SURRY — It takes a team of dedicated volunteers and a strong woman leading them to rehabilitate a historic building that was in danger of being demolished less than five years ago.
The Surry Arbutus Grange April 30 honored Glyneta “Gete” Thomson with the Grange’s annual Community Service Award for her work renovating the Old Surry Village School building at 7 Toddy Pond Road.
Ida Reed, lecturer for the Grange, grew up with Gete “on the neck,” aka Newbury Neck in Surry, and presented Thomson with the award.
Reed said the vote for Gete to receive the honor was unanimous among the Grange members.
“She’s full of accomplishments,” Reed said.
Thomson worked as a teacher and served four terms in the New Hampshire House of Representatives before finding her way back home to Surry.
Thomson said when she found out she was getting the award she Googled “community service.”
“Volunteer to be active in your community,” was one definition, Thomson said.
“That’s been my main goal,” Thomson said. “I always wanted to get involved.”
“Heart to God and a hand to man — that has been my guiding focus,” she said.
Recalling a favorite church hymn, Thomson said, “Make me a blessing to others to somebody dear Lord.”
Thomson said the other definition of community service she found was “just helping out.”
“That’s what this group does, it helps out,” she said.
The former teacher thanked the Grange members for the award and for their support in the early stages of the school building rehabilitation.
Thomson said the public is invited to an open house at the former school building on June 8.
“Start thinking of things you want to do down there,” she said.
The goal of the Old Surry Village School Preservation Group is to preserve the building so that Surry residents may use it.
The building opened as Surry Village School on Dec. 19, 1872.
The schoolhouse educated Surry students for 80 years and was then used as the Surry firehouse for 30 years.
In early 2018, the town of Surry was considering demolishing the building before Thomson and her group urged the town to reconsider.
The Grange had a service award to present to former Selectman Wilbur Saunders, who was not at the meeting. Incidentally, Saunders had attended school at the former schoolhouse. Saunders had been valedictorian of his 1951 class.