Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen. It is great to see that so many of you came out to honor and remember those who have given so selflessly to our great nation. I am immensely proud of our local Memorial Day traditions; from the reading of the names in New Preston, to our ceremony here in the Depot. It is truly a fitting tribute to all the Washingtonians who have gone before us and served our country with such distinction.
I am a very honored to stand before you to present the 9th annual Major Stephen Reich Award for Exceptional Citizenship, in memory of a truly great Washingtonian whose life was exemplified by character, leadership, service and achievement.
Stephen would be so humbled to know the place he holds in this community’s heart. He would be the first to say but that he was merely a member of a much larger team, doing his duty as many have done before him. I hope that our recognition of Stephen’s service, will serve as a reminder of the greater meaning of Memorial Day and all the men and women in uniform who have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect the freedoms which we so cherish.
This year’s award winner was born in Philadelphia in 1926, but grew up north of the city in a very rural part of Pennsylvania. His professional career was spent primarily with two organizations: 20 years at Time magazine, where he worked his way up to be the President’s right hand man, and 25 years at the Council on Foreign Relations, from which he retired in 2004. During the 1980’s, while living in NYC, our award winner became acquainted with Washington through a couple of close friends who lived here. Upon getting to know Washington, he commented that the town immediately grabbed hold of him and his wife. They thought Washington was a wonderful blend of old and new and was blessed with so much beautiful green space, a subject near and dear to our winner’s heart.
Our recipient eventually moved to Washington in 1987 and quickly became involved in the community. He served as President of the Steep Rock Association for 5 years, during which he lead the effort acquire the Macricostas property in New Preston which dramatically added to our community’s green space. This year’s award winner has also been a Washington Community Housing Trust Board Member for many years, working in concert with the many constituencies in town to ensure there is enough affordable housing to help maintain the fabric of our tight knit community. One our winner’s biggest projects in town has been the After School Arts Program. He was a founding member of the organization 15 years ago with the goal of providing Shepaug students with meaningful after school activities. The program has been so successful and in such demand due to its valuable content that ASAP now operates in 86 towns across the state.
Since the moment our award winner arrived in Washington and fell in love with our community, he has worked tirelessly and selflessly on the continued improvement of our town. Whether working with the aforementioned official volunteer organizations, or leading informal groups like the one working on beautifying and repurposing Vinny’s old garage across the street, he has always worked as part of a larger team, often behind the scenes, and not seeking any credit for the many successes of these organizations. Our award winner is a perfect example of an Exceptional Citizen and I hope his leadership and vision will be an inspiration for future townspeople.
I am very pleased to announce the 2014 winner of the Major Stephen Reich Award for Exceptional Citizenship: John Millington.