Lois Fullerton helped raise 170 children.

That’s right — 170.

Throughout her 30 years running the Fullerton Family Day Care at her home in Haverhill, the city where she was born and raised, she touched the lives of 170 infants and toddlers, changing their diapers, teaching them manners and helping to shape the people they would eventually become.

Fullerton closed the doors to her day care for the final time on June 15. And a day later, her family, friends, many parents and children who had been under her care over the years, attended a surprise retirement party in her honor. She received a citation from the mayor’s office for her 30 years as a child care provider, as well as an award from her friends and family.

Accredited by the National Association for Family Childcare Providers, Fullerton’s approach with her day care was to teach the children and the parents, making for a secure and safe educational environment for both. Her day care was also remembered as a children’s paradise.

“Her house is like a theme park, filled with toys, games, books, puzzles, and a yard that looks like the most fun place you could be,” wrote her son, Christian Fullerton.

The world was quite different back in 1978, when Fullerton first opened her day care. A gallon of gas cost $0.63, “Taxi” and “Laverne and Shirley” were television favorites, and she had four young children with her husband Alan Fullerton Sr.

But as the calendar pages flew by, Lois Fullerton remained constant. She was awake at 5:30 every morning, smiling and eager to see the children. At any given time, Fullerton cared for six children at her home on Highland Avenue, ranging in age from one week to 6 years old.

She even got to have her three grandsons, Jack O’Hara, 5, Jacob Fullerton, 2, and John Fullerton, 1, in her day care. Two granddaughters are expected in August.

Her philosophy on learning has always been “take your own sweet time,” and after 30 years, Fullerton will finally get a chance to feel what that means. Right after her retirement party, she went up to her family’s vacation home on Deer Island in New Brunswick, Canada.

She spoke with The Haverhill Gazette:

Age: 61

Education: Wheelock College early childhood education major, master’s credits; Bradford College, bachelor of arts, magna cum laude, in human studies and psychology; Haverhill High Class of 1963 (the last class to attend HHS when it was still in the building that is now City Hall); Sacred Hearts elementary.

Community involvement: Sacred Hearts Parish, Bradford College Alumnae Association, Haverhill Victor Emmanuel Lodge Sons of Italy, Greater Haverhill Family Childcare Association president for 20 years, and American Civil Liberties Union member.

What do you like most about your job? Seeing a child’s eyes when his or her mind has just grasped an idea. I like, too, that my work enables me to support and educate parents about baby- and child-development stages.

What do you like least? My 11-hour day is long for all involved.

Favorite place in Haverhill? The library.

Least favorite? Downtown. I wish they could remove the bus station and put a park back there for a family-friendly city.

Family? Father, Louis Sapareto, emigrated from Italy in the early 1900s and raised his family on South Spring Street in Bradford. Mother, Annie DiVincenzo, was born and raised on River Street. For years, Louis Sapareto owned and operated a shoe factory in what is now the Phoenix building in downtown Haverhill. Married to Alan Fullerton Sr.; they have four children, Cate, Christian, Charlotte and Alan Jr.

Favorite actress: Bette Davis

Favorite actor: Alec Baldwin

Favorite film: “Heidi”

Kind of music: Gregorian chant music sung by a female choir, hauntingly repetitive and soothing.

Favorite book: John Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Wrath”

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