Eleanor Woike has been selected as the 2018 recipient of the Harwinton Outstanding Citizen Award, which will be presented for the 44th time at a banquet in her honor on Friday, April 20th at Fairview Farm Golf Course. Ellie was born in Hartford, the youngest of 9 children, and moved to Harwinton in 1965 with her father. In 1973, she bought her own home in Harwinton, which is the same house she still resides in today.

Ellie graduated from Teacher’s College of Connecticut (now CCSU) with a Bachelor’s in Education. She received her Master’s Degree from Central Connecticut State College with a double major in Math & Chemistry. She received her Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study from UCONN and did additional graduate work at both Fairfield University and Southern Connecticut State University. Ellie was the Chairman of the Math Department and taught chemistry, computers, and mathematics at Terryville High School before retiring from teaching in 1994. During that time, she also worked part-time as Harwinton’s Town Treasurer. After retiring, she maintained her part-time position with different hours, serving as Town Treasurer for a total of 30 years before retiring in 2013.

Ellie has been involved in civic organizations throughout her 50+ years in Harwinton. In 2007, she was one of the original members of the Harwinton Garden Club and served as its president for 6 years, which is the maximum time one can be president. She is still currently a member and Past President. The Garden Club is known for designing and keeping up the Library gardens and also maintains the gardens at the three signs welcoming people as they enter Harwinton. With the Garden Club, she is currently focused on growing the tomato plants that are given away to children at the Library Book, Plant, and Bake Sale every May. In her first year growing the tomato plants, she applied to the Connecticut Master Gardeners Association for seeds and soil. That year, 2015, they gave away 40 plants. The second year they gave away 80 plants. Last year, they gave away 150 plants and, at this year’s sale, they are anticipating giving away 200 plants! Ellie couldn’t be happier about the increase in plants going to the younger generation. She commented, giving away these plants “lets the kids transplant them, gets their hands in the dirt and I love it! Children should know they can grow their own food.”

After leaving as Town Treasurer, Ellie took classes to become first a Master Gardener and then an Advanced Master Gardener. Through the Master Gardener Program, Ellie works with the Northwest Conservation District where she volunteers at the Plant Sale at Goshen Fairgrounds every spring. She really enjoys working that sale and meeting other Master Gardeners and regular gardeners and helping them to select suitable plants for their gardens.

She is also involved in the Harwinton Historical Society, where she served as President three different times and is presently on the Board of Directors as Immediate Past President. She originally joined in 1976, but found that she didn’t have time to fully commit. She doesn’t believe in committing halfway to something, so she left and eventually came back and is now a lifetime member. One of her biggest projects with the Historical Society was working on Memories of Harwinton. She got involved in this project because she has a background in desktop publishing and, in fact, the 1st set of books (150-200 copies) were printed on her home computer and the committee had them bound. The committee put in a lot of time, meeting weekly to compile this first book, and they subsequently published More Memories of Harwinton and Vignettes, which are currently available for sale year-round at the Town Clerk’s Office at Harwinton Town Hall.

Ellie became a member of the Harwinton Agricultural Society after Marion Thierry (1981 Harwinton Outstanding Citizen Recipient) got her involved. She has served as both Treasurer and Director within the Agricultural Society. She used to fill in at the office and volunteer at their soda booth during the Harwinton Fair and now works at the Country Store.

Ellie is also very active at her church, having served as Treasurer, Financial Secretary, and Christian Education Chairman at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Terryville.

When asked about being chosen as this year’s honoree, Ms. Woike commented, “I am speechless and humbled. To be put in the same category as previous winners is phenomenal.”

For pictures taken at the awards banquet