Holderness School

A House Fit for Retirement

Emily Magnus
Joseph Michael Hayes spends most days washing dishes in Weld. Scrubbing pots and mopping the floor, he is an indispensable part of the kitchen crew. For the better part of five decades, his presence in Weld has been as constant as the Red Schoolhouse on the Quad. Never cross or upset, Joseph has not only served consistently but he has served with kindness and a positive attitude as well.
Holderness isn’t the first place to benefit from Joseph’s work ethic and dedication. After two years of active duty in the US Army, Joseph joined the National Guard in 1972, where he became a field artillery specialist. In 2005, he was honored by the Guard for a record unequalled in its own long history: the fewest duty days missed over a 33-year career.

Now in his 70s, Joseph is set to retire, to put away his gloves and hang up his apron one last time. But first, he needs a home fit for retirement. A warm hearth, free from drafts; a place to cook a warm meal and wait out the fierce New England winters. And while Joseph owns such a place, it does need renovating. So it is with a great sense of respect and honor that members of the Holderness community are joining together to make it happen.

Starting last spring, under the leadership and supervision of Holderness Chaplain Rich Weymouth ’70, the Holderness community began pitching in to help prepare Joseph’s house for retirement. On weekends and some weekdays, crews of students arrived by microbuses to paint floors and exterior clapboards. They cut back the brush around the foundation and dug out the cellar hole.

“The kids have been just fantastic,” says Rich. “We’re doing what we’re most able to do—the unskilled labor.”

Rich has also reached out to the greater community, asking builders to donate their time for more difficult tasks. Take Van Adriance for example, whose two daughters and all four of his grandchildren have attended Holderness. Van, who is a retired carpenter, did not hesitate when Rich reached out to him and asked for a hand. With jacks and come-alongs, Van leveled the barn and pulled the walls straight, preparing it for another crew of workers who will re-shingle the roof in the spring.

Plenty of others in the community have offered their help as well. Steve Rand ’62 of Rands Hardware provided Rich with floor sanders rent-free, while Ashland Lumber contributed many of the materials Rich needed during construction this fall. Dave Bourne donated a load of pea stone for basement drainage, while Cindy Foster P ’08 of the Squam Lake Marketplace is saving furniture and other household items with which to furnish the home when construction is complete. The Sharp Brothers, Alex Ray, Ben Bullard, Gary Cripps P ’87 ’90 ’94, Matt Nassar, Tom Fleischmann, and Tyler Weymouth ’01 also offered council throughout the fall.

“People come by and they want to help,” says Rich. “They see Joseph as a member of their family.”

While many of the simple tasks have been completed by students, there is still a lot of work to do that will require skilled tradesmen. The house needs new windows as well as new wiring, plumbing, and insulation. In addition, Rich says Joseph’s house also needs a new hot water tank, a kitchen range, and a walk-in shower.

“It’s a big project,” says Rich, “but I think it’s winnable.” Undeterred by the many obstacles ahead, Rich is determined to make Joseph’s house a home.

In addition to Rich’s impressive commitment to this project, however, community involvement will continue to be important; Rich will need all our help. If people have any items they are interested in donating, please contact Rich Weymouth at rweymouth@holderness.org or (603)545-2690. Charitable gifts can also be made to Holderness School and earmarked for the JMH Fund.

Dark green paint cracks and peels from Joseph’s front door, and the window is dirty with cobwebs and decades of dirt. But hanging from the door is an Army badge, shining through the grime. Let’s make this house worthy of a man who served both our country and our school. Please help however you are able to make sure Joseph retires in comfort.
Holderness School
33 Chapel Lane, Holderness NH, 03245
mail P.O Box 1879 Plymouth, NH 03264-1879
phone (603) 536-1257