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In recent years, Newtown officials have set aside a date to honor two individuals who are true Newtown treasures. Among those honored have been the late Julia Wasserman, as well as Dr Thomas Draper, Dr Robert Grossman, and Mae Schmidle.
This year’s event will be no different, as the community is invited to honor former Superintendent of Schools John Reed and former First Selectmen Joe Borst — two well-known residents who have individually and selflessly dedicated themselves to the community for decades.
The free public testimonial is set for Sunday, October 23, at the Newtown Congregational Church Great Room, 14 West Street, from 2 to 4 pm.
A speaking program is scheduled to begin around 2:45 pm and is expected to include attorney Robert Hall, Republican Town Committee and former Legislative Council Chairman Jeff Capeci, longtime Public Works Director Fred Hurley, and Public Building & Site Commission Chairman Robert Mitchell, all feting Mr Borst.
Longtime local educator Thomas Kuroski, former Board of Education vice chair and current Newtown Poet Laureate Lisa Schwartz, former school board chairman, former first selectman, and current Selectman Herb Rosenthal, and former Fairfield Hills Authority colleague Andrew Willie are expected to pay tribute to Dr Reed.
Mr Borst and his bride of 62 years, Barbara, have resided in Newtown since 1955, raising their five children, Jim, Michael, Liz, Mary, and Joseph, Jr, here.
Among the many calls for service he has answered beyond serving as a one-term first selectman, Mr Borst has been an elected member of the Legislative Council; president and treasurer of Newtown Housing for the Elderly; chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission; a justice of the peace; a selectman; and a school bus owner/operator.
He remains an active member of St Rose of Lima Church, has long supported the Newtown High School Band Parents, the Newtown Forest Association, and was most recently named the community’s first chairman emeritus of the Public Building & Site Commission.
PBSC Chairman Mitchell has known Mr Borst for more than 15 years.
In a recent Newtown Bee profile, he said, “Joe has a mental history of Newtown that is an incredible resource to us. He adds color to our discussions and deliberations. His memories of the projects, how they were run, the various personalities involved, is vivid.”
Recalling the scope of Mr Borst’s public service, First Selectman Pat Llodra said she maintains a “deep respect and appreciation for all he has done for our community.”
“Joe’s public service and civic involvement has spanned more than four decades,” she said. “There is little that he has not influenced in some way. He is one of the most kind and generous persons I have ever had the pleasure of working with.”
Along with serving as Newtown superintendent of schools from 1982 to 2002, and its interim superintendent in 2013, John Reed has represented Newtown as an interim in Weston, Middletown, and Darien.
At the time of retirement in 2002, Dr Reed was the longest serving single-district superintendent in the state, and was such a strong and persuasive advocate for building a local intermediate school that the Board of Education voted to name the newly built facility after him in the year he retired.
As a Fairfield Hills Authority member and chair between 2005 and 2012, he was chief architect of the walking trails that line the campus, which are enjoyed by hundreds of Newtown residents.
He responded immediately following the 12/14 tragedy, and spent much of his time in 2013 at the Chalk Hill School complex in Monroe supporting the Sandy Hook students and staff. Dr Reed served in the cafeteria, as a reading aide, as a comfort and buddy to all, according to Mrs Llodra.
She recalled the story of how Dr Reed landed in Newtown.
“John found his way to the Newtown schools superintendent position after reading an ad for the position in a national magazine. He and his family were heading through town on the way to Massachusetts, pulled off the highway at Exit 10, liked what they saw and the rest is history,” Mrs Llodra said.
Dr Reed is expected to be joined by his wife Christine, his adult children, John, Jr, and Elizabeth, and three grandchildren.
The community is invited to meet and greet the honorees, and enjoy light refreshments from LeReine Frampton.