HOMETOWN HEROES: Michael Rathbun serves community in retirement

Michael Rathbun

Michael Rathbun —COURTESY PHOTO

By BILL FONDA

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Published: 09-25-2023 2:35 PM

Michael Rathbun of Greenville wishes he had gotten involved in the community sooner.

“I find it interesting,” he said. “It’s volunteer work, and volunteer work is good. People should volunteer whenever they can.”

However, running his own business setting up cubicles in offices, followed by a stint at RiverStone Resources in Manchester, left him without the time to do so. But after retiring, Rathbun joined the Greenville Zoning Board of Adjustment and is also board chair for the Greenville Estates Tenants Cooperative, and it is for those efforts that he has been named the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript’s Hometown Hero for September.

Even if he doesn’t believe he deserves it.

“There are so many people who deserve something like this much, much more than I do,” he said.

Kristie Murphy felt otherwise, nominating her friend and fellow ZBA and Greenville Estates resident for the designation. Greenville Estates is a mobile-home community of 200 homes, and Murphy said Rathbun has been able to get things done – including getting quotes for tree removal in order to protect people’s homes, intervening to get a woman back to her home safely, helping deal with a rodent issue and organizing the board in general – while maintaining a sense of humor.

“He’s completely turned the park around,” said Murphy, the board’s secretary. “He’s a very fair person.”

Regarding the ZBA, Murphy said it can be difficult to say no to people, but Rathbun “does it in a way so that people are calm when he has to tell them.”

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Rathbun had a simple reason for joining the ZBA.

“There was an opening, and they needed somebody,” he said. “I had time and the town needed it. I thought it was time to do something for the town, and I thought I could manage it.”

He said his time on the board has been “enlightening” to see how rules are formed and maintained, and that he has cast votes that haven’t necessarily been popular.

“I’m there to represent the town, not myself,” he said. “You have to look at what’s best for the town.”

Rathbun, 70, has lived at Greenville Estates since 1981, and said he got involved about a year-and-a-half ago because “I wanted to get the park back to following the rules as they were written in the bylaws.” He called the co-op board a “vibrant being,” and said “it depends on how my health goes.”

He does plan on seeking another ZBA term.

“I’ll stay as long as needed,” he said. “It’s not the type of job people clamor to get.”

Each month, the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript will recognize one of our region’s many Hometown Heroes. Nominate a Hometown Hero at ledgertranscript.com/SpecialPages/Hometown-Heroes.