Wolcott Historical Society News - June 2019
By Florence Goodman
On Saturday, May 11, 2019 I was invited to a "Ceremony of Remembrance" for three Wolcott Lions who passed away this year. As I stood at the monument located on the Lion's Fairground property with family, friends and Lion's members and listened to Corky Mazurek speak about each man, I thought it was an important part of our history that should be shared with others who were not present. So this month I will share with you Corky's words at this beautiful ceremony.
"We gather today to pay our respects to three outstanding Wolcott Lions who have unfortunately left us. Richard T. Renkun Jr, Warren Barratt, and Edward Wilensky all passed away this year. We were joined with them by a common bond to help the less fortunate. These three gentlemen received numerous awards and served our community collectively for 128 years. I would like all of us to remember the words of Albert Schweitzer. 'It is not enough merely to exist. It's not enough to say, I'm earning enough to support my family. I do my work well. I'm a good father, husband, and churchgoer. That's all very well. But you must do something more. Seek always to do some good, somewhere. Every man has to seek in his own way to realize his true worth. You must give some time to your fellow man. Even if it's a little thing, do something for those who need help, something for which you get no pay but the privilege of doing it. For remember, you don't live in a world all your own. Your brothers are here too.' I believe all of us here today believe these gentlemen lived by this rule as we do.
Richard Renkun was married to the love of his life Ellie for 45 years. He was a 27-year member or our club having received The Lion of the Year award in both 2003 and again in 2010. Additionally he received the prestigious Melvin Jones Fellowship Award in 2003 and the Ambassador for Sight Award in 2007. For his ongoing support of the Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation he was awarded "the Loyal Shepard" and "Fellow and Companion for Life awards." Dick was instrumental in the development of our beautiful property. The monument next to me, which now carries his name, was designed by Dick as a lasting tribute to our deceased members.
Warren Barratt was married to his wife Kay for over 36 years. He was the father of three children Judith, Richard and William. Warren was a 45-year member of the Wolcott Lions and was the recipient of the Knight of the Blind Award in 1996 and received a Melvin Jones Fellowship Award in 2009 for his humanitarian service. Warren was awarded a life membership in the Wolcott Lions Club. Warren was a quiet man particularly during club meetings, but he was first in line to volunteer his time at a club activity. I can still see Warren sitting at the entrance to our pancake breakfast greeting patrons and collecting money.
Edward Wilensky was mayor of Wolcott for 10 years. He was happily married to Terry for 70 years. He served in the army in WWII and received numerous awards and citations for bravery including the Purple Heart and the Bronze Medal. He was a proud member of the Wolcott Lions for 54 years and was awarded a Life Membership. He served twice as our Club President, once in 1973 and then again in 1981. Ed was the recipient of the esteemed Melvin Jones Fellowship. He was an extremely friendly, engaging gentleman who always wore a smile and a white shirt and tie. He was a politician in the good sense of the word and could speak at length, anytime, on any subject.
In closing I would like to share a quote by Maya Angelou that best describes the lives and character of these three gentlemen. 'If you find in your heart to care for somebody else, you will have succeeded.' Thank you Dick, Warren, and Ed for being a part of our lives and our mission. We are going to miss you. And thank you Ellie, Kay, and Terry for sharing them with us."
Thank you Corky Mazurek for allowing me to share this with my readers. These three men served the Lions and the residents of Wolcott well and we thank them for the time they spent helping others.
The Lions monument was the brainchild of Richard Renkun who wanted to do something after his best friend and fellow Lion, Lou Albert passed away. On the back of the monument is the following inscription: "Donated by Lion Richard T. Renkun Jr. dedicated in memory of my best friend Louis J. Albert and all Lions that have served."
(Information for this article was written by Corky Mazurek and delivered on May 11, 2019 at the Lion's Ceremony of Remembrance)
Richard T. Renkun)
The monument donated by Richard Renkun Jr.
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