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New Service Award To Honor The Legacy Of Mary Hawley



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This spring marks the introduction of the Mary Hawley Public Service Award in honor of Newtown’s beloved benefactress. The Newtown Bee has been asked to be the first to announce this inaugural award.

The award, which was initially announced in September 2023, was established to promote volunteerism by recognizing an individual who, through lengthy and exceptional public service to Newtown, best represents the selfless commitment and spirit of its namesake.

“The Mary Hawley Public Service award was established in recognition of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Society of the Hawley Family, which Mary co-founded with my grandfather, Samuel Hawley,” said Bronson Hawley. “Mary had no brothers or sisters. She had no children. From what we know, she had few, if any close friends. What she did have, was a love for Newtown. For all that she gave the town, nothing bears her name. Now it will. The Mary Hawley Public Service Award will serve as an enduring tribute to this extraordinary woman, while honoring a current or former resident who has made exceptional contributions to Newtown through selfless volunteer service.”

The service award is being organized by The Mary Elizabeth Hawley Public Service Award Committee, and is being promoted by Newtown Savings Bank, who is also providing a donation.

According to the application, “The Mary Hawley Public Service Award was established to promote volunteerism by honoring an individual who, through demonstrated public service to Newtown, best represents the selfless commitment and spirit of Newtown’s beloved benefactress, Mary Elizabeth Hawley.”

The recipient of the Mary Hawley Public Service Award will be selected in June and their name will be the first to grace the plaque at Edmond Town Hall. They will also receive a personalized memento to commemorate the achievement and Newtown Savings Bank will donate $1,000 to a Newtown-based nonprofit of the recipient’s choosing.

The nomination period is open March 1 to May 1. The nomination form is available at locations across Newtown — C.H. Booth Library, Edmond Town Hall, and Newtown Community Center. It may be found online at


The Selection Committee, comprised of three individuals, will determine the recipient by June 30. One of the individuals is The Newtown Bee’s publisher, Sherri Smith-Baggett.

Mary Hawley, for whom the public service award is being named, was the first child born to Sarah (Booth) and Marcus Hawley, on August 22, 1857. She was a descendant from one of the oldest families in New England.

Her father, Marcus Hawley, died in 1899, leaving several million dollars to his wife and daughter. Her mother, Sarah Hawley, died in 1920, at the age of 90.

The next decade marked the start of Mary Hawley’s philanthropy that residents today still benefit from.

Having inherited Ram Pasture from her mother’s side of the family, Mary began to focus on that and the neighboring Newtown Village Cemetery.

Following the advice of her trusted friend and financial advisor Arthur T. Nettleton, Mary in 1924 donated a tract of land to the cemetery, extending the cemetery grounds to the west.

She later funded preservation of the oldest section of the cemetery, financed the front entrance gates off Elm Drive, financed The Hawley Memorial Vault, financed “solid roadways” within the grounds, and saw to the construction of a bridge connecting Main Street to the cemetery.

In 1928, her funding created a small lake, Hawley Pond, to the east of the cemetery.

Also in 1928, honoring her great-grandfather, Judge William Edmond, Mary funded the construction of Edmond Town Hall at 45 Main Street. She laid the cornerstone of that building on May 1, 1929.

In 1920, the town’s academy building burned under mysterious circumstances. On the advice of Nettleton, Mary Hawley financed the construction of a joint elementary-high/consolidated school, which became The Hawley School, at 29 Church Hill Road.

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