Justin Morrill, a leader in higher education, might be the most famous person from Strafford, but Hazel Lewis is the most loved.
"She's the mortar that keeps this community together. She is!" resident Lianne Thomashow said.
Hazel is engaged in every aspect of the community, from volunteering at the senior center to getting dirty on Green Up Day. The 90-year-old rarely stops.
Reporter Joe Carroll: So you do a lot of walking still?
Hazel Lewis: Not as much as I should!
On most days, you'll find her at the Strafford Post Office.
"Actually people say I live here!" Hazel said.
"Oh, Hazel's here every day!" said Terry Toy, the postmaster.
"This is where I sit when I do my knitting," Hazel said.
She greets everyone like they're family.
Hazel is so well-loved and respected in town that they had a birthday bash over Memorial Day weekend, but she didn't want presents.
"They say the whole town came to the party!" Hazel said.
Over 400 people came to celebrate Hazel's 90th birthday.
"No I didn't want presents," she said. "I felt I didn't need anything. I didn't want that."
She asked that money instead be donated to a local food shelf and something near and dear to her, the Strafford Town House. Built in 1799 and now used for town meeting, the building lacks adequate bathrooms. Over $3,000 was raised for those two causes.
"She is the queen of the village, she is the queen," Thomashow said.
"I don't feel that way," Hazel said.
"Yes, you are!" Thomashow insisted.
The queen came from modest beginnings. She was born in nearby Corinth and was taught in a one-room school house. She met her future husband, Delwin, in high school and eventually ended up in Strafford, where they raised two boys.
"He was a farmer, excellent farmer! And also a heavy equipment operator," Hazel said.
He passed away 11 years ago.
"I do miss him," Hazel said. "I miss him a lot."
But in this Orange County community, she has an extended family.
"And he asked me if I'd be his grandmother, because his grandmother lived so far away. So, I've been his grandmother!" Hazel said of an "adopted" grandson in the community.
She buys present for town kids and sends letters to congratulate and console the folks in this tightknit town.
"I couldn't be happier here," she said.
Hazel's been a teacher's aide and a house cleaner.
"The princess of the village, how's that?!" one resident said.
It proves that you don't have to be from true royalty to be regal.
"I think I'm just plain me, just what I am," Hazel said.
An honest and caring woman, who keeps this community together.
PO Box 4508