1989 Honoree


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 said.

The committee has open nominations for the award each year.
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 office.

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 4H Club.

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 said.

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,” she said.

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 center.

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.

Shanley’s grandfather, 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.”

For Photos

Harwinton Historical Society Scrapbook
Register-Citizen Newspaper