Spotlight on Service: Honoring Edna English and Her Decades of Devotion to the Town of Hingham

By Kristen Arute, Updated: May 22, 2020

Photo of Edna English, Courtesy of Laura Marwill

On Wednesday night, the Library Board of Trustees regretfully accepted the resignation of long-time member, Edna English capping off decades of her faithful service to the Town of Hingham.

"It is difficult for me to imagine this Board without Edna English on it," said Chair David J. Mehegan. "Over my years as Chairman and Trustee, I could always count on her gentle and sensible counsel and her fail-safe judgment."  Edna had served as a Library Trustee for 25 years having first been appointed by the Board of Selectmen in 1995.  "She is honest and true, principled, and stands up for what she believes without ever being mean or disrespectful to anyone," David continued. "We are going to miss her greatly on this Board and may not see the like of her again."

"As I retire from the Board, I thank you for letting me share this noble endeavor with you," said Edna. "The collegiality, absent of politics, to serve all segments of our population is a precious part of Hingham civic life." 

Edna and her husband Bill moved to Hingham in 1964.  They raised their five children here and are now proud grandparents to 11 grandchildren and delighted to be great-grandparents too.  Two of their children still live in Hingham, and their family has been known to have "boisterous ideological battles" which have occasionally spilled out onto Town Meeting floor.  Through it all, Edna's children have cherished her lifelong guidance on how to disagree with one another respectfully.  "It is fundamental that mothers are our first teachers," said son Sturt English. "Growing up with Edna was full of lessons on the classics, philosophy and history, topics on which she is widely read and deeply invested as she believes they contribute to our success and happiness as a society and as individuals.  This taught us to value principles over personalities."

"I know that she does not seek public recognition, but it must have warmed her heart to hear the outpouring of warmth and appreciation expressed by her friends and colleagues on the Board," said daughter Laura Marwill. "Mom's years of public service reflect her deep respect for the tradition of community engagement and self-government in Hingham, and her appreciation of how that has made Hingham such a special place."  The Library in particular is so important to Edna for the simple fact that a vast amount of information is available to everyone so that people can become fully informed on any topic they choose.  "Respecting all opinions without prejudice," said Sturt.


Along with serving on the Library Board, Edna was a member of the School Committee for 16 years and served two terms on the Board of Selectmen.  When she was elected in 1988, she was only the second woman to ever hold a Selectman seat in Hingham.  Edna also had the distinct honor of being named Citizen of the Year in 1997. ​ However, her significant intellectual contributions only tell part of the story.  "Mom’s gracious attitude provides an example of warmth, civility and respect for others: qualities of high value in public servants and private citizens alike," said Laura. "The Town of Hingham has been enriched by her service."

Kristen Arute can be reached at kristen@hinghamcurrent.com.