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Careers through the years; She hasn't done it all, but almost.

Byline: Mairgread Gray

OXFORD - It's often said that a cat has nine lives. For Grace Fenton Proctor, that adage could be adapted to read "nine careers." The 90-year-old Oxford resident is currently on her sixth or seventh - and she shows no signs of slowing down.

Mrs. Proctor, who celebrated her birthday on Dec. 13 with family and friends at the Oxford United Methodist Church, is still energetic and spunky. Recently, she sat straight and alert in the comfortable kitchen in her Main Street home as she reminisced about life before and after moving to Oxford 62 years ago.

Born in her family's farmhouse at Richfield, N.Y., she grew up on the farm during the Great Depression.

"I did not pluck chickens or milk cows. Mother didn't want my fingers to get big and muscular," Mrs. Proctor said with a smile. She was used to raising produce on the 200-acre dairy farm. The family, which included a brother seven years her senior, also tapped trees for maple syrup in the spring.

In 1935, Mrs. Proctor graduated from the House of Good Shepherd, a hospital home and pediatric nursing school in Utica, N.Y. She was 19 years old. Her reason for that career choice: "I loved to take care of children, I guess."

After graduation, Mrs. Proctor went to Colgate University in Hamilton, N.Y., to care for the daughter of the dean of school athletics. She served as the private-duty pediatric nurse for the child, whose mother had died. While at Colgate, Mrs. Proctor met her future husband, Nathan H. Proctor, at the local roller skating rink.

Mr. Proctor went on to law school at Boston University, graduating in 1942. Mrs. Proctor remained in New York until the couple married in 1943. Two years later, in 1945, the Proctors moved to Oxford, where they raised two children: a son, Charles F. Proctor of Oxford, and a daughter, Carol Stone, who lives in Vermont..

For a while, Mrs. Proctor stayed home with her children and ran a part-time day-care service out of her house. Then her career path took yet another turn:

"When Nathan and I moved to Oxford, my friend Ethlyn Cook - she was Rev. Oscar Cook's wife, he was the rector of the Methodist Church at that time - she asked me if I'd like to work at the Joslin Insurance Co. as a clerk, and I said yes. I had never done anything like that before, but it didn't take me long to learn how," she said.

Mrs. Proctor soon found herself helping out, both at the insurance company and at her husband's law practice.

"I did all the telephoning for my husband - he couldn't hear. He lost his hearing completely in 1955; he had been partially deaf ever since he was a child. He had scarlet fever as a toddler," Mrs. Proctor said. Mr. Proctor died in 2002.

As she became further involved in the law practice, Mrs. Proctor became a paralegal as well. In fact, she became the head paralegal at the Proctor Law Office.

The law practice would lead Mrs. Proctor down yet another route in her career path. Mr. Proctor's law practice involved real estate and probate and he also worked at a title company in Worcester. Taking her interest in real estate and turning it into a business outlet seemed a natural project for Mrs. Proctor. In 2000, she co-founded Fenton Properties Inc. with her son, Charles.

At 90, Mrs. Proctor still drives. Every day, she cuts foreclosure notices and real estate transactions out of the daily newspapers. Occasionally, she will call to see if someone is interested in selling a house. As administrator, she attends all the Fenton Properties' staff meetings with the five agents, and Charles, who is the broker. Mrs. Proctor said with a laugh, "Oh, that is only a title - I don't do that much."

To what does she attribute longevity? "No smoking, no drinking. To live, I take good care of myself. If I had a problem, I went right to the doctor and took care of it. And, I don't watch TV too late at night." She also cooks and bakes, and enjoys watching television. She is very active in the Methodist Church and is the treasurer of the Memorial Fund.

Mrs. Proctor said she also takes a nap once in a great while - but she doesn't nap every afternoon.

She can't. She's too busy working.

ART: PHOTO

CUTLINE: Oxford's Grace F. Proctor, 90, has worked on the farm, in health care, child care and several office professions.

PHOTOG: COURTESY PHOTO
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Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Feb 11, 2007
Words:764
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