Joe Undercofler Singled out as NH Grange Citizen of the YearOctober 31, 2014
by Lynne Ober
It’s the little things that get done that amaze so many people. For example, if you used the Benson Park dog park this year, you might have wondered how and when the grass in the dog park was cut. If you really wanted to know, you had to be there before dawn because that’s when Joe Undercofler showed up to mow. “He always went very early so none of the dogs or their owners would be disturbed by the noise,” said Natalie Undercofler, his proud mother.
If there’s a storm and trees go down, you can expect that Joe will show up with his chain saw and start cleaning up the debris. “I just wish he’d take someone with him in case of injury,” said Natalie.
In April, the Community Citizen Award was given to Joseph Undercofler by the Hudson Grange and, in October, a reception was held at the Crown Plaza to present the statewide awards. Joe was chosen the NH Grange Citizen of the Year.
According to State Representative Bob Haefner, “Each one of the 62 NH Subordinate Granges is requested, but not required, to present community service awards every spring. We suggest Outstanding Citizen, Educator, Police Officer, Firefighter as awards. You can also have a veteran of the year. After the Subordinate Granges present their awards, they also are submitted to the state grange community service director, who selects one in each category for the state award.”
Haefner, who oversees the Hudson Grange, said there is no set criteria. “Our grange takes suggested names, we discuss the worthiness of each and either vote or select by acclamation. That is our process for Community Citizen, for Educator, Police Officer and Firefighter; we let the principal or chief select the one they think is most worthy that year and tell us why. We have been doing this since the early ‘70s.”
Joe has always volunteered in many community projects. When his young son, Michael, wanted to play baseball, he signed him up. According to Cindy, his wife, it was a bit of a surprise when he discovered that he was also signing himself up for many years of volunteering. What happened with baseball, happened again when his son joined the Scouts. Working in many capacities, Joe also became a troop leader and Eagle Scout adviser. Even after his son entered college, Joe continued his work with the Boy Scouts. He has mentored many boys to become fine citizens of Hudson.
So it was no surprise that Joe would become involved with Benson Park’s update and upkeep. He has devoted many hours to this effort and is often there before sunrise and until sundown. He’s a member of Hudson Conservation Commission and volunteers at Robinson Pond and Musquash Pond creating and maintaining trails as well as clearing trash along the roadsides of Hudson.
Joe has an easy smile and is always quick to deflect attention from himself and onto others. When asked how earning this award made him feel, he quickly said, “The Alvirne Jazz Band that played at the reception was wonderful. Gerry Bastian does an excellent job with the Hudson music program.” Notice, he didn’t mention the award — and he won’t. He is the best of the community, but doesn’t think that deserves any special recognition.
Joe loves his town and goes above and beyond to make it a great place to live for many of us. “With everything Joe does for the town and the youth of our town, I can think of no one more deserving of this award,” concluded Haefner with a smile.