Service Above Self

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Holman Receives Rotary Award

By Liz Premo, Atlantic News Staff Writer

Atlantic News, Friday, June 10, 2005

[The following article is courtesy of Atlantic News]
HONORED GUEST -- John Holman (right), Hampton Rotary Club's newly-named Citizen of the Year, is pictured here with Rotary members Bob Casassa (left) and Catherine Redden, who nominated him for this year's award.
[Atlantic News Photo by Liz Premo]

HAMPTON -- Historian. Volunteer. Patriot. Veteran. Husband, father and friend.

These are just a few of the words that describe Hampton's very own John M. Holman. And as of Tuesday morning of this week, he bears yet another title: that of the Hampton Rotary Club's Citizen of the Year for 2005.

Surrounded by scores of Rotarians and numerous special guests, and seated next to his wife Connie, Holman was feted at the club's weekly breakfast meeting held at the Ashworth by the Sea. The presentation of the official plaque proclaiming Holman's new status was highlighted by admiring personal remarks and praise offered by several of those who came to celebrate alongside him.

The introductions were offered by Rotary member Bob Casassa, who explained that the annual award is given to an individual "who has contributed to the general benefit of our Rotary community ... and who exemplifies Rotary's motto of 'Service Above Self.'"

Observing that Holman volunteers about 30 hours per week at the Lane Memorial Library converting and posting historical and current material related to Hampton on the library's Web site, Casassa recognized the honoree for "his many years serving our community and in particular, his efforts in preserving and celebrating our past."

Also noted was Holman's dedication to keeping alive the memory of Hampton's military personnel lost in battle, through the American flag-bedecked street signs that bear their names. He has faithfully maintained the US flags flying over Veterans' graves in Hampton cemeteries; was involved in the installation of a children's park in memory of another serviceman; and spearheaded the establishment of the Babyland section of the High Street Cemetery in Hampton.

Rotary member and Lane Memorial Library Director, Catherine Redden offered her comments next. Redden, who nominated Holman both this year and two years ago, told of John's busy "office" in a corner of the library's staff room, and the volume of work he has accomplished there since becoming a volunteer in 1997.

His efforts go beyond the staff room, too. When he isn't sitting at his computer in the library, said Redden, he can be found spreading good cheer around the building and occasionally wielding hammer and screwdriver, fixing what his sharp eyes have seen needed fixing — and offering specific reminders when necessary.

Also contributing comments during the award presentation were members of the Hamptons American Legion Post #35, Commander Ralph Fatello and Past Commander Joe Kutt, who called Holman "a Legionnaire Extraordinaire" and "a great American, comrade and friend." Holman was acknowledged for doing "so many things for the Legion behind the scenes that most people do not know," and for getting involved in many different projects.

These projects, explained Kutt, "could be school awards, flags and markers for the graves, funeral details, kitchen help, teaching our school children about our flag, collecting the money at the door and, yes, playing the piano" at Post #35's hall, as well as sending out e-mail reminders "about events and things that have to be done."

"When asked, he delivers," added Kutt, who himself was a recipient of the Rotary's award a few years ago.

Additional praise was given by Melissa Bird of Webster at Rye, where Holman frequently plays the piano while leading the residents in sing-a-longs, and takes part other activities during his regular visits.

When it came time to accept his award, Holman approached the podium and pulled what he called a "short speech" out of his pocket. He then proceeded to let a six foot length of paper unroll from his hand, much to the amusement of those in attendance who had greeted him with a standing ovation. He humbly thanked the Rotary Club for honoring him, and accepted a check for $1000, donated in his name to Seacoast Hospice. John and Connie delivered the check to the hospice office later that same day.

There are seven select qualifications which the Rotary Club's "Citizen of the Year" nominee must possess. They must be an adult living or working in the town of Hampton, North Hampton, Hampton Falls or Seabrook, and must not be a member of the Rotary Club. They need to be someone who has contributed to the general benefit of the community as a whole, and one who demonstrates excellence in business, profession and/or avocation.

In addition, the candidate must be active in the community (such a business and/or civic affairs, church, the PTA, etc.), involved in activities that are performed over and above the normal duties of one's paid or salaried position (though activities in the course of one's normal duties are also considered). Their services don't need to be confined to a single year, but should be recent enough to have current significance.

Holman will add his well-deserved Citizen of the Year plaque to another one he won previously, that of NH Municipal Association's 16th Annual Volunteer Award. And, in the words of Bob Casassa, "he is always beaming with excitement and eagerness to share and help. He knows that others depend on him. John Holman is a fine man that the community of Hampton needs in order to thrive."

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