The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, July 4, 2008


Honored Citizen: Susan Emmons

Old Home Day is a special day for many of us – perhaps all of us. We pass up traveling to the Cape, the mountains or elsewhere, to spend the day here in Carlisle, with family, neighbors and friends. So today it’s quite  appropriate to recognize another one of Carlisle’s finest citizens, who not only exemplifies the spirit of the Honored Citizen Award: To make Carlisle a place that we proudly call home, but also counts Old Home Day as a very special day in her life. This year’s honoree is a woman with quiet grace and competence who seldom generates significant fanfare; she simply carries on – contributing in so many facets of Carlisle life, not looking for recognition, even avoiding it when possible, but clearly a leader, an educator, a giver: someone who  exemplifies the very fabric of our town. 

Our recipient moved to Carlisle in 1969 with her husband and two young  daughters. Like many, the small town charm, rural feel and quality schools brought her family here. I’m told that the very first town activity she attended was Old Home Day that year – and something must have resonated, for today she is attending Old Home Day for the 39th time. That day launched decades of volunteerism that continues to this day. 

Our winner is a naturalist, an artisan a teacher; and a leader. She often works in the background, out of the public eye, but always giving back  to her community. Beginning with the Mosquito – where she has been the business manager for over 2 decades – a leader and active member of the team of volunteers that faithfully keeps us informed of the goings on in Carlisle. 

At her church – the First Religious Society – where she has been treasurer, teacher and curator. For many years she’s faithfully overseen the finances of the church; she has both led and participated in the maintenance of the historic Unitarian church and grounds, She’s been an active religious education teacher to many Carlisle youth, including her own children and grandchildren. She has helped to organize the historic records and artifacts of the church, she has led the youth group in many ways – perhaps one of her favorites picking grapes and teaching the next generation to make  grape jelly as well as designing and making church banners – the most   recent of which is the church’s 250th anniversary banner which adorns the church today. 

In her town – Carlisle –she regularly takes on vital tasks with dedication and proficiency. In 1982 she mapped the trails at the Greenough land and created brochures for that property and other Town-owned lands. Also in the 1980s she conducted early studies of bird nesting patterns in Towle Field, determining the ideal cutting times so that we all may enjoy the beauty of that Carlisle landmark.   

She has co-written not one but two versions of the Carlisle’s Open Space and Recreation plan – in 1994 and again in 2000. She also finds time to participate in the Christmas Bird Count and in the 1970s was author of one of the earliest software programs designed to analyze trends in the bird populations.  

She has been an prolific giver to the youth of Carlisle, a mentor, a teacher sharing her love of crafts – spinning and dyeing yarns, recorder and music lessons and leading trips to the Concord Museum. She also led some of the early after-school computer classes teaching basic and logo and was often seen at Gleason Public Library assisting with their first computers.    

Her neighbor tells us “I have seen her dedication to maintaining and preserving the history of the town, preserving its open spaces, introducing others to the beauty of the natural world, maintaining the quality of our excellent community newspaper and by quiet example and encouragement, showing others how they can get involved.”   

Despite her desire to remain out of the limelight, she has been honored twice   before: In 1996 she was awarded the Carlisle Conservationist Award and in 2006 she was awarded the Massachusetts Commission of the Status of Women’s Unsung Heroine Award. Today, when not filling her days with many of these volunteer contributions, she and her husband enjoy their home on Baldwin Road and spending time with her three grown children and four grandchildren. By now it must be clear that our honoree is none other than Susan Emmons –   naturalist, artisan, teacher, mentor, curator, manager, leader and volunteer extrodinaire. It is a great honor and privilege to introduce Carlisle’s 2008   Most Honored Citizen….. Susan Emmons.   

© 2008 The Carlisle Mosquito