DECK THE HALLS: Women’s Club dives into the season with Holly Luncheon

The holiday season opened with good cheer on Thursday, Dec. 5, when the Bedford Women’s Club held its annual FIR awards ceremony and lighting of the town’s Memorial Tree, an evergreen at Bedford Presbyterian Church, 4 Church Road.

A luncheon and silent auction at the Manchester Country Club preceded the FIR awards – commendations for friendship, inspiration and recognition. A welcome from Kathleen McMillan, co-president of the BWC, warmed the banquet room. Club member Joan Danieli introduced the Bedford High School Chorus and its director, Susan Reilly, who led a round of songs. A holiday trivia contest followed, led by member Eileen Kane. Then Nancy Herper, chair of the Town Memorial Tree Committee, announced three special guests, the recipients of this year’s FIR awards.

The award winners are Bedford residents Denise Rotier for friendship, Donna Guibord for inspiration, and M. Ralph Dieter for recognition of his military service.

Rotier accepted the friendship award amid plentiful applause. She was cited for her volunteer work, her positive attitude and for striving to build a sense of community among her peers.

Rotier has served in many capacities during her years with the Bedford Women’s Club, a social club founded in 1905. She is a past president. She has worked as a board member, monthly charity coordinator and coordinator of Olde Towne Day.

She has been a lector, a Catechism teacher and a women’s guild member at St. Elizabeth Seton parish. She enjoys welcoming newcomers to the parish.

The Trinity High School Robotics Team has benefitted from her fundraising skills. In addition, Rotier has coordinated the school’s parent-volunteer group and helped scores of Girl Scouts attain scholarships.

She and her husband, Bob, a chemical engineer, lived in several states before relocating to Bedford. Along the way, she found that being a foster mom when needed and a stay-at-home mom to her son, Matthew, brought deep satisfaction.

Rotier said she finds it a natural inclination to befriend others who are new to the club or to the community.

“If you’re new to a group, it takes courage to walk in for the first time,” Rotier said. “I like to take the first step and greet a newcomer at the door. There is so much history behind people. You just enjoy getting to know them.”

The sentiment was shared by Guibord, winner of the inspiration award. Guibord, a resident since 2007, was selected for inspiring the continued beautification of Bedford’s public gardens. The Bedford Garden Club and local landscaper, Scott Lapointe, support her war on weeds.

Annuals and perennials at Bedford’s newest park, the Bedford Village Common, and several other sites are colorful witnesses to her care and the garden club’s ministrations. Guibord, currently the chair of the Community Gardens organization, is a past president of the garden club.

Her family and many others, including local rock wall builder Tony Luongo and Jim Stanford – Bedford’s director of public works – have joined the ongoing effort made by Guibord and her associates. Guibord’s husband, Alan, and the couple’s children have volunteered help on many occasions.

“We all can do our part to preserve our wonderful town,” Guibord said. “Thank you for this award.”

Cheers then rang out for Dieter, winner of the recognition award in appreciation of his service as a veteran of the U.S. Air Force. He joined in 1950 at age 17, upon graduation from high school.

North Korea invaded South Korea five months after Dieter enlisted. The Korean War commenced and Dieter became a skilled radio man. He served in Japan and also in Korea during the Korean War.

Dieter may have been among the first to hear via his radio that a Korean cease fire was secured. The armistice was signed in 1953 and Dieter headed home.

His experience as a radio man served him well, for he later attended a radio technical college and won a berth at a computer firm. He then joined Digital Equipment Company, serving in Massachusetts and in Bedford before retiring in 1992.

Dieter, a Mason since the mid-1960s, said he believes in using one’s talents to help others. He is the chaplain of VFW Post 8401. He has served Bedford as assistant moderator of local and state elections. He is affiliated with the Friends of the Town of Bedford Cemeteries.

Dieter also has been active in the Boy Scouts for four decades. He is the founder of Troop 414, chartered in Bedford through the Bedford Presbyterian Church. Scores of young Scouts have attained Eagle level with Dieter’s help.

A masterful photographer, Dieter is married 58 years to his wife, Alberta. Earlier in the day, she had referred to him at the luncheon as her best friend. He and Alberta are the parents of Susan and David. The son joined the Boy Scouts more than 40 years ago and thereby triggered his father’s interest in the organization.

Dieter took the microphone at the awards ceremony and thanked the BWC for presenting him with the recognition award. He said that the best thing people can do for each other is to care for each other.

“We do nothing alone,” Dieter said. “I have the support and the love of a good woman.”

The memorial tree-lighting ceremony, witnessed by dozens of representatives of the police department and the fire department, included a presentation of the American flag by members of the VFW and the American Legion. It included the playing of “Taps” for the departed. In addition, more songs from the high school chorus entertained those present.

Thanks all around

Kudos went out at the Holly Luncheon to luncheon co-chairs Mary Jo Howe, Becki Kuhns and Bobbe Fairman.

The trio chaired a committee that, according to Howe, was so well populated with volunteers that one out of every five members of the 160 members of the club was on its roster.

Thanked, too, was Gen Miller, who coordinated a charitable donation at the luncheon that secured scores of gifts, clothing items and toiletries for Meals-on-Wheels.

BWC Co-President Beverly O’Bryon, emcee of the outdoor FIR awards ceremony, and program designer Jan Conover agreed that the day was a memorable success.

Not to be forgotten by the club’s members were a host of sponsors of some splendid auction gifts – floral arrangements, baskets of chocolates, gift certificates and the like – donated by local businesses and individuals.

The gifts came from Hannaford, Harvest Market, Bedford Fields, Meat Shop, Market Basket, T-Bones Great American Eatery, Starbucks, Purple Finch, Dunkin Donuts, Fresh Market, Grenon Trading Company, Royal Bouquet, Amherst Garden Center, Elizabeth Grady, Get Fit for Women, Preference, River Road Tavern, Taipei & Tokyo Restaurant – and from member Nita Beale, who donated homemade candy bourbon balls.

For more information on Bedford Women’s Club events, the Holly Luncheon or the FIR awards, visit the club’s website at www.bed