By Julie Huss firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — DERRY — She’s been a first in many things.
For Janet Conroy, being Derry’s first female member on the Board of Selectman and the first woman to join the Derry Village Rotary make up only a small portion of her list of accomplishments in town.
Conroy was named the Greater Derry/Londonderry Chamber of Commerce’s Citizen of the Year for 2012, and was honored last week for her many years of service and volunteerism.
Christopher George and his Mr. Steer market in Londonderry took Business of the Year honors.
Awards were presented Oct. 25 during the Chamber’s annual awards event.
Conroy spent many years as a state representative, and served on many boards and committees. She was instrumental in the beginning of the Marion Gerrish Community Center and still serves on the center’s board today.
She also was a reporter for the Derry News, taking on hot topics in town and publishing poems regularly about what was going on.
Town historian Richard Holmes nominated Conroy for the top award and presented her with the honor.
“In 1976 (she was a selectman), a town ‘father,’” Holmes said. “But she was instead a town mother. Derry was, and still is, lucky to have you as a town mother.”
Conroy said she was happy to jump in when the opportunities came up.
“This is quite an honor and very unexpected,” she said. “Richard Holmes is an expert on town history and things antique and I fit into both of those categories.
Conroy said she always liked to take chances.
“You take the opportunities life hands you and you build on them,” she said. “The road behind me is a lot longer than the road in front of me. The opportunities to serve always came at the right time, or I was in the right place at the right time.”
Elizabeth LaRocca of Public Service of New Hampshire introduced George and presented him with his award.
“He has a big heart, a tremendous work ethic,” she said. “He is a treasured citizen and his business is a treasure and a very important part our community Londonderry.”
For George, it’s been 38 years of hard work, moving his business to different locations and dealing with a struggling economy.
“I want to thank my customers and friends who gave me support,” George said. “I wouldn’t be here tonight (without them). It turned out okay and I’m very happy.”
Both Conroy and George will be special guests and will ride in the annual Derry holiday parade on Nov. 24.
Holmes presented Conroy with the ceremonial top hat to wear while she rides in the parade. This year the hat had a feminine flair added with decorative bows and ribbons.