Ashland Day Honorees, Part II

Welcome back! Last month we visited the honorees from the first Ashland Day through A’Day 1991. Everyone I mentioned had contributed, and in a lot of cases still contribute to the town in a variety of ways. This installment starts with A’Day 1992.

Ben Montenegro – 1992 Grand Marshal. Many of the honorees returned for another tour of duty. Ben was the 1986 Citizen of the Year. You may recall from last month the breadth of Ben’s accomplishments. Needless to say, Ben is a favorite.

Herb “Bunny” Smith – 1992 Citizen of the Year. They actually changed the name from Citizen of the Year to the Rick Ghilani Citizen of the Year Award in 1992 after the late Rick Ghilani. Rick was a well known former Selectman and firefighter in Ashland. The award is referenced as both throughout the history of Ashland Day.

Bunny Smith was an active member in the local veterans associations, mostly with the Ashland V.F.W. Post 2331. Many of us remember him as the Building Inspector in town for many years, and for the best roast beef dinner in Ashland.

Mavis Crawford – 1993 Grand Marshal. An Ashland High graduate, Ms. Crawford is one of the more knowledgeable individuals at the Ashland Historical Society. She was the owner of Yesteryear Farm Antiques on High St. for 38 years before finally closing the doors in 2005.

Ralph Cheever – 1993 Citizen of the Year. Along with Ralph’s participation in local activities, he is probably best known for his many years at the helm of Ashland Lumber Co. on Front Street.

Bob Gonfrade – 1994 Grand Marshal. Bob rose through the ranks of the Ashland Police Dept. to become the Chief in 1974 and retiring in 1994. Better known as “Sgt” Gonfrade at Lion’s Club meetings, Bob is actively involved in Lions, and is always ready to lend a hand. He is also known as the “Grinch of Ashland Day.”

Ron Davis – 1994 Citizen of the Year. Library Trustee and a member of the Ashland Directions team, Ron was also active in senior citizen activities

Dick Fannon – 1995 Grand Marshal. Dick was a walking reference at the Ashland Historical Society. A former Selectman, and former chairman of the Ashland Historical Society and Ashland Historical Commission, Dick loved history. He once said that while growing up in Ashland he could tell which train was going through town by the pitch of the train’s whistle.

Renato “Nate” Belli – Citizen of the Year. I can’t think of anyone living in town over the past 60 years that didn’t know Nate. A lifelong resident and graduate of Ashland High, he owned a barber shop in several locations downtown. If you wanted the “low down” on anything Ashland all you needed to do was visit Nate.

Ray Costello – 1996 Grand Marshal. Ray was a life-long resident of Ashland, and a true leader. What better choice for leading the parade!

The Ashland Fire Dept. – 1996 Citizen of the Year. I guess you could call them “Citizens of the Year.” AFD is always willing to lend a hand to support local activities, and the cure for Muscular Dystrophy.

Harry Henchy – 1997 Grand Marshal. Harry was certainly no stranger to a lot of us. A past President of the Ashland Lions Club, and past Chairman of the Ashland School Committee, Harry spent countless hours making Ashland a better place to raise a family. I used to rib him about the amount of “face time” he was getting from Ashland cable covering the meetings.

Kay and Frank Powers – 1997 Citizen of the Year. Kay and Frank Powers were active in the Ashland Historical Society holding Curator and President positions. Kay also coordinated the donation of meals to the Pine Street Inn.

Tom Waldstein – 1998 Grand Marshal. Tom is used to standing in front of a lot of people. Like his predecessors, Tom has orchestrated the ebb and flow at Town Meeting as Moderator.

Norman “Bud” Stickney – 1998 Citizen of the Year. Bud was actively involved in the Garden Club, Ashland Historical Society, Ashland Directions, and the Council on Aging.

Bill Fuller – 1999 Grand Marshal. Bill was a well respected Ashland fireman and a born leader. Ashland Fire Department’s new Engine 7 was recently dedicated in his honor.

Larry Hunt – 1999 Citizen of the Year. Larry was active on many town boards including the Board of Selectmen. He and his wife Mary Lou have now retired to enjoy the fruits of their many years of community service.

Sally Larnis – 2000 Grand Marshal. Always with a big smile and a wave, Sally led the Ashland Day parade in “Grand” style from the Cadillac convertible. Sally is credited with her many years on the Council of Aging

Tony and Elaine Santospago – 2000 Citizen(s) of Year. Tony held many positions in town government including the School Building Committee (West Union St.), Planning Board, and Zoning Board of Appeals. I spent a few years with Tony on the ZBA. He brought professionalism to the board, personally drafted zoning change proposals, and was certainly not shy when voicing his opinion. Elaine was the quiet behind the scenes worker. A good balance.

Well there you have it. We made it to 2000 and there is still 10 years to go. The research was a bit exhaustive, so I will take a break before covering the remaining 10 years. I received a lot of feedback on this article and always appreciate your comments. Thank you everyone for sharing your memories and thoughts.

Steve Leacu for Ashland Directions
January 2011