Continued from page 1

At church, Romney sat next to his wife, with grandchildren occupying the rest of the row. He sang along during the service’s three hymns, holding his iPad underneath his navy blue hymnal. Some of the kids — who range in age from a few weeks old to 16 years — grew restless during the long service. At different points, several walked over to receive a kind smile and quiet word from their grandfather. At one point, Romney took charge of a Ziploc bag of colored cereal, offering it to a grinning blond toddler.

As the first section of the service concluded, Romney and the congregation sang all the verses of “America the Beautiful,” a song he often quotes on the campaign trail. Many attendees departed while others prepared for the second portion of the service, a Sunday school for adults.

While church leaders moved to close partitions to prepare for the school, Romney chatted at length with others who had come to the service, including several who wore “Romney” pins on their lapels. And Ann Romney focused on figuring out who would stay for the second and third hours and who would head home with restless kids to start dinner.

“Ok, so, we’re just trying to figure out the cars,” Ann Romney said to one of her daughters-in-law as the first section of the service ended, another about to begin. “I want to stay for the second hour.” So did her husband.

Romney has been visiting Wolfeboro for decades, first coming here with his father, George Romney, to visit the J.W. Marriott family. The Marriott family played a significant role in building the Mormon church in Wolfeboro several decades ago.

The branch president, Matthew Jensen, said there are now more than 60 Marriott family members who will appear in Wolfeboro — and at church — sometime in the summer. They haven’t arrived yet, so the Romneys have the largest contingent.

“We see them every year,” Jensen said of the Romneys, noting that their presence swells the size of the congregation. He said that even though Romney is a likely presidential nominee, they fit into the congregation the way any other family would. And the town is still quiet enough that his Secret Service contingent isn’t too disruptive as the family drives the few miles to the church from the Romney vacation home on the other side of town.

No matter the outcome of the election, it won’t be the same next year.