Jaffrey-Rindge Lions re-induct last remaining original member

  • Jim Van Campen pins a membership pin for the Jaffrey-Rindge Lions Club onto Reynold Belletete of Jaffrey, who was a charter member when the club first formed in 1952. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Jim Van Campen pins a membership pin for the Jaffrey-Rindge Lions Club onto Reynold Belletete of Jaffrey, who was a charter member when the club first formed in 1952. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Jim Van Campen pins a membership pin for the Jaffrey-Rindge Lions Club onto Reynold Belletete of Jaffrey, who was a charter member when the club first formed in 1952. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 6/4/2019 10:19:06 AM

The Jaffrey-Rindge Lions Club honored its roots on Thursday by inducting the last remaining member of the original club as an honorary member.

At his home on Main Street in Jaffrey, Reynold A. Belletete received a Lions Club pin and a copy of the organization’s original charter, dated May 28, 1952, with his name included.

“We’re honored to have you as an honorary member,” Club President Diane Phillips said, as the club’s former president Jim Van Campen presented Belletete with a pin emblazoned with a view of the Jaffrey Meetinghouse.

“And you’re all paid up. You don’t have to worry about the dues,” assured Club Director Phil Cournoyer jokingly.

“That’s the best part,” Belletete agreed with a grin.

The list of the charter members of the Jaffrey Lions Club is a veritable Who’s Who of 1952 Jaffrey.

“Bean, Wade, Stearns, Moore, Abbott – these were and are prominent names in Jaffrey, Cournoyer said. And among those names – perhaps most recognizable – is Reynold A. Belletete.

The Lions Club is a national organization dedicated to service. Like many Lions Clubs around the country, the Jaffrey-Rindge Club specializes in assisting people with vision problems, by giving eye screenings, collecting used eyeglasses for re-distribution, and assisting residents with paying for glasses, exams or needed eyesight treatments.

The club was disbanded in 2012 due to a lack of membership and restarted in 2015. Last year, the club officially reached enough membership to be re-chartered.

Belletete, now 99, is the last living member of the 32 members who originally chartered the Jaffrey Lions Club. His name is perhaps most recognizable as the chain of hardware stores in New Hampshire and Massachusetts – a business started by his father, and which Belletete ran as the CEO for many years, and is now run by his son and Jaffrey Selectman Jack Belletete.

Belletete’s Jaffrey ties run deep. Born in 1919, when home births were common, he was born at his home on Christian Court, only a few blocks from the current location of his family’s store.

Belletete graduated from Conant High School, and worked at his father’s store – then a general store more than a hardware store – until he was drafted into the Air Force during World War II. He spent the war interviewing civilians from captured territory to gain intelligence from them, and returned home to Jaffrey in November of 1945.

When he returned, he married his fiancee, Charlotte Egan, in 1947.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.


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