Longtime Wilton residents Carol and Bob Russell have been named honorary chairs for Wilton Library’s Spring Benefit on Saturday, March 17, at the Silver Spring Country Club in Ridgefield.
The Russells said they are “very thrilled” to be honored for their longtime support of the library, their years of service in the town of Wilton and their work to preserve the town’s history. Their involvement in the Wilton community began shortly after they moved from the North Hills suburbs of Pittsburgh to Hemmelskamp Road in Wilton in 1969.
Carol has supervised Wilton Library’s history room for more than 30 years. When the Wilton Historical Society decided to renovate in 1980, the library offered to house the society’s archival collection. This was a good move, Carol said, because it provided the public with better access.
The archives were moved in boxes to “an empty little room” in the library, said Carol, who was recruited to organize the materials for a small sum on a part-time basis for six months.
“I came two days a week and started through the boxes,” she said. After she finished organizing them, Carol offered to stay on as a volunteer to “supervise” the archives — a role she still holds to this day in the Wilton Library History Room.
In the fall of 1984, Carol said, she joined the library’s board of trustees and served as membership chair for 11 years.
Before then, she was an active Parent Teacher Association (PTA) volunteer for 15 years, served as president of the Wilton High School Band’s parent organization and began Cider Mill School’s river study program.
Carol served on Wilton’s Panning and Zoning Commission in the 1990s, Conservation Commission for five years and Historic District and Historic Property Commission for 10 years. Some of her years of service on the conservation and historic commissions were as chair.
She also co-authored one of the first drafts of a tree ordinance for Wilton in the 1990s, served as a member of the Wilton Earth Day Committee in 1990, and was named Wilton’s 2016 Tree Warden.
Carol said she was a member of the Wilton Garden Club and is today an “honorary member.”
After retiring from IBM in 1992, Bob served as Wilton’s first selectman from 1993 to 1997 — but his involvement in the Wilton community started at least 20 years before then.
Bob prepared enrollment projections for Wilton’s public schools for about 15 years and served on various town boards and commissions.
He joined the Board of Finance in 1979 and served for eight years, served on the Historic District and Historic Property Commission in the late 1980s and on the Fire Commission for about three years, and chaired Wilton’s Charter Commission.
Bob also co-chaired the Ambler Farm Committee and served on Wilton’s Nursing and Home Care board, now Visiting Nurse & Hospice of Fairfield County.
Bob researched and wrote the first comprehensive history of the town — Wilton, Connecticut: Three Generations of People, Places and Progress. The book was published by the Wilton Historical Society in 2004.
Bob has also been a historian of the Wilton Congregational Church for more than 25 years, leads history tours of Lambert Corner and the town of Wilton, and is a member of the Wilton Land Conservation Trust’s board of trustees.
The Russells are both town historians and emeritus trustees of the Wilton Historical Society, as well as former members of Wilton Library’s board of trustees. They were named honorary trustees of the Wilton Library Association board, according to Wilton Library Marketing Communications Manager Janet Crystal, and also co-chaired the Wilton Bicentennial Celebration Committee in 2002.
Despite moving to the Meadow Ridge retirement community in Redding last July, the Russells still spend most of their time in Wilton — except when they’re in Florida.
“We go to Florida from January to April every year, so we’ve never been to one of the library’s spring benefits,” said Carol.
The Russells, who are in Florida, said they will come back to Wilton for this year’s benefit, before returning south for another week or two.
The Spring Benefit will run from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. Falling on St. Patrick’s Day, this year’s annual fund-raiser will have an Irish theme and feature live and silent auctions, food, and entertainment, including Irish bagpipers.
The dress code is cocktail attire. Tickets are $225 per person.
To purchase tickets, make a donation, become a sponsor, or check out some of the auction items, visit www.wiltonlibrary.org/benefit2018.
For more information about the benefit, contact Wilton Library’s development director, Robin Axness, at [email protected] or 203-762-6323.