Simsbury Culture, Parks and Recreation Department
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News: 2022 Hometown Heroes Announced

Date Published Author
5/20/2022 12:00:00 AM  Town Staff 

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Hometown Hero Ceremony
May 23rd, 2022
5:00 p.m.

Initiated in 1986 by Governor William O’Neill as part of the 350th Anniversary of the founding of Connecticut, towns were invited to designate residents as “Hometown Heroes” for any deed or service that made the community a better place in which to live.  Since that time, the Town of Simsbury has recognized its own Hometown Heroes at a special ceremony.
A Selection Committee, consisting of the First Selectperson, representatives of the Board of Selectmen, the Historical Society, the business community, a previous Hometown Hero, and a member of a service or Veteran’s organization reviews nominations and selects individuals who have demonstrated selfless and altruistic behavior which contributes significantly to the betterment of the Town.
Wendy Mackstutis, First Selectman
Eric Wellman, Selectman
Amber Abbuhl, Selectman
Melissa Brett, Business Leader
Elaine Lang, Simsbury Historical Society
J. Donohue, Former Hometown Hero
Len Lanza, Veteran


Margaret Kennedy
Margaret has been a supportive member of her community since moving to Simsbury with her husband in 1993. At 102 years old, Margaret is an inspiration to all of those who know her. Since 1993 she has been very active in her community at the First Church of Christ Simsbury, serving on several committees and tutoring students at the Maria Sanchez School in Hartford. As part of her work with the hospitality committee, prior to COVID she served at the monthly Men’s Senior Luncheons. In addition, she also volunteered at the Simsbury Public Library Book Sale every year up to 2020. For many years Margaret has used her accounting skills through the senior center to helping seniors in town file their taxes.
Marianne O’Neil
In her 50 years as a Simsbury resident, Marianne has demonstrated passion and dedication to helping her community. As a member of St. Mary’s Church, she teaches Sunday School and provides meals to Hartford homeless shelters. She has also participated in fund-raising campaigns for Squadron Line PTA. Marianne’s commitment and vision has greatly benefited the Simsbury Public Library. She first served as a Trustee, and for the last 12 years of her tenure served as the Board’s Chairperson. During this time Marianne helped direct the Library’s expansion and renovation for the Tariffville Room, guiding it through the Town’s budget and referendum process. She also served on two distinct Five Year Strategic Planning Committees, and is an Investor Angel of the Friends of the Library, assisting with the “Books–To-Your-Door” program and the annual Used Book Sale.
Gerard Wetjen
Gerry’s history of volunteerism and altruism began when he moved to Simsbury in 1978. He has served on the Simsbury Youth Hockey’s Board of Directors, and was a coach with the Simsbury Little League for over 20 years. Golfing is one of Gerry’s many passions, and he held every leadership position with the Simsbury Farms Golf Men’s Club at one time or another from 2003—2010. Gerry was crucial in creating the Tee-Sign sponsorship program, which provides funds for golf course items. For the past 11 years, he has also served on various committees for the Culture, Parks and Recreation Commission. Gerry’s financial background was an asset for the Commission to manage finances and navigate budget challenges. Finally, Gerry spearheaded the efforts to establish the Friends of Simsbury Farms in 2016 which has since generated over $172,000 in donations for facility improvements at the Simsbury Farms Recreation Complex including the popular outdoor basketball courts.
Jay T. Willerup
Jay joined the Board of the Friends of Heublein in 2003 with a passion to restore the landmark while preserving historical accuracy. He has served as President of the Board since 2015, leading fundraising efforts for successful restoration projects. Jay was recruited to join the Board of Directors for the Friends of Connecticut State Parks, and has been actively supporting other “Friends” groups in Connecticut. In addition to these positions, Jay was also instrumental in designing and implementing fundraisers for the MLK in CT Memorial, which was unveiled in January, 2021.