PLATTSBURGH - The United Way of Clinton and Essex Counties Inc. has named Daniel E. and Gayle M. Alexander recipients of this year's Dorothy and Alan Booth Distinguished Citizen Award.
The Elizabethtown couple was presented the award during the organization's annual dinner at the West Side Ballroom Feb. 27. The award, established in 1985, recognizes its recipients for their commitment to the community.
The Alexanders exemplify what the Booths stood for, said United Way executive director John C. Bernardi
"Dorothy and Alan Booth epitomize volunteers, community spirit and compassion," said Bernardi. "Dan and Gayle are also credibly generous to the community with their money, their time, their energy and their enthusiasm."
"I like to refer to them as 'the dynamic duo,'" Bernardi added with a laugh.
The award was a surprise to the Alexanders, as the couple thought they were attending the annual dinner just as they have done in the past, to support the United Way and honor the Distinguished Citizen Award recipients.
"We were surprised and humbled to be considered in the company of the former recipients," said Dan Alexander. "John confirmed that we would be attending but did not say why."
"We always try to attend each year so in hindsight it was a strange question," added Gayle Alexander.
The Alexanders, who have both been avid supporters of the United Way, each said they were humbled when called to the podium. Dan Alexander, who chaired last year's fundraising campaign, said, like those honored before them, their commitments to the community aren't made to win awards.
"Our actions are based on the way we were brought up by our families, schools, church and our sense of responsibility to give back to the community," he said. "Gayle and I have been very fortunate in life; we've worked hard, enjoyed the fruits of those efforts and have been able to share with others. That in itself is reward enough, but to be so recognized with this award was truly a surprise."
"We get so much satisfaction and joy to be able to give our time to causes in which we really believe," agreed Gayle Alexander. "I think we get back much more than we give. We were truly touched to receive this award."
The award meant even more to the Alexanders as they were the first honorees to receive the award since it was given last year to Gordon J. Hazel Jr., who recently passed away after a long battle with prostate cancer.
"It is quite an honor to be considered in the same company as Gordon, the Booths and, for that matter, all of those who have been singled out in the past for this honor," said Dan Alexander. "One can't help but feel a little overwhelmed and even undeserving when you look at the list of recipients. We are both honored and humbled to be a part of that distinguished group."
"If I had to share an award with anyone, I can't think of a better person to share it with than my wife of 34 years and counting," he added. "She has a very big heart and is tireless in her support of community projects."
"That goes double for me," added Gayle Alexander. "I am always in awe of how much Dan can fit into a day, from early morning meetings to late nights in his study. I use him as my role model. I'm very pleased to see that kind of dedication recognized by our peers."
Bernardi said naming the Alexanders as this year's recipients was a well-made decision.
"This couple works extraordinarily hard for causes they believe in ... they are truly deserving of the classification as distinguished citizens," he said. "I'm so proud to be a friend of theirs. They're two people that I respect and admire a tremendous amount and they're both an incredible asset to our community."
In addition to Gordon J. Hazel Jr., past recipients of the Dorothy and Alan Booth Distinguished Citizen Award include: Dorothy Crawford, 2008; Bonnie Black, 2007; Larry and Judy Jeffords, 2006; Michael Whalen, 2005; Andrew Schonbek, 2004; Dr. Kjeli Dahlen, 2003; Robert C. Smith, 2002; Robert Bryson Sr., 2001; William W. Slocum, 2000; Shirley O'Connell, 1999; Roderic Giltz, 1998; Kenneth LaPlante, 1997; Louise Tanner, 1996; William Wood, 1995; Robert and Helen Booth, 1994; Elizabeth Wheeler, 1993; Karl Kramer, 1992; Charles McCutcheon, 1991; Laura Jean Ingalls, 1990; Rita Banks, 1989; Joseph P. McGrath, 1988; Homer F. West, 1987; Marianne Littna, 1986; and Alan and Dorothy Booth, 1985.
(Editor's Note: Denton Publications owns and operates this newspaper.)