Longtime Suffern residents Gardner & Josephine Watts and Connie Maslik received the Town of Ramapo’s Freedom Award at the annual 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony on Thursday, September 11 at Ramapo Town Hall.
The Freedom Award is presented annually for exemplary community service in memory of the town residents who lost their lives on September 11, 2001 and in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
Josephine & Gardner Watts
Gardner Watts and Josephine Watts were active in Community Affairs for over half a century in Suffern, organizing the Historical Hikers, starting the Suffern Village Museum and participating in a plethora of volunteer endeavors. Gardner taught History in Ramapo Central School District from 1938 to 1974, and received a Fulbright Scholarship in 1959.
Seven weeks after their wedding in August 1942, both enlisted in the U.S. Army. Gardner was sent to Panama while Josephine was stationed at Arlington Hall, a top secret base where she decoded Japanese messages. Josephine passed away in 2002.
Gardner celebrated his 100th Birthday this past April. In May 2010 he climbed to the crown of the Statue of Liberty and is believed to be the oldest person ever to make the climb.
Connie Maslik a resident of Suffern, worked for two decades at Suffern High School in the Food Service Department. After retiring in 1987, she began volunteering at the Christ Church Soup Kitchen and Food Pantry.
This program is particularly sensitive to the needs of senior citizens and residents on fixed incomes. Last year the Soup Kitchen served over 17,000 meals, operating seven days a week. It is the only program in Rockland County that is open every day including holidays serving all those in need.
In 2006 Connie became program coordinator and administered all aspects of the program from planning daily menus to overseeing 90 volunteers. She was also instrumental in starting an onsite food pantry for needy families to access on an emergency basis. After 26 years, Connie Maslik retired from her life’s passion – The Christ Church Feeding Ministry.