'Distinguished citizens' are named

The Riverbrook Regional YMCA has announced that Carol and George Bauer and the late Albert G. Nickel will be the recipients of this year’s Distinguished Citizen Awards.  These awards are presented annually at the YMCA Community Celebration, being held this year at Millstone Farm. Sponsored by Fairfield County Bank, this year’s celebration is a farm-to-table event on Sunday, June 4.

The Distinguished Citizen Award has been made to more than 81 individuals, businesses and organizations since the celebration began in 1986. It honors outstanding volunteers who have served the town on a long-term basis and made a positive difference that benefits Wilton and its residents.

Through the years, Wilton residents Carol and George Bauer have generously offered their time and talents to serve others in Norwalk. They have spent most of their lives giving back — a trait that began in their youth. Both were raised in families that did not have much but always believed in giving to others.

Carol started volunteering at Norwalk Hospital in 1978 in the emergency room and pre-natal unit. From that early start, she became the chair of the Norwalk Hospital board of trustees, where she and George helped raise more than $50 million for the hospital. Their gifts helped build the Bauer Center for Emergency Care, the Jeffrey Peter Bauer Newborn Intensive Unit (named after their first child) and the Carol Bauer Nursing Scholarship Fund. After stepping down as chairperson in 2002, Carol became and still is a hospital chaplain.

George has held the position of treasurer of the board of trustees of Norwalk Hospital after retiring from his 31-year career at IBM and second career as an investment banker. Along with their commitment to Norwalk Hospital, the Bauers have generously given to the Olin Business School at Washington University, as well as building the New Life Center in Bangkok, a halfway house for young women that provides safety and education. Closer to home, they have sponsored 43 children from a South Norwalk housing project through the I Have a Dream program, making them an offer of post-high school training if they stayed in school. Twenty-five of those children stayed on with the program, with four currently in college. Their gifts helped give these children the same experiences that many surrounding towns offer with after-school programs, theater performances, swimming lessons, and support for post-high school training or college.  

The Bauers have supported Americares as well as Habitat for Humanity, Visiting Nurse & Hospice of Fairfield County, Stepping Stones Museum for Children, the Maritime Center, and Stay at Home in Wilton, plus Waveny Care Center with financial support as well as their time — and always with a smile.

Al Nickel

Al Nickel was a longtime Wilton resident of more than 40 years who lived his life by the wisdom that “to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.” His extensive volunteer and philanthropic involvement in the community impacted many lives. He served as a trustee of the Wilton Family YMCA, YMCA of the USA, CancerCare, and Washington & Jefferson College, and was on the board of directors of Visiting Nurse & Hospice of Fairfield County.

He showed support for various projects and events around Wilton, from attending school meetings and meetings on the lighting at Middlebrook School to assisting the Wilton Library and Trackside Teen Center. He also treasured his involvement with the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp and the Orthopedic Foundation. In 2002, he was awarded the prestigious Ellis Island Medal of Honor, presented annually to citizens who exemplify the values of the American Dream.

“Al serves as an example of a life well-lived, with countless good friends and a loving family that enabled him to contribute so significantly in brightening the lives of all those around him,” a press release said. “He did not live his life by the glass not even ‘half-full, half-empty’ principle. He looked at his life as a glass full, all the way full. There are so many good people to embrace and remember, and Al is one of them.”

The Riverbrook Regional YMCA and Fairfield County Bank will present the Distinguished Citizen Awards at the annual YMCA Community Celebration on Sunday, June 4, at Millstone Farm. For ticket information, call the development office at 203-762-8384, ext. 273.