Longtime Auburn residents and volunteers, Chet and Roberta Stencel, have been chosen as the 2018 recipients of the John E. and Ethel E. Riley Outstanding Citizenship Award.
The Stencels have a long history of service to the Auburn Community. The couple moved to Auburn in 1970 and raised their three children, Matt, Kate and Andrew, in Auburn. Matt and Kate still live in town and follow in their parents’ footsteps, raising their children and staying active in sports, schools, scouting and dance. Their son Andrew passed away unexpectedly in 2012, and the Stencels continue to honor his memory with an annual fundraiser that benefits St. John’s Church in Worcester.
Chet currently serves as Town Moderator, and was a Town Meeting Member for over 40 years. His involvement in Town started not long after the moved to Auburn.
“I was on a school administration committee in the 1970s” said Chet. “Roberta was on the committee too. I think that was when we first got involved in the town.”
Chet most recently served on the Julia Bancroft/Mary D. Stone Reuse Committee
Roberta has also served on the Auburn Cultural Council regularly for about 30 years.
“You serve a term and then have a year before you can be reappointed, so it is not 30 years consecutive, but she has been involved all along” explained Chet.
Both Chet and Roberta have lives built around supporting the community’s youth. Chet was a teacher in Webster for about 35 years. Today he still teaches some algebra classes at Quinsigamond Community College in Worcester. Roberta served as a substitute teacher in the AUburn Public Schools for about 14 years, and continued as a classroom aide until more recently, now that her her youngest grandchildren have moved out of the elementary school age.
Their service has largely focused on children, as well. From the time their children entered elementary school, the Stencels have been involved with all phases of their activities.
“Chet coached baseball and basketball and soccer” said Roberta. “I was on the PTO, and served as the chair for a time. We were also on the Town Fourth of July Committee when that was in existence” she said.
“We were also on the Boyce St. Tot Lot committee” added Chet.
As the children grew, so did the activities list. Active in St. Joe’s Church for going on 50 years, the Stencels were instrumental in the St. Joe’s basketball league, which was widely known and highly regarded for many, many years. The Stencels have also been active in the Relay for life since its inception in Auburn about 20 years ago. The Relay grew to be a significant event every fall in Auburn.
“We were very active in the St. Joseph’s Youth Group and the Catholic Youth Council” said Roberta. “We’ve slowed down a bit now. We enjoy supporting AYFS ([Auburn Youth and Family Services], and we volunteer for the Brodeur Road Race. Our son Andrew was in the same class as David [Brodeur] and each year they honor the members of the class who have passed on. So we do those and the charity we started to in honor of Andrew which benefits St. John’s Church Food for the Poor program in Worcester”
Yet, in spite of their impressive history of service to their church and community, Chet was surprised at the award.
“I was shocked” said Chet. I never expected it. I never even thought about it.”
Roberta added, “We consider this such an honor. We would like to see more people know about it, and what it is.”
There will be a formal award presentation at the annual Auburn Ecumenical Service, held on Thanksgiving eve, November 21, at 7:30pm at Faith Church, 22 Faith Ave. Auburn. The public is invited and encouraged to attend.
The John E. & Ethel E. Riley Outstanding Citizenship Award was created in 1976 to honor the Rileys for their contribution to serving and making life for Auburn Citizens better. John Riley served as the Town Clerk from 1922 to 1975 and Ethel served as an Assistant for many years. A trust is now held by the Greater Worcester Community Foundation, and the interest earned is awarded to the recipient(s) chosen each year.
History of John E. and Ethel E. Riley Award Winners
|1979||Hubert K. Barry & Mary Adamsky|
|1980||John J. Boudreau|
|1983||Lorraine Nordgren & Paul Noack|
|1985||Anna & Dick Fleming|
|1987||Albert & Ronald Prouty|
|1988||Frank & Joan Cassidy|
|1990||Kevin & Nancy Beach|
|1991||Bob Lund & Bill Bylund|
|1992||Suzanne Billings & Lil Green|
|1994||George S. Jewell & Ellie Oleson|
|1995||Lorraine Scheffler & Henry Utter|
|1996||Matt & Adele Smith|
|1997||Ray Twarowski & Paul Sturgis|
|1998||Anne & Jack Nugent|
|2000||Lynn & Tim Cummins|
|2001||Mary W. Robinson|
|2002||Phyllis D. Gallant|
|2003||Robert & Carole Murray|
|2004||Francis M. Provost|
|2005||George J. Fournier|
|2006||Elizabeth & William Gribbons|
|2010||Victoria & David Mclaughlin|
|2011||Rev. Robert F. & Leona F. Fenby|
|2012||Rev. John Gee|
|2013||Robert R. Breault|
|2016||Rev. Dennis Knight|
|2017||Alice M. Rea|