Girl Scouts Dedicate Bench to Rita Ferris
In 2016, a carved stone bench was dedicated to former leader, (and mother of 7 Girl Scouts!), Rita Ferris. The bench sits in front of the Girl Scout house on Burr Road and is inscribed with the organization’s mission—Courage, Character, Confidence. It is a fitting memorial to Rita Ferris, a woman who raised seven daughters, overcame any number of obstacles, and still found time to share her enthusiasm for scouting with so many.
Rita was born in 1917 to Irish immigrant parents. She grew up in the city, first Roxbury, then Dorchester—a world of streets, subways, and multi-family homes. On hot summer days, she and her siblings took the trolley to South Boston to swim. Outside of that, she never had an opportunity to do the things that girls do today—go to summer camp, take long hikes, go skiing, and travel. So when Girl Scouting offered her daughters those opportunities, she became a volunteer, a leader, and a lifelong advocate.
Rita came to Hingham in 1942 when she married a town boy, Oliver Ferris. In addition to falling in love with him, she fell in love with the town where she would live for more than 60 years. And in all that time, she never lost her appreciation for its natural beauty, its beaches and woodlands. She loved the town’s history, the old houses and, especially, she loved the Girl Scout House, a symbol of how important it is to support our girls.
And talk about courage! Rita went to driving school and got her license for the first time when she was 57 years old. She took up tap dancing in her seventies. She joined the high school inter-generational group and made young friends. She spent untold hours volunteering for the South Shore Hospital Stroke Club. She babysat for neighbors. She served dinners to homeless women. She raised money for innumerable causes, donating handmade crafts to fairs and going door to door to solicit funds. Her great good nature and genuine interest in others made everyone a friend.
In later years when she lived alone, a highlight of autumn was the visit of the local Brownie troop who came to rake her leaves. She was so excited that she waited for them by the kitchen window long before they were due to arrive, hot chocolate and cookies ready. And that is another lesson Rita learned and taught, how to receive as well as to give, and that giving and receiving are both gifts.
How Rita would have loved to know that one day, a gaggle of giggling girls would crowd onto this particular bench while they waited for a ride home or that, one fall afternoon, a solitary girl might sit there waiting for her friends to arrive.
It couldn’t be a more perfect memorial for Rita, a woman of generosity who shared so much of herself with others.
Rita’s seven daughters, 1956.
Rita soon after she her marriage, circa 1943.
Rita in Ireland near the homeland of her mother and father, 2003.
Rita's family at the 2016 bench dedication.