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Citizen Of The Year

Citizen honoree Zukowski praises team effort

Ray Zukowski in his Northfield home.  Recorder/Paul Franz

Ray Zukowski in his Northfield home. Recorder/Paul Franz

DEERFIELD — As a former police chief and as a go-to officer of the Turners Falls Shuetzen Verein, Raymond Zukowski may be used to being in control of situations he finds himself in. But he was nearly speechless at being honored Friday as the 31st annual Recorder Citizen of the Year.

“I’m not usually at a loss for words, but I’m losing it,” the 58-year-old retired Montague police chief told approximately 275 people at a Franklin County Chamber of Commerce holiday breakfast at Deerfield Academy

Zukowski, who followed up 36 years on the Montague police force with a part-time job with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Triad program, was recognized for helping Franklin County seniors through that program. He was also lauded for helping Triad, Baystate Franklin Medical Center, returning veterans through the Wounded Warriors Project, cancer victims and their families through the Jane Lloyd Fund and other causes in many cases by coordinating clambakes, chicken barbecue events and other benefits that have raised tens of thousands of dollars through the Shuetzen Verein, which he called “The most civic-minded club going in Franklin County. You ask us, we’ll be there for you.”

The Northfield recipient, who was presented with citations from the Massachusetts governor’s office, Senate and House of Representatives, as well as the U.S. Congress and Greenfield Mayor’s Office, donated half of his $500 prize to the Triad.

But he was uncomfortable being in the spotlight.

“I told my wife, ‘I’d rather be going into a bar fight than coming here,’” he joked, and he was quick to insist that he’s only been part of a team working to help people.

“It was a bunch of guys sitting at these two tables sitting in front. All I do is say, ‘Guys, we need to put a committee together’ and they’re there.”

He credited Paul Bassett, Dave Gilbault, Don Richotte, Jeff Suprenant, Francis Togneri, Dan Gavin, Brian Dobosz, Zukowski’s son, Christopher Zukowski, and especially Randy Crosier, who with his staff at the Farren Care Center prepare many of the meals that raise money for so many causes.

“It’s just an incredible partnership,” said Zukowski.

An echo of that came back from Elizabeth Cardoza of the Western Massachusetts governor’s office, who has presented a citation for several years on behalf of her boss, Gov. Deval Patrick. Although she attends gatherings as well in the three other western counties, she said, “Franklin County has such a special way of collaborating that you could really be a model to the entire commonwealth.”

Past honorees

Other Recorder citizens are Elizabeth Hollingsworth, Joan Vander Vliet, Al Dray and Philip Gilmore of Deerfield; Pearl Care of Erving; Theodore Martineau of Montague City; Rolland Gifford, Marion Taylor and Marvin Shippee of Shelburne Falls; Pam Clarke, Marjorie Reid, Edward Tombs, Irmarie Jones, Jean Cummings, David McCarthy, Charles Carter and Arline Cohn of Greenfield, the Rev. Stanley Aksamit, John Carey and Richard Kimball of Turners Falls, Albert Diemand and Theodore Lewis of Wendell, Frank R. “Bud” Foster and William Shores of Bernardston, Marian Holbrook of Northfield, Theodore Martineau of Montague, Allan Adie of Gill, Marty Picard and Geneva Lawson of Orange and Adelia Bardwell of Whately.

A justly deserved honor for an outstanding person.

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