‘Senior of the Year’ returned to city she loves | Local News

‘Senior of the Year’ returned to city she loves | Local News


BEVERLY — When Nancy Bourque moved from Beverly to Ohio after getting married in 1970, she missed her hometown, especially the ocean.

“This is where I’d come on my vacation,” she said.

Bourque eventually came back to Beverly for good in 1993. And judging by the honor she received on Friday, the city is glad she did.

The Beverly Council on Aging named Bourque its 2021 Senior of the Year during Senior Day at Lynch Park. In a ceremony under a big tent next to the ocean she missed so much, Bourque sat in a folding chair by the stage as a long list of officials presented her with proclamations and praised her community spirit and dedication to serving others.

Bourque appreciated all the accolades but, in an interview after the ceremony, said, “It’s embarrassing, really, because you don’t do this kind of thing (for that reason).”

Bourque, 72, grew up on Ashton Street and graduated from Beverly High School in 1967 and from the former Beverly Hospital School of Practical Nursing in 1968. She moved to her husband’s native Ohio and raised two children.

Bourque eventually returned to Beverly to help out her children, who were then in college, and take care of her aging mother. She moved back to the house where she was raised and worked as a nurse in nursing homes and at the Children’s Center for Communication (the former Beverly School for the Deaf) before retiring in 2015.

Bourque was caring for an elderly woman and taking her to the Beverly Senior Center when she realized that she enjoyed the visits as well. She began going to the Senior Center on her own and volunteering there. 

“I loved going to the movies and watching the dances,” she said. “There’s a lot to do. My mother would never go to the Senior Center. It was for the ‘old folks’. That’s where ‘old people’ went. I think people need to look around. ‘Old’ has changed. It gives you something to do. You make new friends and continue doing the things you love to do.”

As a volunteer at the Senior Center, Bourque has picked up breakfast items at a local bakery, helped seniors learn to use technology, served as a photographer for special events, prepared the monthly newsletter for mailings, and served as a greeter and hostess for activities. Since 2019, she has volunteered to drive older adults to doctor’s appointments. That role was especially critical during the pandemic, Council on Aging Executive Director MaryAnn Holak said.

Holak said people who nominated Bourque for Senior of the Year described her as “reliable, enthusiastic, caring, compassionate and willing to give her time freely to help others.”

“This volunteer always says ‘yes’ when we asked for her help,” Holak said.

Among the officials who recognized Bourque were Congressman Seth Moulton; Secretary of State William Galvin; representatives of state Sen. Joan Lovely; state Rep. Jerry Parisella; Mayor Mike Cahill; City Councilors Julie Flowers, Stacey Ames and Kathleen Feldman; Essex County Sheriff’s Department Assistant Superintendent Maurice Pratt; and Senior Care Executive Director Scott Trenti.

Cahill declared the day “Nancy Bourque Day.”

At the start of the ceremony, Bourque was surprised by family members who traveled from Ohio, including her daughter and son-in-law, three grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, and two nephews.

Dana Hendershot, Bourque’s daughter, said her mother still hops in the car and makes the 10-hour drive to Ohio for key family events. But Beverly, she said, is her mother’s home.

“It always has been,” Hendershot said. “It is where she is happy.”

Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2535, by email at pleighton@salemnews.com, or on Twitter at @heardinbeverly.

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