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A life of service began with Scouting

Man, 90, who earned Eagle Scout rank in 1937 went on to serve in World War II

Chet Soule of Peterborough at a ceremony in early April at which Scout Stephen Baird of Hancock earned Eagle Scout rank.
(Staff photo by Carole Allen)

Chet Soule of Peterborough at a ceremony in early April at which Scout Stephen Baird of Hancock earned Eagle Scout rank. (Staff photo by Carole Allen) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

PETERBOROUGH — Chet Soule’s been an Eagle Scout since 1937.

“I went to the first jamboree,” the 90-year-old Peterborough man said recently, shortly after he attended an Eagle Scout Court of Honor at the Peterborough Community Center. “People tell me I may be the oldest Eagle in the state, but I don’t know any way to find out.”

Scout officials are unable to determine who is the state’s oldest Eagle, since like Soule, many Eagles don’t remain actively involved in Scouting throughout their lives. But Soule said he’s confident of one thing: “I was definitely the oldest one at the ceremony,” he said.

Soule grew up in Portland, Maine, where he was active in Scouts and earned his Eagle badge. He attended Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., before going into the U.S. Army. He served in France and Germany during World War II.

“I was commissioned in antiaircraft,” Soule recalled. “Then I got involved with transportation and supply. In 1945, we were supplying the front lines. We did it all over the roads because all the railroads were broken. I had my own Jeep. I got a lot of practice driving.”

After the war, Soule went to work in marketing and sales in the food industry, first selling B&M beans, then working for the William Underwood Company after Underwood acquired B&M.

“I covered the whole country,” Soule said. “First I lived in Portland, then I moved to the Boston area.”

He moved to Greenfield in 1972, and after Pet Foods acquired Underwood in 1982, he started working out of an office at his home in Greenfield. He and his wife, Alice, moved to Peterborough in 1986.

Soule retired from Pet Foods many years ago, before the company was sold to Pillsbury, which was in turn sold to General Mills.

“Now I’m a retiree of General Mills,” he said. “They’ve been taking care of my supplementary insurance ever since. That’s why I eat Cheerios.”

Alice died in 2005 and Soule now lives alone in a unit at Colonial Square. He has a son living in Haverhill, Mass., a daughter in Costa Mesa, Calif., several grandchildren and one great-grandchild, with a second one the way.

“Apparently it’s going to be a boy,” he said.

Soule does his own cooking, still drives and volunteers regularly at Monadnock Community Hospital.

And while he didn’t stay active in Scouting throughout his life, he still has his Scout uniform.

“I wore my Boy Scout shirt to the ceremony,” he said. “I don’t fit in the pants anymore.”

Dave Anderson can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 233 or He’s on Twitter at @DaveAndersonMLT.

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