Lee-Ann Upham will lead the 2014 Thomaston 4th of July parade as the grand marshal.

In 1972, Lee-Ann came "home" to Thomaston to take care of her great-grandmother, and quickly fell in love with both the town and her future husband.

The connection between John Upham and Lee-Ann started at the Boston hospital, in which Lee-Ann was born. One of John’s aunts was a nurse in the maternity ward in the year which Lee-Ann was born. Later on, when Lee-Ann’s mother married John’s uncle, people started suggesting that Lee-Ann meet John. When Lee-Ann came to Thomaston in the spring of 1972, it was love at first sight. She fell in love with both John and the town. Lee-Ann and John were married later that same year, “I feel blessed to have been able to call Thomaston my home ever since.”

Right away, she joined her new mother-in-law, Gwen Robinson, in the business Wee Barn Antiques, which they would run out of Robinson’s barn for the next 35 years. Her new father-in-law, Raymond Robinson, was Santa for many years, and Lee-Ann has fond memories of helping him hand out presents. One special year that Lee-Ann remembers well was when a little boy who was not talking, actually talked to Santa for the first time. Everyone who witnessed it had a tear in their eye.

Lee-Ann’s first volunteer experience for the town was as co-chairman of the Christmas Tree Lighting committee with Joe Mayo. Originally, the lit trees went down both sides of Main Street from the Mall to the Thomaston Academy building. Her husband, John, eventually took the reins from Mayo and is still the driving force behind the tree lighting, although the trees are now confined to a display on the Mall.

Lee-Ann has also been involved in the Thomaston Area Chamber of Commerce, Thomaston Historical Society, Thomaston Business Council and many other town committees.

Growing up in Needham, Mass., Lee-Ann paid close attention to the example set by her grandfather as he served on town committees. When she was asked to join the newly formed Budget Committee in 1982, she jumped on board, and has been serving on various committees in Thomaston ever since. Most notably, she has been an elected member of the Board of Selectmen continuously since 1993, and has served as chairman several times.

The pollution control facility and cleaning up of the former prison site are a couple of projects with which Lee-Ann is most pleased. Updating sections of sidewalk every year and updating the network of sewer lines are not glamorous items, but they help keep Thomaston a lovely place to live.

In the early 1990s, Lee-Ann, John and a small group of like-minded people provided a free Thanksgiving dinner to people who might otherwise be alone on the holiday. That lasted a few years before fading out, but has now been resurrected by the Thomaston Random Acts of Kindness Committee, led by Prudy and Phil Netzorg. Lee-Ann is still actively involved in this wonderful project.

Lee-Ann is always looking ahead at new projects for the town, such as the proposed dog park, finding the right space for a municipal services complex (to free up the downtown spaces currently being occupied by the town office and police station), and building a large gazebo on the Thomaston Green. She is most looking forward to this last project, as she feels this would be a wonderful venue for bringing music to the town.

Health issues slowed her down for a while in 2013, but Lee-Ann is keeping up just fine with town business. She and John no longer attend the races at Lowden, N.H. Rather, they are keeping busy at home, maintaining beautiful flower gardens at their lovely house on a quiet side street in town. When they are out and about, they are usually accompanied by their beloved dog, Ditto.

The Thomaston 4th of July committee is proud and pleased to have Lee-Ann Upham represent Thomaston as the parade’s grand marshal for 2014. According to committee chairman Julie Russo, “Lee-Ann is a fantastic example of the people who make a difference every day in our community, as well as being a source of inspiration to me. I’m so happy for our town that she came ‘home’.”