FARMINGTON, Maine — Ninety-nine-year-old Anne-Marie Veilleux sat at a table surrounded by family, friends and peers as she was presented with a replica of the Town of Jay’s Boston Post Cane.
She is Jay’s oldest citizen who now lives at Pinewood Terrace in Farmington.
Jay Town Manager Ruth Cushman and Selectmen Steve McCourt and Pearl Cook presented her with a cane, a certificate and a pin to recognize her seniority in the community. Cook pinned the pin on Veilleux’s shirt, which read Town of Jay Boston Post Cane recipient.
State Rep. Paul Gilbert, D-Jay, also gave a presentation and honored her with a Legislature Sentiment marking the occasion.
Veilleux’s daughter, Theresa Howatt of Jay, and Veilleux’s son, Ray of Florida, also talked about their mother, who came to the U.S. from Canada in 1947 with her late husband.
Veilleux has three children, 10 grandchildren, 19 great-grandchildren and five great-great-grandchildren, Howatt said.
“It’s unbelievable,” Anne-Marie Veilleux said after that ceremony. One reason she has lived to nearly 100 is because she never lets anything bother her, she said.
Howatt said her parents bought Emery’s Esso, which was located at the bottom of the hill, across from Community Way that leads to Spruce Mountain middle and high schools, on Main Street in Jay. It used to be where the former McAllister Accounting office was, Howatt said.
Her mother was born Jan. 4, 1914, in Canada.
Her parents operated the convenience store and gas station seven days a week from 6 a.m. to midnight, she said.
They invested everything they had to open the store and had $400 left, Howatt said. Her father went to the bank and they wouldn’t loan them any money, she said.
Her parents made the business flourish without the bank, and when the bank came knocking with an offer to loan them money, they said no, she said.
Ray Veilleux added that there was a moonshine still in the cellar of the building when they bought it.
That drew some laughs from those gathered.
Their mother took an active role in the business and when people tooted their horn she would come out to make sure they were accommodated, Howatt said.
She talked about the fresh donuts and candy they sold. She said it was a hangout place for the schoolchildren until their parents picked them up.
She always had a big German Shepherd with her and that saved her parents several times, preventing them from being robbed, she said.
“They worked hard all of their lives,” Howatt said, adding that her mother is a very devoted Catholic.