Bristol officials presented Carrol Voss, 98, with the Boston Post Cane at his home overlooking the ocean on Sunday, March 11.
Voss was presented with Bristol’s original Boston Post Cane by the Bristol Board of Selectmen, and enjoyed cake and refreshments with members of the Bristol Historical Society and his daughter and son-in-law, Jo Ellen and Paul Abraham.
The gathering featured a rendition of “When Irish Eyes are Smiling,” sung by a green-clad Selectman Paul Yates in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. Yates also presented Voss with a plaque distinguishing him as Bristol’s oldest resident.
Voss, who was born in China to missionary parents and raised his four children in Gettysburg, Penn., moved to Bristol in 1969.
His careers included being an entomologist, owning a helicopter business specializing in agricultural work called Agrotors, and using his knowledge of insects as a consultant for the World Health Organization in Africa and India, studying problems such as sand fly infestations. He was a stateside flight instructor with the U.S. Navy during World War II.
Evidence of his travels and business can be seen in Voss’ home, where the walls are covered in art, newspaper clippings, photographs, and artifacts from abroad.
The publisher of the now-defunct Boston Post, Edwin Grozier, gifted canes to hundreds of New England towns with instructions to present the cane, with the newspaper’s compliments, to the eldest male resident of the town.
The cane dates to 1890, and is made of ebony with a gold head.
The man could use the cane as long as he lived, or until he moved to another town, when the cane would be passed down to the next eldest male resident. Women became eligible for the cane in 1930.
While the Boston Post no longer publishes, the tradition of the cane lives on in many New England towns.