Honored Citizen Phebe Ham Staff photo by Betsy Levinson

Phebe Ham is Concord’s Honored Citizen

By Betsy Levinson betsy@theconcordbridge.org
March 3, 2023

The Concord Public Ceremonies and Celebrations Committee (CPCCC) has announced that longtime Concord resident Phebe Ham has been selected as this year’s Honored Citizen.

“There was an unusual number of high-quality nominees this year,” said committee Chair Sue McCrory. “Phebe was chosen based on a lifetime of varied service to the Town of Concord, as well as her enduring commitment to making the Concord experience better for the people who live here.”

Ham said she was surprised and thrilled by the designation.

“You never go around thinking you will be the Honored Citizen,” said Ham, 90. “I certainly didn’t expect it after all these years.” 

Ham will be formally recognized as Concord’s newest Honored Citizen on Sunday, March 19 at 2 p.m. at the Town House. The Public Ceremonies and Celebrations Committee cordially invites members of the public to attend this annual ceremony.

 “Emerson and Thoreau would tip their hat to her.”

Brian Rosborough

A tireless activist, Ham sponsored 27 articles at Town Meetings over the years, with 21 passing, including a 1976 article calling for the appropriation of $12,000 for the Housing Authority to find sites for low income and elderly housing. It was opposed by the Selectmen, the Finance Committee and the Housing Authority. 

In 1976, she ran the unsuccessful selectman campaign of Carl Velleca, at the time an inmate at the Northeast Correctional Center in Concord.

Ham grew up in Concord in the first house on Musterfield Road. It was torn down, after which Ham built a small cabin in the adjacent lot. That too was torn down, and in its place is a plaque recognizing Ham’s presence on the land.

She attended the Peter Bulkeley School, going on to Concord Academy and graduating from Radcliffe College. She was an English teacher, who spent seven years in China instructing students, some of whom have kept in touch over the decades.

Her list of admirers is extensive. In 2013, Brian Rosborough wrote to a weekly publication supporting her nomination for Honored Citizen. 

“We observed her struggles with town government as she focused on what she believed was best for Concord,” Rosborough penned. “She was always well prepared, graceful in victory and defeat, a public educator who was unafraid to speak her mind.”

“Phebe was genuinely surprised by the news; she called this a great honor,” said CPCCC member Nancy Crowley.

“It’s a nice place if you can afford it,” Ham said. “It has such a long history, and I love knowing that Emerson and Thoreau lived here, or walking around Walden Pond, which isn’t really a pond.”

Rosborough noted in 2013, “Emerson and Thoreau would tip their hat to her.”