Richards retires from Mason Select Board

MASON — For 23 years, Anne “Nancy” Richards has served as a voice for the people on the town Select Board. But after more than two decades of service, she decided not to run for reelection this year.

“I thought it was time to retire and time to let someone younger pick up the reins and do the job,” said Richards of her retirement in an interview Wednesday.

The gap left by Richards has been filled by Bernard O’Grady, but other members of the Select Board said Richards’ retirement from the Select Board doesn’t mean she is done with service to the town.

“I don’t think we’ll be missing her much, because I’m sure she’s not going anywhere,” laughed Pete McGinnity, the Select Board chair. “She’s been very active in town for a number of years, and I don’t doubt she’ll continue to be.”

Richards has been a key force in her years on the Select Board in helping to maintain the rural character of the town, McGinnity said, and making sure that Mason stays a small town where people are eager to settle down and raise their children. She’s also done stints on the Planning Board and Board of Assessment. She’s given water dousing lessons to residents during Old Home Day, and as recently as last summer she climbed on some local roofs to help with metal patching as a member of the Fire Department.

“I’ve always been an individual that liked to be busy,” said Richards in an interview Wednesday. I started off with Brownies as a little girl, and been busy ever since.”

In addition to her work on municipal boards, Richards has also been active in other town organizations, including the local Boy Scout Troop as well as the Mason Congregational Church. She’s also a longtime member of the Mason Fire Department since joining in 1979. Now in her 80s, she remains a member, working in the radio room and doing light duties at the fire station.

“She’s got her fingers in everything,” said McGinnity. “She’s got more energy than me. She’s just a civic minded lady — very giving of herself and doesn’t ask for much in return.”

Town Moderator Catherine Schwenk, a friend of Richards’, agreed that Richards has always been willing to give of herself.

“As a selectman she’s been there through the school’s withdrawal from Mascenic and solving multiple issues with the roads,” said Schwenk. “And there have been many other issues that have been resolved, and resolved to everyone’s satisfaction, thanks to her efficiency. They were really big and controversial issues, and she handled them very diplomatically, and I think she’s the one that really came forward as a leader.” And Richards is who you want on your side protecting the town’s interests, Schwenk noted, because in addition to being an efficient leader, she’s also a determined person that works until she gets her way. “As a little girl, there were three things Nancy wanted to do when she grew up,” Schwenk said. “She wanted to be in the service, she wanted to be a physical therapist and she wanted to be a firefighter. She’s managed to do all of those things. She’s just a remarkable individual.”

Richards is more blase about her contributions to the town, noting that she was simply there to represent the people. “We just tried to keep things running smoothly, follow the RSAs and answer people’s questions the best we could,” she said of her time on the board. “We work together as a team to answer the needs of the people.”

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or She’s on Twitter at @AshleySaari.

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