This year’s recipient moved to Washington in 1950 shortly after graduating from Cornell University in upstate New York. Almost immediately upon arrival in our community, our award winner took an active role in many of our local civic organizations.
One of these organizations is the Village Improvement Society. As probably most of you know and some of you experienced first hand, Washington was struck by a massively destructive flood in August of 1955, leaving much of the town in ruin. In the wake of this tragic event, the Village Improvement Society was one of the civic groups in town that took a leading role in organizing the townspeople to raise money for and to help plan the restoration of our beautiful village. Much of what you see today came from those planning sessions. Our recipient was very involved in raising money and awareness to help bring those plans to fruition. And 53 years on, this person still rarely miss a meeting or an event.
Another organization that this year’s award winner has been a part of since the tragic flood of 1955 is the Washington Green Cemetery. The previous secretary was looking to get out of Washington in the wake of the flood and asked our recipient to assume the duties of secretary for the cemetery, which they gladly accepted. Unfortunately, many of the records for the cemetery had been damaged in the flood, so today’s receiver spent 3 painstaking years going around interviewing townspeople in order to ascertain all the information for all the people that are buried there so family members would always have a proper record. Our award winner remains in charge of the day to day operations for the cemetery to this day.
As many of you are well aware, Washington has maintained its pristine form over the years in no small part due to the carefully scripted zoning laws that we all abide by. Well it was not always so. In the years before all our zoning laws were carefully codified, our award winner served on the zoning board of appeals for several years. When carefully considering applications, our recipient said and I quote: “first and foremost thought about the good of our beautiful village, and then made every attempt to be ‘neighborly’”.
Our award winner has always been an active member in St. John’s parish since their arrival in Washington. About 20 years ago, a Colonel James Hull left some money to the parish to start a scholarship fund to be given to a Shepaug student each year to help with college expenses. Our recipient was chosen by the parish to administer the scholarship. They have done so each year since, carefully considering each application and then making the appropriate award decision.
This year’s award winner has spent the last 46 years working at the Gunnery School. Starting off as the assistant to the Head of School and over the years serving in many varied positions, everything from admissions to teaching Latin. For their long and valuable service, our recipient was given an honorary degree a few years ago, an honor that the school has only bestowed a very few times in its long history.
This year’s recipient has tirelessly given to our wonderful community, actively serving in the many organizations I have mentioned, some for over 50 years. They have done so not out of obligation, or for the recognition, but out of an honest interest in the well being of our community and a keen interest in being neighborly. All of these efforts make our receiver an Exceptional Citizen, one who truly embodies the extraordinary qualities that exemplified Stephen’s life.
I am very proud to announce this year’s winner of the Major Stephen Reich Award for Exceptional Citizenship is Margaret Addicks.