Serving Boscawen with modesty and grace, Roger Sanborn gets the spotlight

Edward Cherian Jr., the chair of Boscawen’s Zoning Board of Adjustment, thanks Roger Sanborn, who was honored at Town Meeting on March 12 with a standing ovation.

Edward Cherian Jr., the chair of Boscawen’s Zoning Board of Adjustment, thanks Roger Sanborn, who was honored at Town Meeting on March 12 with a standing ovation. Courtesy Sarah Gerlack


Monitor staff

Published: 03-24-2024 7:51 PM

A proclamation read at the Boscawen Town Meeting last week, celebrating a man’s selfless acts dating back four and five decades, could not be announced quickly to voters on Election Day.

Roger Sanborn, 76, had simply done too much. So wrote Elaine Clow, the president of the Boscawen Historical Society, whose words in the Annual Town Report painted a clear picture.

“On most any town board, when something comes up that needs to be done, the common phrase is, ‘Let’s ask Roger,’ ” Clow wrote. “Being the generous and good-natured guy that he is, he says yes. This list doesn’t begin to cover all the things he has done behind the scenes and with little fanfare or recognition. He is certainly worthy of this.”

Worthy enough, to be singled out at the meeting for his volunteer contributions and called a “favorite son,” smiling from his wheelchair near the front of the meeting hall as townspeople walked over to pat his shoulder. He’s also more than worthy to be recognized as one of the Monitor’s Hometown Heroes.

Sanborn has had health issues recently and was not available to comment on his years of altruism. But others had plenty to say.

Select board member Lorrie Carey shared a spot on the select board with Sanborn for three years and said he often served as a peacemaker.

“He’s always been a generous person to everyone and is the type who does not like controversy,” Carey said. “He wants everyone to get along. He’s always looking to find a way to bring all people together.”

An official proclamation from Gov. Chris Sununu was read at the meeting.

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Sanborn worked with the 4H organization. A farmer, he provided food to the community. He was a firefighter in town for 38 years. He planted 100 trees on local streets in honor of America’s bicentennial. He helped create local summer youth programs. He served five terms on the select board. He served on the Old Home Day Committee. He plowed the fields at Boscawen Community Gardens as a member of the Boscawen Agricultural Committee. He entered his draft horses into the annual Old Home Day parade.

“We were so happy to give him that night at the meeting,” Carey said.

Sanborn was also recognized with a dedication in the Boscawen Town Report which, along with the official proclamation, included a long list of his volunteer work and contributions.

Carey recalled his final day as a select board member four years ago, when he showed that he was well ahead of his time for a man born in the late 1940s.

“He voted to change the terminology ‘Board of Selectmen’ to ‘Selectboard’ to acknowledge the change in those who were serving the town of Boscawen,” Carey said. “I served with him in 2009-12 and was a ‘Selectman,’ but when we served again together in 2019-2020, he voted to make the change. We were then referred to as a ‘Selectboard.’ ”

On Carey’s birthday four years ago, the last time the two worked together on the select board, Sanborn gave his friend and colleague a treat: apple pie and vanilla ice cream from Richardson’s Farm.

“That’s his favorite,” Carey said.

That won’t change, but Sanborn’s public service appears to be coming to an end, which is why his town honored him at the meeting last week. His term as agricultural commissioner expires this month, and his spot on the zoning board of adjustment ends in September. His wife, Adele, who could not be reached for comment, completes her term on the economic development committee in June.

But whether serving in an official capacity or not, Sanborn looks to give. In fact, last year, at the start of Old Home Day festivities, Sanborn hosted a draft horse event at his home, providing fun and a learning experience at the same time.

“That hands-on approach for kids is important for a positive type of educational experience,” Carey said. “He could take center stage, but he was not one to take center stage. He helped in quiet ways.”