Force behind Milford Town Hall renovation dies

About 15 years ago, Martha McLane Rotch and Marilyn Kenison took a trip to St. Louis to accept national awards for their work on renovating Milford Town Hall and its auditorium.

What Kenison remembers most about the trip was that Patty, as she was known to everyone, wanted to go out right away and visit museums and historic spots.

“That was Patty. I was ready for rest and relaxation,” said Kenison. “She was always curious and always wanted to learn more. I consider her one of my mentors.”

The wife of longtime Milford Cabinet publisher William Rotch, Patty Rotch died Oct. 21 at the age of 93. She is survived by her husband and four children.

During a memorial service Monday morning at Church of Our Saviour in Milford, family and friends remembered Rotch as one who lived the commandment to “love thy neighbor as thy self.”

New Hampshire Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson was there and said he had known her for more than 30 years. He called her “a person who lets the light shine through.”

“God has been on the porch, looking down the road for Patty,” he said, referring to the Bible story of the prodigal son. “We know what kind of joy she brought to us. Our loss is heaven’s gain.”

A key part of The Cabinet’s work force for many years, Patty Rotch also raised five children and was an active participant in Milford’s community life as a Girl Scout leader and longtime school board member.

She had a deep love of local history and when, in the late 1980s, the Milford Town Hall was found to need major renovations, she became part of the drive to preserve the building.

Rotch became chairwoman of the subcommittee to renovate the Town Hall auditorium, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation gave her the award in St. Louis for her work. In 1990, the family celebrated Bill and Patty Rotch’s 50th wedding anniversary in the unfinished auditorium, with gifts designated for the restoration project.

Andrea Galligher, the town’s first Main Street program director, said the work of Patty Rotch and other volunteers in saving Town Hall was “the catalyst that turned Milford around.”

At The Cabinet, Bill was the writer and filled the paper with news and commentary, while Patty was drawn to more technical work and served as bookkeeper, advertising director, proofreader and typesetter.

In a 2002 interview for The Cabinet, during the paper’s 200th anniversary year, she called herself “mechanically inclined, a problem-solver. I might be the ad salesman one week, the bookkeeper the next, and then help carry papers to the post office.”

She especially loved the technology side of newspapers and, with the late Ed Curtis, established The Cabinet’s printing museum in 1990.

She served on the Milford School Board for nine years and during that time the town built the Jacques School and the high school on West Street.

A Girl Scout for more than 70 years, she started the Milford troop in 1946, served as troop leader and once took three Scouts backpacking in Europe. She was also instrumental in acquiring Camp Anne Jackson in Wilton for the Girl Scouts and served as the camp’s director.

She also helped acquire the large riverside area in Milford that became Keyes Field.