in 1972, and he served as one of the town’s first responders. He gave tennis lessons and taught math and physics for a semester at Milford Area High School. He also served as the town assessor. Ann Winter died in 1988 and is buried in Washington National Cemetery.

Farwell said that when Winter had a minor stroke a few years ago, he called the ambulance himself, but luckily recovered enough to move back home. The room erupted in laughter as she recounted how he stopped by when he was 90 to show off his new car: a standard transmission so he could pull his motor home. He still drives that car, but not at night.

“He is an example to all of us,” Farwell concluded. “Ever busy having served his country and community. It is with great pleasure that the Brookline Historical Society presents him with the Boston Post Cane.”

The cane presentation was ceremonial. Winter was given a lapel pin to keep, but after posing for photos, the cane was returned to the historical society for safekeeping.