WAKEFIELD — A few months ago, The Wakefield Independence Day Committee reached out to the community in search of the best people in town to be honored as Grand Marshal in 2023. We received some amazing responses and trust me when I say that it was a very difficult decision to choose the winner.

The WIDC is excited to announce that the Grand Marshals of the 76th Wakefield 4th of July Parade are Bob and Merry Eldridge!

Bob and Merry were both born at Melrose-Wakefield Hospital, grew up in Greenwood and raised their family there. They have been active volunteers and contributed to numerous Wakefield organizations for decades. It’s hard to know where to begin with their contributions to the town. Bob has been on the board of The Scholarship Foundation of Wakefield for over 40 years and served as President for two years. Merry was a Director and President for two terms of the Col. James Hartshorne House Association for almost 40 years. Soon after Bob retired in 2001, they founded the local mentoring program Wakefield Adult Mentors (WAM) and served until 2017 when WAM merged with Big Brothers Big Sisters. Bob has been a member of Wakefield Alliance Against Violence (WAAV) since its inception in 2006 and served as President for many terms; while Merry became a member as Treasurer in 2016. They are both still very active members.

Merry’s parents grew up in Wakefield and graduated Wakefield High School. Bob’s mother grew up in Greenwood and graduated Wakefield High School, as well. Bob’s father grew up in Reading and graduated Reading High School. When asked about how they met, we were told that Bob was always around Merry’s house, as he was her brother, Dave’s, best friend. Merry was always Dave’s “little sister” until graduation, when all of a sudden, “she became more.” They have been married for over 60 years! Merry and Bob have a son, Mark; a daughter-in-law, Kathleen; a daughter, Pamela; and son-in-law, Rob. They have four grandchildren, Madeline and John Eldridge and Aaron and Cassandra Lucci. All four grandchildren graduated from college and are now working. They told us they have had a grand time with their grandchildren and have many great memories providing daycare from many years ago.

When asked about their favorite part of volunteering over the years they said, “the great people you get to meet and the good feeling of helping and giving back. And we would have to say we always made it a fun activity.” Merry’s favorite volunteer activity has been completing a half-marathon fundraiser for Team-in-Training (TNT – which trained in Wakefield) in 2009 at age 68; where they raised money for melanoma/lymphoma research. Merry raised the most money in the Northeast ($8,000), in memory of her dear friend and classmate, Bonnie Hupprich McLean. Her favorite partner, Bob, was there to meet her and help her climb the last two hills. Bob’s favorite activities have been helping with paper drives and running yard sales to raise money for different charities. He has also been a part of a singing group (The Senior Tones) and sang for many different senior centers and nursing homes. He said, “getting the audience to join in on the singing was a “hoot.””

They also shared some Wakefield 4th of July Parade memories. Merry loved going to the parade and seeing family members or friends marching, especially if it was her kids or grandchildren and Bob especially remembers feeling very proud when he saw his father marching with the World War II veterans.

Lastly, they have no plans to leave Wakefield and don’t plan on slowing down any time soon! “We love this town and the home we live in, plus we have many friends and acquaintances in town. Wakefield fills all our needs in so many ways. Why would we leave? At our “tender” age we have no plans to re-locate or “downsize.” Why would we ever leave this life-long town? We plan to stay involved in community efforts as long as we can.”

We are excited to be honoring two great community members who have gone above and beyond to support our community. Be sure to congratulate Bob and Merry if you see them and thank them for all they have done to make Wakefield the wonderful home that it is!