Preston named Hampton Rotary Citizen of the Year

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Three generations of family are united for the event

By Patrick Cronin

Hampton Union, Friday, May 13, 2011

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
Bob Preston sits and chats with Myla Gott after being named 2011 Citizen of the Year by the Hampton Rotary.
[Courtesy photo]

HAMPTON -- Bob Preston likes to help others behind the scenes with little fanfare, but on Tuesday he was front and center to receive recognition for everything he has done over the years, from providing a space for a soup kitchen to raising money for countless charities.

The owner of Preston Real Estate and current member of the Hampton Beach Area Commission was given the prestigious honor of being named Citizen of the Year by the Hampton Rotary Club.

"It was a surprise," said Preston, who showed up to the Rotary event at the Ashworth by The Sea Hotel believing the honor was going to be bestowed on his father, former Sen. Bob Preston.

"But I have to be honest, I don't really like the publicity. Personally it's just not me. Some people are better at it than I am. I just like to make a difference and help people out," the award winner said.

Preston's Rotary Club motto "service-above-self" attitude is what led him to be unanimously selected to receive the honor, said Rotarian John Nyhan, who nominated Preston as a Rotary Club award candidate.

Nyhan said that while he has known Preston for several years, he was amazed to learn about everything the businessman has done to help others.

Preston, he said, has not only gained the reputation of "going the extra mile to satisfy his clients and their tenants" as part of his family real-estate firm but also is a big supporter of the community.

Nyhan said in 1993 when the Rev. Ham was looking for a location to house a soup kitchen during the winter months, Preston allowed him to use one of the buildings the family owns on Ashworth Avenue at no cost.

"The soup kitchen is still operating, and every summer Bob hosts a cookout to thank all the volunteers," Nyhan said,

More recently, Preston worked to raise money to save the town's Mounted Patrol Unit and was a key player in ensuring there is a temporary stage at the beach while the new one is under construction, Nyhan said.

Preston as well has been one of the biggest supporters of the The 100 Club of New Hampshire, a statewide organization dedicated to assisting families of police officers and firefighters who have lost loved ones in the line of duty, according to Kevin Reusch.

Preston is a past president of the organization and currently serves on its board of directors.

"He is always out there raising money for the organization," Reusch said.

His friend David Hartnett, who has known Preston for more than 40 years, said Preston's gestures of kindness truly make him a Citizen of the Year.

"When the kids had a neighborhood outdoor sleepover in a back yard, the next morning there would be a dozen doughnuts waiting for them," Hartnett said. "When a local contractor was in trouble and he was a good guy, Bob always seemed to find work for him on one his properties."

Preston does much for others who need a helping hand and usually does it by saying, "'Please keep this between us,'" Hartnett said.

"Bob is a person you can always depend on, and as far as I can tell the Seacoast is a much better place for it," Hartnett said.

Bill Gott said Preston has been an angel to his family by helping his daughter, Myla, who is recovering from a traumatic brain injury.

"He's Myla second father," said Gott, who said Myla was close to Preston's son Bobby Preston III.

"Its a great honor for not only Bob, but for the community to have citizens like Bob," Gott said.

Preston's son, a sophomore at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas, flew home to Hampton to be at the Rotary Club ceremony in his dad's honor.

He called him an exemplary father, friend and citizen. But a golfer — not so much.

"My father always said, 'You know, Bob, our family is pretty lucky, we are pretty fortunate and it's important to give back,'" Bob Preston III said. "Well pops, Lindsey and I are the lucky ones. We are so proud to have you as our dad."

As part of the ceremony, Sen. Nancy Stiles, R-Hampton, presented Preston with a proclamation and the Rotary gave him a $1,000 check to go toward the Friends of Hampton Mounted Patrol.

The elder Preston, the former senator, said he was proud of his son.

"I know he doesn't like recognition," he said. "But he deserves it."

The Citizen of the Year said he is just doing what he was taught by his father, who used to say, "When you're part of a community, you can either live off it or you can participate in it."

Preston said he chose to participate.

Bob Preston is surprised to receive the Hampton Rotary 2011 Citizen of the Year Award. His son, Bob Preston III, who had flown from Texas for the ceremony, attended the event.
[Ioanna Raptis Photo]/div>
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