In Oct. 2011, Thurman Town Board members including Becky Hitchcock (center) work on drafting the 2012 town budget after a year of unprecedented financial pressures. Hitchcock, who died May 25, has been credited with bringing a moderate approach and cohesive influence to town politics during challenging times. Hitchcock is flanked by board members Leon Galusha (left) and Al Vasak (right).
Thurman Town Board member Rebecca “Becky” Hitchcock passed away unexpectedly Friday May 25 — and in the following days, local citizens recalled Hitchcock’s unsurpassed community spirit, dedication to others, and her various volunteer activities that brightened the lives of area residents.
All are welcome to attend calling hours from 3 to 6 p.m. Tuesday May 29 at Alexander Funeral Home on Main St. in Warrensburg. A memorial service follows at 6 p.m in the funeral home, with Rev. David Newkirk officiating.
Thurman Supervisor Evelyn Wood said Hitchcock had in recent years undertaken a wide variety of volunteer activities — including organizing the major events held in town, whether it was the Christmas Baskets Charity, the Jackwax Party anti-cancer fundraiser, the town’s beloved Easter, Halloween and Christmas parties for families, as well as helping conduct the Thurman Food Pantry.
“Becky was deeply involved in the community,” Wood said. “This is an enormous loss for the town of Thurman.”
Wood said that as each community event or charity lost a key leader in the last year and a half, Hitchcock had volunteered to keep these vital community traditions alive, and make them flourish.
“Whenever anything was needed, she was always ready to step up and lend a hand,” Wood said, recalling how Hitchcock, her husband Bob, plus Myrna Keeler personally stuffed 800 plastic eggs with goodies for children attending the town’s 2012 Easter party and egg hunt.
“She was so deeply involved in everything, and she had a real knack at organizing things,” Wood added.
This year’s Thurman Jackwax Party, which raises money for the American Cancer Society, had new features and robust receipts this year, as it carried on a treasured local 80-year tradition under Hitchcock's leadership. After the event, Hitchcock characteristically deferred credit to other volunteers and area citizens for their generosity.
Lifelong friend Charlotte Needham spoke May 29 of Hitchcock’s modesty.
“Becky never looked to be in headlines, she’d just do things because she wanted to,” Needham said.
Wood said that Hitchcock had a deep concern for others in need, which was expressed through not only the town Christmas Basket program, but the town food pantry. Wood said Hitchcock spent many hours helping ordering food and stocking the pantry.
“Becky was very, very concerned about those in town that needed food — and through her work, she took the food pantry to another level,” Wood said. “Becky was involved in everything, and yet she responded even if I called her at the last minute for extra help.”
Hitchcock’s additional activities included organizing the local Defensive Driving courses. Wood also noted that Hitchcock took her political post seriously, attending various training courses to sharpen her knowledge of public policy.
“She was deeply interested in doing her job and doing it well,” Wood said.
Hitchcock was appointed to the town board in August 2010, and she was not challenged in a subsequent election. She has been credited with bringing a moderate approach and A collaborative influence to town politics during challenging times.
A source in town government said the board would likely soon be appointing someone to fill out Hitchcock’s term.
Wood said it was too early to even think about such an issue.
“Our goal now is to get the Hitchcock family through this,” she said.
A memorial reception is to be held Tuesday evening at the Thurman Town Hall in Athol in honor of Hitchcock, immediately following her funeral at 6 p.m. May 29.
Town offices will be closed beginning at noon that day in a gesture of remembrance, and sotown employees can attend the calling hours and services.
Charlotte Needham paused as she reflected on Hitchcock’s deep and permanent impact on the fabric of life in Thurman.
“Becky was an all-around good person — She’d do anything to help anybody,” Needham said. “Becky really loved life.”