Bradley resident receives ‘Spirit of America Foundation Tribute’ for community service
BRADLEY, Maine — Long-time Bradley resident Ann Delaware has had a life worth envying.
The 81-year-old is somewhat of a rockstar to the small community where she’s lived for 55 years, and she still dedicates most of her time to helping others.
On Wednesday June 24, as Delaware was getting ready to take part in the seniors exercise group — which she inspired — Town Manager Melissa Doane and members of the town council surprised her with the “Spirit of America Foundation Tribute” for her continued service to Bradley.
Each year, municipalities across Maine voluntarily choose one person or group from their own communities to honor for their commitment to volunteerism. The award has a nearly 30-year track record in Maine, when it was first started around 1990 as a way to recognize outstanding people.
This is the second time the town of Bradley has given out the award — last year it was dedicated to the local fire department — making Delaware the first individual to receive it in the town’s history.
Town officials presented her with a recognition plaque on Wednesday and Town Manager Melissa Doane made the announcement public via Facebook and included it in the annual report.
“If you have Ann Delaware in your corner, you will never lose a battle,” Doane wrote in the report. “I, like so many of you, are so lucky to have her in my life. She is an unstoppable force and an amazing inspiration to all women, mothers, grandmothers and friends.”
“Mrs. Ann Delaware is my rock star. I only hope I can have half the energy she has when I’m in her age group,” she said.
Delaware has spent much of her life giving back to the community. In her younger years, she and a friend regularly volunteered at St. Joseph Hospital in Bangor, and dressed up as clowns to cheer up sick patients.
Originally from Ellsworth, Delaware has become an established member of the Bradley community. Each month she coordinates the Senior’s Luncheon — which she started when a friend of hers, a widower, mentioned he was eating his meals alone.
Often, she drops by the Viola Rand Elementary School to visit with the children and shares stories and pictures of Bradley from years past.
“Anything that goes on in Bradley she’s got her hands in,” Doane said. “She just sees a need and tries her best to fulfill it.”
While most people her age are settled comfortably into retirement, Delaware isn’t one to slow down.
In fact, she picked up even more hobbies and volunteer projects to fill her days after losing her husband, Ed, to Alzheimer’s seven years ago. Before the pandemic, Delaware was also working part time at the Bradley Town Office, where she made friends and stayed connected with the community.
Despite all of the activities she leads, Delaware still finds time for herself. She enjoys quilting in her free time — and she’s already finished a handful of quilting projects while isolated at home.
Her love for the small community is palpable — even while away visiting family out of state, she’s eager to return home.
When she was in her early 60s, she and Ed set out for a seven-month-long trek across the United States in their motorhome.
The couple made their way down the East Coast, stopping to visit family in Florida, Texas and California, until finally reaching Alaska. On the way back, Delaware said they stopped to get gas in Vermont or another state nearby.
While Ed was pumping gas, she went inside the store to pay. The cashier — noticing the Maine license plates — asked about their cross-country travels. “What was the best place you saw?” he posed.
“I said Bradley, Maine, 04411,” Delaware replied.