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Groveton loses centenarian and friend

Groveton’s oldest resident, Rex York, poses here on the celebration of his 100th birthday in 2008. File photo. (click for larger version)
October 20, 2010
GROVETON — Rex York, Northumberland's oldest resident and holder of the town's Boston Post Cane for 16 years, died last Thursday, October 14. He was less than two weeks shy of his 102 birthday.

Mr. York was remembered as a man with remarkable stamina, pin-point precision and devotion to his family and his home town.

A native son, Mr. York was born in 1908 on the farm across from his long-time home on Village Road. He graduated from Groveton High School in 1927 and then from Bridgeport (Conn.) Vocational School, where he trained to be an electrician. He married a local woman, Hattie (Gray) York, and they left only briefly to work during World War Two at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. They had two daughters and were married for 74 years.

Dave Miles, who worked with Mr. York in recent year setting up tables and chairs for the Groveton senior meal site, marveled at his friend's strength and stamina. On one occasion, he remembers Mr. York beating him up a ladder to change a burned-out light bulb. Mr. Miles quickly learned that working with Mr. York would be an exacting affair. "He was very particular and very meticulous." Each table, Mr. Miles said, had to be line up with each window and the middle tables would have to match up as well and if they were off by two inches Mr. York would move them.

Becky Craggy, who works at the Groveton municipal offices, remembers back when the town had their offices in a second story location, Mr. York made it a point to walk up the stairs rather than using the mechanical lift. "His mind was sharp and," she said, "(he was) physically so strong."

Despite his advancing age, Mr. York remained very active caring for his wife, Hattie, who eventually moved to Country Village Nursing Home, in Lancaster. Remarkably, he continued to drive until his death. Mr. Miles noted that he was "so proud that he passed the test" that aged drivers are required to take. Possibly, he was one of the nation's oldest men to hold a driver's license. A 101 year-old Tallahassee, Florida woman was widely reported to be the oldest driver in the nation in 2008 when she renewed her license in 2008.

Two years ago, his community threw him a 100th birthday party. Executive Councilor Ray Burton was there and he fondly recalls that day. "Rex York," he said, "was a classic rural business, community individual, who gave a lot to the town of Groveton and the North Country. He contributed many outstanding acts and deeds of kindness."

In recent months, Mr. York moved to Holton Point Retirement Community in Lancaster to be closer to his wife, who was at the nursing home nearby. Mr. York's wake will be on Thursday afternoon and his funeral on Friday at 1 p.m. See Mr. York's full obituary on page A2 for details.

Littleton Chmber
Varney Smith
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