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Gordon Williams Named Inaugural Recipient Of Mary Hawley Service Award



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The Mary Hawley Service Award Committee has announced Gordon Williams as its inaugural recipient.

Named in honor of Newtown’s beloved benefactress, the award 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.

As written on the nomination form, “the name Gordon Williams is synonymous with volunteerism in Newtown.” As a devoted husband, father, and friend to generations of residents, Williams has given his time and talent to the community for decades.

The Mary Hawley Service Award Committee made the announcement June 26.

Williams's tireless efforts have significantly benefited numerous local organizations, including Newtown Lions Club, Newtown Historical Society, and Newtown Congregational Church.

Williams’ leadership in coordinating events such as History Camp and The Great Pootatuck Duck Race, as well as his role in community initiatives such as Lose the Litter and HomeFront, exemplifies the dedication that the Mary Hawley Service Award seeks to recognize and honor.

Bronson Hawley, a selection committee member and descendent of the award’s namesake, said he and the committee were impressed by Williams “and how immersed he is in Newtown. Like Mary Hawley, he has made meaningful contributions to the community.

“As our first recipient, he sets an exemplary standard for the caliber of candidates the award attracts. We’re honored to acknowledge his service and dedication,” Hawley added.

Williams’ contributions extend beyond volunteerism. A retired history teacher from Hillcrest Junior High School in Trumbull and a former Fulbright Scholar, his commitment to education is further demonstrated through his involvement with Newtown Historical Society, where he served as president. Additionally, Williams’ long-standing service with the C.H. Booth Library Board of Trustees and his foundational role in the Newtown Men’s Literary Club highlight his lifelong dedication to fostering community connections and enriching the cultural fabric of Newtown.

Gordon Williams’ remarkable legacy of service, characterized by humility and a profound sense of community, makes him a fitting first recipient of the Mary Hawley Service Award. His unwavering dedication will continue to inspire and uplift the residents of Newtown.

The selection committee will celebrate Gordon Williams later this summer at Edmond Town Hall, where he will receive the award, have his name added to a plaque in the Mary Hawley Room, and name the beneficiary of a $1,000 contribution to be provided by Newtown Savings Bank.

Readers were invited in September to nominate current or former Newtown residents for the honor, established in recognition of the 100th anniversary of the founding of The Society of the Hawley Family.

Newtown Benefactress Mary Elizabeth Hawley co-founded the society with Samuel Hawley, grandfather of Bronson.

“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,” Bronson said in September 2023 upon the call for nominations.

“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,” he added.

Mary Hawley 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.

Newtown Lions Club again had multiple booths set up at the Earth Day Festival. Gordon Williams championed the long-standing Lose The Litter effort.
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