The Stamford Historical Society Presents the Virginia T. Davis, Stamford Historical Society Distinguished Service Award to Chet Buttery
21 September 2000
Address by Ron Marcus, Librarian
Good afternoon. It is a pleasure for me to present this year’s Virginia T. Davis, Stamford Historical Society Distinguished Service Award to an individual who is most certainly deserving of it.
This award is given in memory of a wonderful person, whose devotion to the City of Stamford through this organization was summed up in an Advocate editorial which said: “She believed that a community’s sense of its own history gave it a solidity and depth that it otherwise would not have. She was right in thinking so.”
Our year 2000 recipient is a remarkable member whose total number of volunteer hours, if known, would have to be counted in the tens of thousands. He grew up in Stamford and attended its public schools. Upon America’s entry in WWII he immediately wanted to enlist in the military, but his father placed a priority on education. Upon graduating from Stamford High School in 1944, he enlisted in the Marine Corps at the age of seventeen, and served in the Pacific until 1946. Shortly after his return to Stamford, he began working for the telephone company, remaining with them for thirty-five years. Having resided in Belltown, he began volunteering at the Belltown Fire Department in 1951. Eventually he served as Assistant Chief and interim Chief for a two month period. Because of his interest in the history of firefighting, he joined the Stamford Historical Society and became an active member of the Library Committee. Upon the death of Lois Dater he assumed responsibility of the Society’s photo archives, chairing this position for a number of years. During this time he introduced the preliminary process of preparing photographs for computerization.
In 1991, as part of Stamford’s 350th anniversary, he was a dynamic force behind the Society’s major exhibit «Fire! Fire! A History of Stamford Firefighting, Paid and Volunteer». In conjunction with this, a commemorative booklet was published, which contains a history of all of the Stamford fire companies and the Stamford Firefighters Burn Foundation.
Today he is still a member of the Library Committee, contributing time to the photo archives with his wife, Ann, during the warm weather. Winter finds them in Florida.
Earlier I referred to him serving in the Marine Corps during WWII. His recollections and thoughts about this are included in Stamford High School Principal Tony Pavia’s book «An American Town Goes To War». Though our Award recipient may be modest about it, those who have worked with him I am sure would agree that he is indeed representative of those found in Tom Brokaw’s bestseller «The Greatest Generation».
It now gives me great pleasure in presenting this year’s award to Chester W. Buttery!
Photos © Stamford Historical Society