1998 Honoree


John Bigos has a pretty simple reason for volunteering. "I enjoy it," he says, sitting with his wife, Bernice, in their comfortable farm kitchen on Wildcat Hill Road, "I enjoy it and I've got Harwinton at heart."

Bigos was born on the Wildcat Hill Road farmstead nearly 78 years ago and has lived there all his life. He brought Bernice Yonkaitis of Bethlehem ti the farm when they married in 1944.

"When we first got married, we were dairy farmers. We both couldn't do volunteer work." he said.

In June, they'll have been together 54 years.

Bigos has served Harwinton in just about any way you can imagine. He was a selectman for several terms and a member of the Board of Tax Review for nine years. He was chief cook at the annual chicken fest at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church for many years and also barbecued chicken for Harwinton Center Fire Department where he was a member and auditor for many years. The Harwinton Ambulance Association is located in the firehouse so naturally he was an ambulance association member.

Bigos' volunteer work has earned him the Arthur B. Poole Award this year.

"It's quite an honor. I was floored when I got the call," Bigos said.

When his children were young, Bigos was a 4-H garden club leader. "The children had gardens. They used to sell vegetables. It's where they made a little spending money," Bigos recalled.

The couple has two children, John Bigos Jr., a computer teacher at Har-Bur Middle School and Christine Bigos Sweklo of Hadley, Mass., director of secondary education and the health education coordinator for Frontier Regional School District in South Deerfield, Mass. They also have four grandchildren, Elizabeth and John Adam Sewklo, and John Bigos III and Lacey Bigos.

A lover of land, Bigos became a tree and forest fire warden, a member of the Litchfield County Farm Bureau and the Connecticut Milk Producers Association and a member of the town's land revaluation committee. He was named by then-Gov. John Dempsey to the State Soil Conservation Advisory for Civil Defense. He's also been a member of the executive committee of the Harwinton Agricultural Society.

"Above all John Bigos Sr.'s life reflects the essence of a pure down-to-earth country gentleman," the Poole committee members said.

He also served on the Poole Award committee and was a trustee of the Lewis S. Mills High School scholarship committee.

To make money, Bigos, now retired, was a dairy and vegetable farmer, a school bus driver and foreman of the highway department until his retirement in 1986.


For Photos

Harwinton Historical Society Scrapbook
The Register Citizen Newspaper