North Yarmouth resident Virginia deBree, 98, holds the Boston Post Cane as the town’s oldest resident. Sydney Richelieu / The Forecaster

At 98 years young, Virginia “Ginney” deBree is the oldest citizen of North Yarmouth and as of last week the official holder of the town’s Boston Post Cane.

“Not many people make it this far in life,” North Yarmouth Assistant Town Manager Debbie Allen Grover said as she presented the award.

When asked about the key to her longevity, deBree said it was people.

“It’s my family, and knowing a lot of nice people. I have a lot of wonderful neighbors, and everyone helps everyone out,” deBree said. “You can’t ask for anything else, at least I can’t.”

Assistant Town Manager Debbie Allen Grover presents the Boston Post Cane plaque to Ginney deBree April 29. Sydney Richelieu / The Forecaster

DeBree, who has been a North Yarmouth resident for almost 70 years, was born Feb. 1, 1925, in Portland. She graduated from Deering High School in 1943, married David deBree in 1948 and they had two sons. The family moved in 1956 to North Yarmouth, where she quickly made connections that have lasted a lifetime.

A dedicated pianist and organist, deBree has given music lessons to students continuously, even through the pandemic. She played at Greely High School graduations through her 70s and also regularly played at several churches in Portland.

A room full of deBree’s family and friends helped her celebrate her award April 27, cheering her on as she received a replica of the Boston Post Cane, a dozen roses, a plaque and two special pins from the town.

“Do I have to give these back?” deBree joked.

The Boston Post Cane award was created by the Boston Post newspaper in 1909, when the owner of the newspaper gifted gold-headed ebony canes to 431 towns. The canes were to be given to the oldest citizen in each town. While many of the original canes have been lost, the tradition continues throughout New England.

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