ARTHUR B. POOLE
When she was
a member of the local American Red Cross “Hot
Squad” in the early 1980’s, Cherie Shanley
said she refrained from wearing the organization’s
cap to fires.
Shanley, did not mind going out at 4:00 a.m. to help
find clothing and shelter for families whose homes had
been destroyed by fire, but she said “I didn’t
want the notoriety.” This is just one example
of the quiet service that has won her, a lifelong resident
of Harwinton, the 15th annual Award.
Shanley, who is perhaps best known as the long time
Harwinton Town Clerk said she is overwhelmed by the
honor and perhaps undeserving of it.
Selection committee members, fellow Poole award honorees,
and town workers said the award is long overdue.
Poole award committee member
Linda Negri said she could not believe how surprised
and excited Shanley was when she was told about the
selection. “I think she is too modest” Negri
The committee has open nominations for the award each
Shanley was pretty much a community consensus choice
for 1989, committee members said. George Gribben, a
committee member and the 1980 Poole Award winner, said
the Harwinton Woman’s Club presented a petition
with 50 or 60 nominations for Shanley.
“It’s a wonderful choice,” said 1978
winner Sue Stephenson. “I really think I’m
in good company if she’s going to be on it.”
“Cherie has done lots of things town wide and
community wide that people don’t know about,”
said Marion Thierry, the 1981 winner, a lifelong friend
of Shanley and a co-worker in the Town Clerk’s
Shanley was a charter member when the Harwinton Historical
Society was founded in 1970. For a time she served as
the first woman deacon at the Harwinton Congregational
Church. And 20 years ago was a leader of the Harwinton
From 1976 – 1986 she was an active volunteer with
the Torrington area chapter of the American Red Cross,
also serving on that organization’s board of directors.
Shanley, a Republican, has been the Harwinton Town Clerk
since 1960 and it is in this role that most people have
come to know her.
Thierry, who is assistant town clerk, lauds the way
Shanley serves others. “She’s very helpful,
over and beyond what is required,” Thierry said.
Board of Assessors Chairman Joanne Ferraresso said Shanley
goes out of her way to help other town workers. “She’s
a walking history book (of the town),” Ferraresso
Shanley said she likes the town clerk position because
of “the people and the varied duties.” “No
two days are alike, and the people make it nice,”
Shanley said she is proud of the progress made during
her tenure, from the days when many entries were written
by hand in bound books to a mostly computerized office.
This summer, town government will move from cramped
quarters at Harwinton Consolidated School to a new municipal
Shanley also had a hand in making
the town hall a reality as a member of the building
committee. The tradition of elected service to Harwinton
has deep roots in Shanley’s family.
Henry O. Delay, was Harwinton’s First Selectman
in the late 1920’s. Her father, Henry J. Delay,
was a member of the towns Board of Assessors for many
years and a Connecticut state legislator for seven terms.
The late Henry J. Delay was also the third recipient
of the Poole award in 1986.
Her daughter, Alison Rabinko, was Poole award committee
chairman this year, and as such had to keep news of
the overwhelming number of nominations from her mother
until after the committee’s unanimous vote.
“I was thrilled,”
Rabinko said of her mother’s selection. “I
wasn’t surprised, because she deserved it.”
Harwinton Historical Society Scrapbook