TOWNSEND -- Edna (Allsop) Burnham is the most recent in a long line of honored residents -- the oldest person in town.
In 1909, Townsend was one of 700 towns in New England to receive a cane from the now-defunct Boston Post newspaper. The cane was for the use of the oldest citizen.
Townsend is one of the towns that still has its cane more than a century later. It will be presented to Burnham at a ceremony in the near future.
Burnham, born Nov. 3, 1915, in Springfield, is a popular volunteer at the senior center. She checks people in for the senior lunches, greeting each by name and often sharing a laugh.
Living in a four-generation family gives her the flexibility and support to continue doing things she enjoys.
"I have the most wonderful backup," she said.
She moved to town in 1985 to live with daughter Carol Schonak and her family after her husband, Charles F. Burnham, died.
The household grew to accommodate another generation. Burnham's granddaughter, Jill Burdick, and her husband built a multi-room addition to the house for themselves and their two children, Nicole and Devin.
Burnham no longer drives, but said that is not a problem; four other people in the house have a license.
Other types of travel were more to her liking.
The couple had no problem following some advice they received early on. "His mother always said go while you're able," Burnham said.
They traveled together to Egypt, Thailand and
"Oh, yeah, we flew. I like flying," she said.
"Egypt was interesting. We went through all the tombs and pyramids," Burnham said.
Another trip stands out in her mind. The Burnhams traveled "all the U.S. by train," she said.
Her husband, who worked in the pension department at Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company in Springfield, loved to plan trips.
She worked at the Springfield Institution for Savings 27 years, saving up her extra days off for travel. Over the course of her career she rose from a clerk to a supervisor
Volunteering has long been an important part of life for the mother of two, Carol and Robert.
"I've always been an outgoing person," she said.
In Springfield, she was a Brownie leader and volunteered at the library.
After she moved to town, she visited the Townsend Senior Center in search of a cribbage game.
Now she is a valued volunteer at the center.
The date and time of the ceremony to present the Boston Post Cane to Burnham will be announced soon, said Council on Aging Director Chris Clish.