WARRENSBURG - A man characterized as the Good Samaritan of Warrensburg has been named Citizen of the Year by the Warrensburg Chamber of Commerce.
Retired teacher and local cemetery superintendent Peter Haggerty has been awarded the honor.
For years, Haggerty has been responding to the needs of others without being asked, quietly volunteering his time and talents to make lives brighter in town, Chamber President Lynn Smith said Monday.
"This guy is phenomenal - Peter helps people, families, kids, the elderly - by seeing a need and doing what needs to be done," she said. "He runs errands, takes stuff to the dump for them, helps them move, tutors students whose parents can't afford it, you name it."
When told of the award, which is normally accompanied by a tribute banquet, Haggerty asked to remain out of the spotlight, Smith said. The two decided that the money that the Chamber would have spent on the affair be redirected to charity, Smith said.
"Peter is very down-to-earth, very low-key," she said. "He's a genuine person."
One of Haggerty's four daughters, Lyn Haggerty, noted that her father and her mother Judy have taken in many people through the years into their household, providing room, board and friendship for people in transition or in tough situations.
"People who don't have someplace to go end up living with my parents," she said. "He'd say 'If I can help somebody, then that's what I should do."
Josie Baker of Warrensburg, was one of those taken into the Haggerty household and helped out immensely, she said this week. Years ago, Baker and her four young daughters were welcomed into the Haggerty home, and they were given a boost when they needed it, Baker recalled.
"They were gracious then, and they are gracious now, and we've been friends ever since," she said. "Peter would do anything for anybody."
Baker said Haggerty cuts wood and delivers it to those he knows need wood to keep warm in winter. Baker said she knew he routinely took care of a woman's landscaping, and he shovels people out in winter, all without seeking compensation.
"Peter does a lot of odd jobs for people," she said. "He's there for anyone that needs him."
At age 55, Haggerty retired in 1996 from a 30-year tenure as an Earth Science teacher at Hudson Falls High School.
Lynn Haggerty said her father and mother shun materialism, showing little interest in travel and possessions. Instead, their money goes to charity, she said.
Local resident Jean Hadden said that Haggerty showed up to help out after a fire tore through her home in 2003. Haggerty worked for weeks, helping her salvage her household goods and collected historical materials.
"Peter always has a ready, helping hand for those who need it, looking for no fanfare and expecting nothing in return," she said, noting his humility. "He has cleared dead trees on my property, dug holes to plant new trees, sanded my dooryard in winter to prevent me from falling, and delivered meals to me on holidays."
Peter's community service doesn't stop with these personalized efforts.
He helps maintain the United Methodist Church and has helped out painting for North Country Ministry's outreach center. He also volunteers at the Warrensburgh Museum of Local History and delivers Meals on Wheels, Hadden said.
"He's always ready to help, and in most cases, people don't need to ask for assistance," she said.
Looking back at former Citizens of the Year
On and off since 1979, the Warrensburg Chamber of Commerce has chosen local people for the Citizen of the Year Award, recognizing their engagement in community affairs, their prominence in community development, or service to others.
Here's a rundown of the prior Citizen of the Year award winners, according to the Chamber records:
Kathy Quintal and Bunny Gonzales were jointly awarded in 2008 for enriching the lives of hundreds of area children. For Gonzales, it was her 22 years of year-round work on Operation Reindeer, by distributing food and toys to children in needy families at Christmas time. For Quintal, the award was prompted by her decades of work on behalf of a variety of local community organizations, primarily Girl Scouts, Little League, the local school booster club, and the Warrensburg Chamber of Commerce.
For 2007, Jan Higgins was awarded for her work in youth development through her decades of operating the Hobby Horse preschool, teaching youngsters about caring for others and the elements of social responsibility.
Lenore Smith was awarded in 2006, primarily for her work - a lot of it hands-on effort - in buying up distressed properties and rehabilitating them into attractive residences and apartment houses. Her rehabilitation and stewardship of properties has been a substantial influence in beautifying the town.
In 2000, Andrew Sprague was awarded for his work in youth character development. Sprague worked for Warren County Cornell Cooperative Extension, mentoring a variety of youth groups. Sprague's work leading wilderness expeditions was considered instrumental in building self-reliance and resourcefulness in hundreds of area youth.
Town Councilman and local ranch owner Austin Perry was awarded in 1996. He was instrumental in bringing affordable senior housing to town, as well as boosting medical services locally and in the southern Adirondacks through his work on behalf of Hudson Headwaters Health Network. He was also an effective advocate for seniors' issues in the area.
Jerry Quintal, owner of famed Oscar's Meats in Warrensburg was awarded in 1995. Quintal was recognized for helping with Chamber projects and community events, as well as supporting various local charities. Quintal's claim to fame in later years was his tenure as town supervisor from 1998 through 2005. During his terms, he launched the Warrensburg Industrial Park, initiated the town curfew and boosted police protection in town. Also, he was a leader locally in Internet marketing for Oscar's, familiarizing people internationally with Warrensburg.
In 1994, former Warren County Sheriff Fred Lamy was named Citizen of the Year. Lamy brought the county's law enforcement agency into the modern age, computerizing its dispatch operations, bringing enhanced 911 services to the county, bringing high technology to law enforcement and many other critical accomplishments. Also, the Lake George police force was absorbed into the county Sheriff's Department during his tenure. For his work, he received many statewide awards and brought recognition to the county. He was appointed by Gov. Pataki in 1999 to serve on the state Commission of Correction, a tenure he completed last year.
In 1993, Jack Toney, owner of Jacob & Toney's Meat Store of the North, was named Citizen of the Year. He has been a a silent backer of many high-profile efforts at the school and in community economic development, as well as being a mainstay of the business community. Also, he served as a director of Hudson Headwaters Health Network during its years of substantial expansion. All his community work didn't take away from his time behind his store counter, personally serving customers and dispensing philosophy and his political views.
James A. Baker, former director of the Warren County Office for the Aging, was the award winner in 1992. Due to his abiding concern for the elderly, Baker worked to expand the agency's programs and outreach. Baker also has been a prominent lay minister, attending to other people's spiritual needs and more worldly concerns, too.
In 1991, Lorraine Morey was named Citizen of the Year, primarily for her work with children and various charities.
For many years, she was a scout and 4H leader, and was active for 52 years in the work of the Warrensburg United Methodist Church, particularly in fundraisers. Her charitable work included raising money tirelessly for the Florence LaPoint's community charities, primarily Operation Santa Claus.
In 1990, Louise Hall was awarded for her work, both in the outreach work of the United Method Church and her substantial service to youth as leader of Boy and Cub Scouts.
In 1989, Calvin and Jeannette Engle were awarded joint Citizens of the Year. Together, they operated Engle's Dept. Store, a retail landmark in town well into the 1980s. Cal was also immersed in the work of various community organizations, and he served as town supervisor from 1984 through 1987. During his tenure, the town launched the preliminary efforts to develop a sewer system and bring community planning to town.
In 1988 Mabel Tucker was awarded Citizen of the Year. For decades, she was Town Historian, chronicling the towns events and its residents' lives, and helping hundreds of people with genealogical research.
In 1987, Maurice Richards was awarded. He was recognized for his community service, primarily through a variety of civic organizations, including the local Masonic Lodge.
In 1986, the awardee was Jennie Cameron, librarian of the Richards Library in Warrensburg from the mid-1940s through 1990. Her work began as assistant librarian in the mid 1930s. Committed to service for the community, she instituted story hours and advocated for the library's children's room addition in the 1960s, as well as its extensive renovation in 1970s. She and other librarians in the area helped launch the Southern Adirondack Library System, a regional media exchange network.
In 1985, Charles Hastings was named Citizen of the Year, primarily for his decades of tenure as a town official, including 20 years as town supervisor, serving between 1964 and 1984. Perhaps his most notable accomplishment was buying a grand home on Main St. to accommodate the town Senior Citizens Center.
In 1984, Steve Parisi received the award. At the time, he was awarded for his work organizing and promoting the Chamber's World's Largest Garage Sale and other community work. Nowadays, as director of the Warrensburg Museum of Local History, Parisi is immersed in preserving and presenting Warrensburg's bygone days. Parisi and others have devoted thousands of hours to preparing exhibits, artifacts and photographs, along with new interpretive signs and materials at the museum, set to reopen this summer. He is also a co-owner of a leading Bed and Breakfast operation.
In 1983, the entire Warrensburg Volunteer Fire Co. received the award. This organization was lauded for its extensive community service, through its longstanding sponsorship of holiday and family-oriented events, including visits with Santa, the town Halloween Parade and the Smokeeater's Jamboree. Their service also includes sponsoring dozens of teams and offering an array of scholarships. In recent years, they've taken their commitment further, sponsoring the local high school after-Prom party, holding the annual community Seniors Thanksgiving Dinner, sponsoring summer AAU basketball, and presenting the annual Sept. 11 Memorial Service, which grows in prominence and popularity each year.
In 1982, Jane LeCount won the Citizen of the Year award. LeCount helped launch the World's Largest Garage Sale, working tirelessly through the years and taking it to a level of national renown. She also has since the 1970s boosted this town through continual promotional work, besides being a local pillar in the real estate business regardless of market conditions. She also has been involved in a wide variety of community groups and charitable efforts.
In 1981, Florence LaPoint was named Citizen of the Year, and it was no surprise to any local resident. For decades, she and her mother worked for many months each year raising money for their Operation Santa Claus, then shopped for toys and clothes for area needy families, then spent countless hours wrapping the presents with other volunteers. She also operated a dance studio out of her home, and several generations of children learned dance routines from her. Lapoint's Broadway-style dance recitals, with proceeds going to charity, filled the local gymnasium to capacity. Her chief vocation, however, was that of a teacher at Warrensburg Elementary, and in her classrooms, children learned about charity and caring for others as well as academics.
In 1980, Warrensburg's Senior Citizens as a group received the Chamber's award, for the dozens of ways they individually donate their time to community service, as well as through the local Fifty-Plus group.
In 1979, Isabel Cornell received the Citizen of the Year award. Cornell founded the Warrensburgh Museum of Local History in the mid-1970s, then worked there for years, collecting artifacts and displaying them for the public's enjoyment and edification. After her death in the 1980s, her husband carried on the tradition of operating the town museum.