ESSEX JUNCTION The 2007 Vermont Agricultural Hall of Fame winners were honored Wednesday during the 2007 Champlain Valley Fair presented by Progressive, at a special luncheon in the Robert E. Miller Expo Centre.
The Vermont Agriculture Hall of Fame is celebrating its 5th year of honoring Vermonters who have made a significant contribution to farming and agriculture. The Hall of Fame was started in 2003 by a committee from the Vermont Farm Bureau, Champlain Valley Exposition Board of Directors and other interested community members.
The focus is on farmers as inductees, with four categories farmers, government, education and non-government (fairs, farm bureau, etc.) Photographs of past winners can be viewed in the entryway of the Robert E. Miller Expo Centre South at the Exposition. Photos of last years recipients were unveiled by Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie. The 2006 recipients were Arthur H. Packard, Sr., Robert Carlson, Robert G. Coombs, Jr., Merton Pike and Robert H. Wood, Jr.
This years Hall of Fame induction ceremonies and luncheon was hosted by the exposition and sponsored by Sentinel Investments of Montpelier. Vermont. Gov. James H. Douglas was on hand to make the presentations of framed prints of a Champlain Valley farm by artist Deborah Holmes to the new members and/or their families.
Kermit and Margaret Richardson of Orange for their long commitment to the Grange and their community. They have lived on land which has been in Margaret's family for more than 150 years and are a team as well as very distinct individuals. In 1957 they were named Vermont State Grange Young Couple of the Year, and they have never looked back!
Kermit has served as town moderator, school director, and as a member of the state legislature. He has been a member of the Riverside Grange for over 60 years, and his involvement includes many state offices as well as Master of the National Grange from 1993-2003.
Margaret has been a Grange member for over 59 years and was the first Lady Master of the Vermont State Grange, as well as the first in New England. She has served on the Orange County UVM Extension Advisory Board and is a former 4-H leader and Sunday-school teacher. Together, they have owned and operated Rich-ardson Insurance Agency for 50 years and a real estate business for 35 years. Former Vermont State Grange Master Phyllis Mason writes in the nomination: "They continue to be an inspiration to their counterparts as they remain involved locally and statewide."
J. Douglas "Doug" Webb of Fairfax was honored during the 2007 legislative session with a concurrent resolution for his life of community service. Serving as a selectboard member and Justice of the Peace for his town, he has also found time to work with the Franklin County Field Days Board for more than 30 years and the Vermont Maple Festival Committee for 37 years.
Along with his sons he owns and operates with his sons the 600-acre Maplewood Dairy Farm with 300 registered Holsteins. A good sized maple sugaring operation is included in that enterprise. He has worked in a variety of dairy associations, including Milk Promotion Ser- vices and the Milton Dairy Co-op Board. He received the Vermont League of Cities and Towns' Lifetime Achieve- ment Award in 2005 and has also been inducted into the Secretary of State's Town Officials Hall of Fame. His daughter, Linda Willmott, writes in her nomination; "I am very proud of all my Dad has done over the years and it has served as an inspiration for me to be involved in my own community."
Dr. James Gilmore, of South Burlington, is a recent retiree from the University of Vermont and is known af- fectionately as "Gilly" to students, colleagues, and friends alike. He taught in the Department of Animal Science at UVM for more than 30 years. His two abiding passions, dairy cows and students, came together with the Cooperative for Real Education in Agricultural Management, or CREAM. His devotion to teaching, Holstein breed organizations and shows, the Vermont Dairy Herd Improvement Association and his former students are a testament to his love of the industry.
His daughter, Susie Marchand, wrote: "Dad has given to me his love of cows, agriculture and teaching. I am now an educator at Shelburne Farms teaching people about their connection to agriculture. I would not be doing this today had it not been for my Dad. I know that he has had this same effect on so many of the other people he has connected with over his many years of teaching."
Ruth Towne of Berlin was nominated posthumously by the Washington County Farm Bureau. Extension agent, legislator, Morgan breeder and co-op director, Towne was actively engaged on the farm and as a partner with her husband, Roderick. She developed the Towne-Aire registry for the Morgan horse line, and her greatest triumph occurred when she won first place in the Pleasure Driving Championship at the First Grand National Morgan Horse Show in 1973. She served as president of the New England Morgan Horse Association and received the Dean C. Davis Award in 2001 for her dedication to the Morgan.
Her passion for politics and horses merged when she founded and became president of the Morgan Horse Heritage Association, working to keep the breed information and state farm from moving to Kentucky. She served in the Vermont statehouse from 1977 to 2004 and was chair of the House Agriculture Committee. She was the 1989 Vermont Farm Bureau Woman of the Year and was involved in a variety of community activities. As Gov. Douglas said during her eulogy, "Ruth was a woman of conviction, humor and diligence."
For more information about the Vermont Agricultural Hall of Fame, or to make nominations for the 2008 event, you may call the Vermont Farm Bureau office at 802-434-5646.