Ten Seniors Inducted into Hackettstown Area Hall Of Fame  

By Cheryl Conway

Through their involvements, volunteering and initiatives, ten local individuals have been lauded for their outstanding achievements.  

The 24th Hackettstown Area Senior Hall of Fame was held Wednesday, May 10, at David’s Country Inn in Hackettstown. The honorees and their guests were invited to a catered lunch and recognized for their outstanding accomplishments.

The ten honorees have been inducted into the Hackettstown Area Senior Hall of Fame and join 260 individuals honored since the initiative began in 1997. Multiple names were submitted, and a nomination committee voted on the top ten.  

The Hackettstown-Area Senior Hall of Fame was originally established as part of a community outreach initiative sponsored by Hackettstown Hospital. The House of Good Shepherd and WRNJ Radio have been the sponsors in the more recent years with the same mission: To recognize honorees and impact that they have done to help others. All of the honorees either live in the Hackettstown area or have been associated with organizations nearby.

This year’s honorees include: John LaPadula, Allamuchy Twp.; Charlie Uhrmann formerly of Mt. Olive Twp.; Lewis Donaldson, Mansfield Twp.; Joan Watters, Mansfield Twp.; Beverly “Joan” Crouse, Hackettstown; John Maxman, Columbia; Kathy Halpin, Washington; Sarah Brelvi, Allamuchy Twp.; Despina “Daisy” Paghidas, Hackettstown; Mary Litwhiler, Hackettstown.  

LaPadula is the glue that helps keep the town together. He is the director of the Friends of Rutherfurd Hall, president of the Allamuchy OWLS (Older, Wiser, Livelier Seniors), member of the Aging Services Advisory Council of the Warren County Division of Aging and Disability Services, and member of the Panther Valley Communications Committee.

To keep seniors informed, he arranges meetings and guest speakers, coordinates trips and a monthly newsletter.

“It’s a true honor to be associated with these people,” says LaPadula, while accepting his award. “The seniors today need more programs. They want to live life themselves. They want to be independent.”   

Uhrmann was commended for her dedication to veterans. She has been involved in the Morris County Cares/Operation Outreach, One Soldier and founder of All Veterans Alliance and All Veterans Memorial in Budd Lake. She also founded Health Plus, now a Rotary program. Uhrmann has been instrumental in the design and fundraising for the AVM and remains involved with the coordination of the annual Memorial Day Remembrance Day and POW MIA 24-hour vigil. Uhrmann is also active in Helping Homeless Heroes/Helping Homeless Hounds Backpacks.

“We were told it is one of the most meaning memorials in the United States,” says Uhrmann about the non-profit AVM when accepting her award. “It was built because God built it. I was certainly just one who followed his instructions. It is about community.  We did this for those who served, for the moms and dads who had to bury their children, sacrifice of our soldiers and their families is huge, imagine losing a child and not seeing that our country is grateful. It’s 100% about them, and it’s about our country, we live in the greatest freest country in the world. It was paid by the blood of our men and women and by the spirit of America. The All-Veterans Memorial is built by God and valiant volunteers. My volunteers come every year. They come and they donate.” 

Donaldson was recognized for his long career in farming and passing the stewardship to his sons to provide fresh produce and flowers to the community. He was chair of the Warren County Soil Conservation District for 32 years; was on the Farm Home Administration for six years; and the Board of Directors of the NJ Farm Credit. He also served on the Mansfield Twp. Board of Adjustment for 30 years and the Agway Petroleum Co-Op Board for 10 years.  

Watters was applauded for her volunteer efforts in the community. As a member of the Rockport Presbyterian Church for 65 years, she has been a Music Ministry volunteer playing organ, directing both adult and children’s choirs, directing the bell choir, and president of the Ladies Auxiliary for 20 years. She has also been involved with the church’s food pantry, was president of the Mansfield Elementary School PTA, was an administrative secretary at Centenary University while raising her five children and helped work the family farm.

Crouse was also recognized for her volunteer work. She is a founding member and past president of the Hackettstown Soroptimist, from 47 years ago and is still active with the organization which improves the lives of women and girls. She is also involved with the Trinity Thrift Shop on Main Street in Hackettstown, is a member of the HMC Auxiliary and serves on the Tricky Tray Sub-Committee. She is a dedicated hard worker with a big heart who has made a significant impact in her community.

Kraus says she moved to Hackettstown in 1977, “40 something years ago; I didn’t know nothing about anybody,” so she joined Trinity Church. She has worked 20 years at the Thrift Shop and drove a truck to deliver and pick up items. 

“When you love something, it’s not a labor,” says Crouse. “It’s a labor of love. I love Hackettstown. I love Warren County. This is my home. I will continue to do what I can, when I can.”    

As a Warren County resident for 60 years, Maxman has been quite involved. He is a 40-year member of the Blairstown Rotary Club, serving two terms as president and years on its executive board. He was a driving force behind the annual Fourth of July Fireworks Program and has been actively involved in the Rotary’s International Eye Glass, Hearing Aide and Foreign Exchange programs, constructed the Sycamore Park concession stand, co-founded the Blairstown Duck Race fundraiser, serves on the Blairstown Beautification Committee and helps with the VFW Memorial Day parade.

Halpin has served in several volunteer capacities over the years and is best known as the long serving chair of Washington Celebrates America, the area’s premier July 4th celebration. She is also a member of the Warren Hills Board of Education, the Washington Business Improvement District, the Washington Borough Shade Tree Commission, Warren Habitat for Humanity and Hope in the Hills for more than 10 years.

Brelvi was recognized for her 34-year involvement in numerous non-profits including United Way, Warren County Domestic Abuse and Sexual Assault Crisis Center, Rutherfurd Hall Foundation, the Joan Knechel Walk for Hackettstown Regional Medical Center, the Warren County Community College Foundation and initiating the United Way of Warren County Women’s Leadership Council Scholarship Fund.

Paghidas is known as Daisy at the House of the Good Shepherd and has been actively involved as a volunteer. She was a member of the Board of Trustees, secretary of the Independent Living Resident Counsel, led the Employee Appreciation Committee, volunteered at community yard sales, organized countless chapel service binders, was an integral member of the Chime Choir, and helped decorate the Country Store on campus.

“When you are part of a community you give with your heart,” says Paghidas. “I’m so proud to call Hackettstown the House a home.” 

Litwhiler is lauded for her involvement with the Hackettstown St. Patrick’s Day Parade. As a volunteer with the Hackettstown Business Improvement District, Litwhiler has worked tirelessly with the annual parade by putting it on the map and turning it into a premier event attracting 1,000’s of people. She was involved in getting plans and lights installed downtown, started the Deck the House Contest and the historic house tour, is involved in other HBID events, served on the town’s Recreation Commission and on the Board of Education and is also a 30-year educator in grades K-5. 

“I’m very honored to be part of these people,” says Litwhiler. “You have a vision that you work for. Your vision that you have….keep plugging.”  


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