By John Anderson
The John E. & Ethel E. Riley Outstanding Citizenship Award is traditionally presented at the Auburn Community Ecumenical Service held on the eve of Thanksgiving, but a snow storm last November postponed the event. Fortunately, the rescheduled event occurred last Saturday at St. Thomas Episcopal Church between two more storms.
The Award was created in 1976 to honor the Rileys for their contribution to serving and making life for Auburn citizens better. John served as the Town Clerk from 1922 to 1952, and Ethel served as an Assistant for many years. There was money donated that is now held by the Greater Worcester Community Foundation. The interest is given to the recipient each year.
After receiving nominations from Auburn residents, a committee chooses the recipient. The 2014 winner was local resident Kenneth Ethier who has made significant contributions to preserving Auburn’s history. His work with the Historical Society, his work on the recently published book about Auburn, and his frequent educational lectures are just a few of his ongoing efforts.
Ethier is frequently referred to as “the unofficial official historian of Auburn.”
Dr. Martha Pappas, one of the Rileys’ daughters, presented the award during the Ecumenical Service. Also speaking were Senator Michael Moore who presented proclamations from both the House and the Senate and Selectman Chair Doreen Goodrich who presented a proclamation from the Board.
Participating in the Ecumenical Service were Rev. John Gee of North American Martyr’s Church, Rev. Doug Geez of Faith Baptist Church, Rev. Brian Grover of the First Congregational Church, and Rev. David M. Hall of St. Thomas Episcopal Church.