PEPPERELL — Peter Derek TenBroeck Jr. moved to town from Framingham 17 years ago. Although his family name isn’t one of those intertwined with the history of the community, his selection as the grand marshall of the Fourth of July parade elevates his status to one of those who is indeed of Pepperell.
Perhaps that’s because TenBroeck is present whenever something is taking place that affects the direction of the community, someone is recognized for his or her involvement or when someone far away from the limelight needs a little help.
Known by many as the unofficial “mayor of Pepperell,” TenBroeck was humbled at being selected by the Fourth of July Committee to lead the parade.
“I felt that you had to be in town as long as someone like John McNabb before you were considered,” he said. “It is the Jim Dunns, the John McNabbs and the Kim Spauldings, the original people of the town, that I look up to as friends and mentors and who should be chosen.
“The committee picked me, I guess, because of my involvement with the town.” said TenBroeck.
His name is on the rosters of the Pepperell Business Association, the Groton-Pepperell Rotary Club, as chairman of the Parks and Recreation Commission and as a youth soccer coach.
He is also known to young children as Derek the Great, the magician who visits them in the Peter Fitzpatrick School.
“I get to know the teachers and kids for a long time,” he said. “The magic act started when my kids first went to school.”
TenBroeck and his wife, Erin, have three children: Tyler, 13; Molly, 10; and Christopher, 6.
A graduate of Framingham North High School with a bachelors degree in marketing from New Hampshire College, he lived in Framingham for 24 years. He sold insurance for three years on his own before coming to the former McDuffie Insurance — now Brown and Brown — in 1989.
“It was quite a change to move from Framingham, the largest town in the United States, to a significantly smaller area, but it’s a community I’ve gotten to know in a short time,” said TenBroeck.
His son, Christopher, is the child seated on the small tractor pictured on the cover of the 2006 Men of Pepperell calendar. The photograph was taken in building inspector Kenneth West’s field beside his Prescott Street barn on a balmy, sun-filled summer afternoon. The scenario sticks in TenBroeck’s memory.
“That’s classic small town, and to me that picture was ‘the’ men of Pepperell,” he said. “The bottom line is I want to be involved in the community because that goes with my upbringing. I care about the town, and I don’t plan to leave.
“Almost everything that happens I enjoy,” he said. “The thing I like about Pepperell is the diversity, economically (and) demographically, and that is very important in bringing up kids. The town has a good school system.”
On Saturday, July 1, it will be Derek, Molly and Christopher in the parade Marshall’s vehicle throwing out candy to those watching.
“My wife and my son will walk the sideline. They want to watch. It’s going to be neat,” he said. “I was though, very taken aback at first and extremely humbled (when I was heard I was chosen) because someone else would have been more worthy.”