Posts Tagged ‘New Jersey Hall of Fame’

A Grandson’s Memory

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Sam Reckford, Millicent Fenwick’s grandson, accepts her induction into the New Jersey Hall of Fame from former NJ Gov. Christine Todd Whitman and CNN anchor Susan Hendricks. 

Sam Reckford, Millicent Fenwick’s grandson, recently accepted her induction into the New Jersey Hall of Fame on May 6, 2018. Yesterday his affectionate memories of his grandmother were published on north jersey.com. His article appears below.

Remembering my grandmother, Rep. Millicent Fenwick

Last week I accepted, on behalf of my grandmother, Millicent Fenwick, her induction into the New Jersey Hall of Fame.

Grandma was a character. One might say that you couldn’t have made her up, but Garry Trudeau came remarkably close in his creation of Lacey Davenport.

Her style and personality were forged from an odd set of circumstances that would be impossible to replicate. She was born into great privilege, but had her mother ripped away from her when she was just four years old, with the sinking of the Lusitania.

She debuted before the King of Spain, but loathed society events.

She disobeyed her parents’ wishes by marrying a dashing aviator, but was soon abandoned by him, and left with two small children and few resources.

She struggled to get a job because she never finished high school, and was even turned away from selling stockings at Bonwit Teller. Of course, what the hiring officer at Bonwit’s didn’t appreciate was that Grandma was the living embodiment of the old maxim, “Don’t let school get in the way of your education.”

When she was withdrawn from boarding school at 16 to live in Madrid – where her father was posted as U.S. ambassador – she gained the opportunity to travel throughout Europe and North Africa, read extensively and learn many languages.

Then fate – made possible by her social position – placed her at a dinner party next to Condé Nast at a time when he needed a junior editor at Vogue.

As a child, I largely knew my grandmother as the author of Vogue’s Book of Etiquette. She knew exactly how people ought to behave in all circumstances, and she dutifully recorded it, but made it plain that etiquette was principally about making people feel comfortable, not Victorian stuffiness.

The most immutable rule of all was how to treat people that are in a subservient position; it is far more important to treat them with respect than it is to act in a certain way in front of one’s peers and social superiors. That is how Grandma came to be loved by her staff and the shopkeepers in Bernardsville, yet not so much by the chairmen of powerful House committees and Cabinet secretaries, not to mention autocrats around the world.

Despite her aristocratic bearing, Grandma had a rapport with working people and those that society had neglected because she truly cared about them and their problems, and they recognized it.

In my office, I have a tapestry embroidered by six Ukrainian women jailed in a gulag in Moldavia, given to her in appreciation of her defense of human rights in the USSR. I don’t know how these unfortunate women found out about her struggle for what would become the Helsinki Accords in that pre-Internet age, but it is an inspiration to me every day to see this testament to what one caring and determined person can accomplish.

It was an honor to stand in for her and thank the people of New Jersey for this official recognition of her life of public service.

We can all aspire to follow her good example.

Sam Reckford is a resident of Millburn.

 

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New Jersey Hall of Fame

njhof-logoWhile I am remembering Millicent Fenwick today, February 25, her birthday, I wanted to share news announced last month; she will be inducted into New Jersey’s Hall of Fame on May 6, 2018.

“Induction into the New Jersey Hall of Fame is the highest civilian honor that our state can bestow on someone,” said Gov. Murphy in a statement. “It’s a celebration of New Jersey that inspires the next generation of New Jersey leaders. Our inductees remind us how so many of our citizens have transformed the world, and how proud we should be of that fact as New Jerseyan.”

Fenwick will be in good company. Other inductees this year include Meryl Streep, The Four Seasons, Gloria Gaynor, Debbie Harry, Stevie Van Zandt, Astronauts Mark and Scott Kelly, Cake Boss Buddy Valastro, Writer Anna Quindlen, and former pitcher Al Leiter. Congrats to all the inductees, a complete list is below:

Arts and letters

Author Harlan Coben (Ridgewood)
Author and journalist Anna Quindlen (South Brunswick)

Enterprise

Real estate developer Jon F. Hanson (Far Hills)
Publisher Steve Forbes (Morristown)
Businessman Joe Buckelew (Manasquan)

Performing arts

Actress Meryl Streep (Summit)
Musician Stevie Van Zandt  (Middletown)
Musician Gloria Gaynor (Newark)
Musicians The Four Seasons, Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito, Nick Massi and Joe Long (Newark)
Reality TV star Buddy Valastro (Hoboken)
Musician Debbie Harry (Hawthorne)

Public service

Astronauts Mark and Scott Kelly (West Orange)
Medicine  Clara Maass (East Orange)
Politician Millicent Fenwick (Bernardsville)

Sports

Baseball Al Leiter (Berkeley Township).
Track and field Mary Decker (Bunnvale)

There will also be an “unsung hero” inductee announced in April.