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Norris sisters to be honored, the Pride of Middlesex

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Rachel Norris Bridger and Ruby Lee Norris

by Fernando Atienza

Sisters Rachel Norris Bridger and Ruby Lee Norris, who were the unanimous choices for this year’s Pride of Middlesex Award, will be honored with a banquet on Saturday, April 18, at 6:30 p.m. in the Christchurch School dining facility.

Burt Alexander told the club that all tickets were sold within a couple of weeks of the announcement. Club president Joe Brinkley remarked that “the community’s response and support in recognizing the two awardees was phenomenal, and we are so thankful to the people of the county.”

Now in its 10th year, the “Pride of Middlesex” (POM) award is given annually to recognize and honor individuals or groups that exemplify the Rotary motto of “Service Above Self.” Previous POM recipients have included such notable county residents (and organizations) as Louise Gray, Sherman Holmes, Ruth Barr, Middlesex volunteer fire departments, the Middlesex volunteer rescue squads, Joe Fears, Jack Fackler (Hands Across Middlesex), Tom Hardin, and Charles Bristow.

Funds raised will be donated to the charities and causes selected by the honorees. Event chairman Bob Tassone added that “those who are unable to attend but would like to show their support to the honorees’ causes may send their contribution to Pride of Middlesex, c/o Middlesex Rotary Club; or directly to the Middlesex YMCA or Hands Across Middlesex, in the honorees’ names.

In other news, Charles S. Ylonen, simply known to us as Chuck, passed away last week. Chuck was an inveterate and dedicated Rotarian, philanthropist and entrepreneur. He was a past district governor and a stalwart supporter of the Rotary Foundation.

While his lifetime work was dedicated to Rotary, he was also a successful businessman having nurtured and grown  a humble mom and pop store in Henrico County into a multi-million dollar chain of “Chuck’s Supermarkets” in the Richmond area.

He was one of the original “Frogmen” (prototype of the modern day SEAL) who specialized in underwater demolition. In WWII, he served in the Mediterranean Sea, the Suez Canal region and the Persian Gulf. True to his roots, he lived by the basic Navy core values of honor, courage and commitment, as well as Rotary’s motto of Service Above Self.

He is survived by his wife Jean, daughters Janet, Karen and Katheryn, and seven grandchildren (see obit on page A7). The Rotary world grieves his passing.

If you are interested, please join us any Tuesday at 7:30 a.m. at The Pilot House Restaurant in Topping. Breakfast is on us. Call Joe Brinkley at 776-7309 or ask any Rotarian for more information.

posted 04.15.2009

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