Ruth Parker: Hudson’s Citizen of the Year
by Maureen Gillum
To the delight of many, Ruth M. Parker was recently named Hudson’s outstanding Citizen of the Year for 2007. Long considered a cherished friend, tireless volunteer and the quintessential living historian of Hudson, Parker was duly honored at the Greater Hudson Chamber of Commerce (GHCC)’s 38th Annual Awards Dinner last Sunday (3-18-07), to the cheers of hundreds and personal acknowledgement of keynote speaker, U. S. Senator John McCain (R - Arizona).
“Ruth carries on an important legacy of contributions to this town that her parents started,” explained GHCC’s Brenda Collins, “Known to so many to be the esteemed town historian and helpful friend to all, Ruth is one of Hudson’s true gems.” Collins also noted that Parker received more recommendations and nominations for outstanding citizen than any other candidate in recent history.
The Hudson native attended the old Hudson Center School, Webster School, and Alvirne High School. Ruth recalled with a smile, “There were just 40 classmates in our Alvirne Class (1957).” A college math major who originally aspired to be an “insurance actuary,” Parker landed at the early forefront of computers with “paper tape and punch cards.” She moved to Connecticut for several years to work as a computer programmer for United Aircraft - an enigma for a woman in the 1960s. She recalled laughing, “I worked up to 10 hours on weather programs to predict a 30 minute storm.”
Adept with numbers, Parker often found herself “ending up as the treasurer of many things I’m involved with,” including the Hudson Historical Society (HHS, sponsors of Old Home Days and Harvest Fest), and the First Baptist Church of Hudson. For decades, she has been active in the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution), Wattannick Grange, The New Hampshire Society of Genealogists, and The New England Historical Genealogical Society. She has also served as a trustee for Alvirne High School, Alvirne Chapel, and Westview Cemetery.
“What better person to have as Citizen of the Year?” queried HHS VP, friend, and Hudson’s 2004 Citizen, Esther McGraw, “Ruth just quietly works so hard in the background – she is so deserving of this recognition and award.”
HHS Past-Secretary, Vicki Beike added, “Ruth is always there to lend a hand - no matter what, and anytime day or night.”
A lifelong member of the First Baptist Church of Hudson, Parker has served as trustee, pulpit committee member, and Sunday school superintendent. Still the church’s treasurer (and unofficial historian), Ruth was also heavily involved with the recent steeple project. “We took the steeple down in 2000 and replaced it in December 2006,” reported Parker proudly. She also cited the church cleverly generated an income stream via an embedded cell phone tower to help pay for the new steeple.
Fellow church member, Bertha Ashford, stated, “Ruth does so much, without ever seeking the limelight.”
Ruth, 67, grew up with her sister, Marilyn Rollins, on a lovely family dairy farm on Old Robinson Road. The sisters still live there today. “I’m so pleased and proud of my sister,” Rollins beamed.
Childhood friend, Jean Serino, warmly shared, “I’ve known Ruthie for more than 60 years, and we’ve never had a fight, because of her. If you had a heart attack at 2 a.m., you’d call Ruth for help.”
Parker also cited that her parent’s unswerving faith and active involvement in community were major influences in her life. “My father, Charles, was born in Hudson, and came to live with his Robinson grandparents on this farm at age 11.”
Her beloved mother, Ruth E. Parker, born in Nashua, met Charles through a schoolmate, married and moved to Hudson in 1933, during the depression. “Though Mom was a correspondent for The Telegraph, she was foremost a teacher at Hudson Junior High, (now Dr. H. O. Smith) and Nashua,” recalled Parker. She also shared with a smile, “we both graduated in the same UNH class of 1961” – she earned her Bachelor of Art degree in math at the University of New Hampshire (UNH), while her Mom received her Masters in Education.
Ruth carries on the Parker legacy of community service. “Mom was an active volunteer for the Grange, church, PTA, and the Fortnightly Women’s Club,” according to Parker. Her father was a dedicated member of the Grange and the Farm Bureau. Parker also shared this award held “special personal significance” as her mother, who died in 2000, also won Hudson Citizen of the Year in 1980.
Parker responded in her typical modest fashion to her tribute. “I was really surprised,” stated Parker with sincere modesty, “I was also very pleased, touched and honored by this award.” Deflecting praise, she also gratefully expressed her heartfelt thanks and appreciation to the GHCC and the many people that nominated her. Even in her brief speech at the GHCC awards dinner, Parker humbly stated, “The most awesome part of all the groups I’ve been involved with over the years, are all the wonderful individuals I work with - I want to share this honor and recognition with all of you.”
An avid fan, Len Lathrop, Town Trustee and Hudson Historical Society officer, shared, “Ruth is a very unique person so many admire and love.” He characterized her as someone who “gives so much and never seeks any recognition.” Lathrop concluded, “Ruth helps everything in our community flourish - this is her moment of well deserved recognition.”
Sue Misek, Genealogy Chair, works with Parker at HHS’ headquarters (Alvirne House, 1890) most every Thursday morning, inventorying and archiving. She stated, “I’m most impressed with how much she does to help others, even strangers,” citing Parker has corresponded for months with a mid-west family to assist them in tracking their genealogy. “Ruth found they are related to the Blodgett’s of Hudson and one of their ancestors was a Revolutionary War veteran buried here in Blodgett cemetery,” Misek shared, “She is working hard to get the proper recognition that soldier deserves for Memorial Day.” She added with a laugh, “Ruth has also dragged us from the dark ages into the computer age at the Historical Society.”
On the rare occasion Parker isn’t volunteering, she can be found gardening or canning at her homestead; attending bible study; or playing the latest number game. “I’m a total Suduko fanatic,” Ruth admitted with a smile. “The best thing about Hudson always was, and always will be, its people,” she concluded optimistically, “Our town is changing, but it’s still Hudson.”
Congratulations Ruth M. Parker - devoted volunteer, dear friend and Hudson’s Citizen of the Year 2007. If you have a question about Hudson history, or would like to congratulate Ruth, you can contact her through the Hudson Historical Society at email@example.com or 880-2020.
Dream Makers or Dream Takers
by Lynne Ober
It’s all about choices … and about making good choices in life. That’s the message of Team Impact, a team of body builders and wrestlers who travel the world to share their message of a good life, a healthy life, and making great choices.
At two assemblies at Litchfield Middle School, Team Impact wowed the audience as well as made them think about the future, and how to obtain a healthy future through good choices.
Team Impact is composed of 16 dedicated men who know what it is to make both good and bad choices. Greg Lewis was a competitive body builder for ten years. He trained, competed, and lived the life necessary to win at competitions – that included taking steroids. However, he made a healthy choice 16 years ago and has been drug free ever since. Today, Greg is a rare combination of power and integrity. Watch him do a 500 pound bench press. Look at his physique, which won him both the Mr. Southwest America and Texas Body Building Championships during his competitive days. He’s been a youth minister for Metroplex Chapel in Euless, Texas, and knows how important it is to live a life of integrity and purpose.
Joining him on the stage was Kevin Dowd. Kevin is a competitive power lifter, with many records and first place finishes as a bench press specialist. Through his rigorous training program, Kevin can bench press over 600 pounds. Today, he stands at six feet and weighs in with 275 pounds of hard muscle. More than all the records, and drive to compete against the best power lifters in the world, is Kevin’s humble heart and his calling to ministry – he too specializes in youth and helping them make the best choices.
With music pounding in the background, Greg tells the students what they will do. He interspersed his introduction with jokes and youthful wisdom that reaches his attentive audience.
Greg waved a baseball bat and said that it takes more than 400 pounds of steady force to break the bat into two pieces, but that Kevin will accomplish that with his bare hands.
Finally it is time for some action and Greg had a young man join them on the gym floor. “Is this a real baseball bat? Do you see any cuts or scratches?” he asked his guest.
Together Greg and the student carefully inspected the baseball bat. Finally, it is pronounced in perfect shape.
Greg then handed him a large telephone book. “Are any pages missing? Is this a real phone book?”
Again there was a careful inspection. “Try to tear it in half,” urged Gregg.
With much grunting and vocal help from the audience, the student struggles to tear the phone book.
“Looks like we have a wrinkled front page,” grinned Gregg.
Then Kevin picked up a length of rebar and began to bend it. “Don’t try this at home,” said Gregg. “Go to somebody else’s house.”
The audience roared.
Kevin bent the rebar until there was a perfect circle in the middle.
“Watch him make another circle,” urged Gregg.
With two perfect circles made in the rebar, Kevin took over the microphone and Gregg picked up the telephone book.
In no time, Gregg had torn the phone book in half, and torn pages swirled through the air of the gym. The audience clapped gleefully.
Now Kevin picked up the baseball bat. The music hit a stronger beat while Kevin tried to break the bat. Suddenly, a loud snap was heard and the baseball bat was in two pieces. The audience went wild.
Kevin took the microphone again, and Greg picked up a can of Diet Sprite.
“We use Diet Sprite because it is not sticky if it gets on you,” said Kevin. “Gregg is going to squeeze the can open. If he doesn’t shake it, it won’t squirt all over you while he does that.”
Gregg, of course, had the can in one hand and was shaking that hand at the audience.
“We’ll do our best not to shake the can,” yells Kevin. “Oops, Gregg – stop shaking.”
Gregg walked closer and closer to the audience. He had a wide grin. He walked back and forth in front of the audience and suddenly the can popped open and Diet Sprite squirted on the audience.
“That wasn’t nice,” said Kevin. “You shook the can. You have to apologize.”
With a broad grin and a wink, Gregg apologized for his ‘accident’.
When Kevin asked if they want to go back to class, the audience shouted Nooooooo. “Well, if you are quiet, you can stay and listen to me.”
Kevin talked about choices and how some are “dream makers,” and others are “dream takers.” The dream takers steal your dreams from you, but the dream makers help you reach your dreams. After their awe-inspiring feats of strength, their message of thinking about, and making better choices, penetrated the minds of the students.
Kevin had a fifth grader, Shane, join him on the floor. “The choices you make today will affect your future forever. The choices you make may be small, but if you continually make the wrong choices, they will grow into a big problem.”
Kevin spoke about peer pressure to try drugs and alcohol -- dream takers -- and how those choices would lead to other choices.
He had Shane hold onto his neck and he stood up. “Shane doesn’t want to study. That’s a little problem on my back.”
Then he asked for a sixth grader. Jared joined him.
“I like your hair. I wish I had some,” quipped Kevin. The crowd laughed.
Jared also held onto his neck and when Kevin stood up, he showed the audience how he had a bigger problem now, since he had chosen to cut school and hang out with the wrong friends.
Finally, Kevin called Principal Lecklider down, and he had him hold him around his neck. Kevin could no longer stand up straight. His little problems had grown into a huge problem that was weighing him down and stealing his dreams.
Team Impact positively reinforced family values and integrity. Their message reached the students who were enthralled from beginning to end.
Meet the New Selectmen
by Lynne Ober
Litchfield has two new selectmen, after incumbents Jack Pinciaro and Cecil Williams decided not to run for re-election.
Joining the board are George A. Lambert, Jr. and Andrew Santom.
Santom has lived in Litchfield since October, 1997. He’s married and he and his wife have a son, 3, and a daughter, 6. “We also have a baby on the way,” he grinned. “I grew up in Massachusetts, and my wife is from Rhode Island.”
He moved to Litchfield after serving in the military and now works for Tybrin in Nashua, as a defense contractor. Tybrin’s home is in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, but they have offices throughout America. Their mission is to be a premier supplier of software and engineering services and products, by providing high quality service under mature, disciplined processes, that focus on innovative and cost-effective solutions to their customers’ complex problems.
Santom served in the National Guard for 15 years.
This is his first time in politics, and he hopes to bring new ideas and good fiscal management for taxpayers. “Like everyone else, I want to get the most from our resources, and make sure that money is being spent well.”
Santom wants people to consider Litchfield a good, safe town and a great place to raise families. “Right now we do a lot of kid activities, but I used to play hockey.” One of his assignments for the selectmen will be as liaison to the Recreation Commission and he’s looking forward to it.
Lambert has lived in town for three years, and prior to that, in Nashua. He’s the Director of Software at GoldenWare, a company that provides software for a variety of airline needs. He’s also been involved in Podkey Solutions, and laughs about being in the newspapers a year ago, when he was sued over one of the products offered by Podkey. “We’ve resolved that issue now and moved on,” he said.
On the day that he was sworn in as selectman, he had been in Concord testifying on a bill about police accountability. “I worked with legislators to get this bill, and believe in police accountability. I want to see this bill passed.”
Lambert said he had lots of questions and was concerned about high taxes. He, too, wants Litchfield to be a great place to live.
Like Santom, Lambert is a family man. He and his wife, Rhonda, have three daughters who will turn 8, 5, and 3 in April.
Lambert wants to see the town use technology more, and thinks that he can be a catalyst to make that happen.
The other three board members welcomed both men to the board.