Jean Boardman, “Crew Grandma”
Harry and Jean Boardman first came to Marlboro for the music festival in the 1960s. But they stayed for the Whetstone Inn, which they bought as a so-called “retirement” occupation in 1979. As the genial innkeeper for the last 35 years, on her own since Harry’s death in 2009, Jean Boardman has contributed to the college community in countless ways.
“My involvement with the college started the first winter, when we took in some parents visiting their daughter, a student” says Jean, sitting in the dining room of the Whetstone in her signature colorful floral dress. “She came to breakfast, and in the course of our conversation Harry said, do you want a job for the summer?” Patty Pedreira ’83 was their first student employee, soon to be followed by many others. Last summer that included Tommy Arsenault ’16, ’16, Mairead Delaney ’14, Robyn Manning Samuels ’14, Jon Notwick ’12, and Lynn Mahoney Rowan ’08, who grew up in Marlboro and has worked at the Whetstone since she was in ninth grade.
In addition to employing a sizeable fraction of the student body, Jean has welcomed parents, outside evaluators, trustees, and potential faculty coming to Marlboro for interviews over the decades. She hosted incoming president Paul LeBlanc, who memorably stormed into the dining room during breakfast and exclaimed that there was no hot water in his shower (the knob was hidden by the shower curtain). She has even housed students on occasion, most recently Vietnam veteran and retired pilot Chuck Pillette ’13.
“And of course there was Luis Batlle, who became a professor at the college in the early ’80s after years of involvement with the Marlboro Music Festival,” says Jean. “Luis was living in Guilford, a single father trying to negotiate four teenage kids. Two of them were at the high school in Brattleboro, but Luis Jr. and Liza lived here at the inn for their first winter at the college. So I had a lot of experience with them as students, and saw a lot of Luis.”
Jean has made many other personal connections with faculty, but perhaps her most significant support to academic programs has been through Movies from Marlboro, professor Jay Craven’s semester-long film intensive. For two semesters, spring 2012 and 2014, Jean housed most of the staff working on the films, and in 2012 the Whetstone became one of the shooting locations for the film Northern Borders.
“Everyone really loves Jean,” says Willow O’Feral ’07, who was on staff for both semesters of Movies from Marlboro. “She is like the Crew Grandma.”
“We filmed at the Whetstone for nearly a month,” says Jay. “A dozen cast and crew lived there, and we took over her largest room to store and alter a hundred costumes. I called the inn Whetstone Studios. In all of my years of filmmaking I’ve never had a community connection as fully supportive and engaged with all we were trying to do.”