Wilton Republicans honor Gould and Hetherington

It can’t be possible to sufficiently thank two legends of public service, but the Wilton Republican Town Committee tried on Friday night, March 15. 

The GOP honored former state Rep. John Hetherington and former Wilton Second Selectman Marilyn Gould at the annual Lincoln-Reagan Dinner at Cobbs Mill Inn in Weston.

Former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu was the guest speaker.

The Yale-educated Mr. Hetherington, who represented the 125th District, which includes New Canaan and part of Wilton, won the respect of both sides of the aisle in Hartford. In the current political climate, that is not an easy trick. He loved being in politics and considered it a privilege.

“It’s been my honor to serve the people of Wilton and New Canaan,” he said. “I’m a little humbled by the event and the honor. It was a grand affair.”

Before serving as a state representative, Mr. Hetherington was on the Advisory Committee on Shareholder Communications, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and served his hometown of New Canaan on multiple boards, including the Town Council, Planning and Zoning, and the Zoning Board of Appeals.

He was also the chair of the Board of Assessment Appeals.

Regarding Mr. Sununu, who also served as the White House chief of staff for President George H.W. Bush, Mr. Hetherington made a surprising discovery.

“Remarkably, I grew up in Forest Hills, Queens, and Gov. Sununu grew up about three blocks away. I didn’t know that, and we were there right around the same time.”

Mr. Sununu’s speech focused on the future of the Republican Party. Coming off a second presidential loss to President Obama, the GOP, according to the governor, needs to refocus its message. That message needs to be clear and consistent, and he encouraged his fellow party members to remain involved and become even more active.

Marilyn Gould has also had a long and varied career in public life. She was the second selectman in Wilton from 1989 to 2007, and was the director of the Wilton Historical Society for 28 years.

Ms. Gould also served for many years on the Planning and Zoning Commission, including several years as the chairman. She is also on the Charter Commission.

Feisty and opinionated, Ms. Gould was always interested in the greater good, while occasionally upsetting a few people along the way.

She was noted for trying to keep the “big box” retailers from coming to town, including being staunchly opposed to the Stop & Shop that eventually opened in Wilton Center.

“Marilyn never relented on her principles,” said Al Alper, chairman of the Wilton Republican Town Committee. “She, along with John, were self-deprecating. The party needs to find more people like them. They were definitely role models.”

“We are all worse off for their leaving public service,” he added.

Mr. Alper also had strong praise for Mr. Sununu, whom he called “wildly successful” in his career.

But the stars of the night were Ms. Gould and Mr. Hetherington.

Ms. Gould, who has lived in Connecticut for 37 years, is moving to Florida, while Mr. Hetherington has scaled back to working part-time after stepping away from representing the 125th District.

“John and Marilyn, for the same reason, were honored,” Mr. Alper said. “They have both been tireless volunteers. Selfless volunteers. They have given their time, their talent, their intellect. There is not a shred of limelight to be gained. To dedicate more than a half-century is remarkable. They’ve set a very high bar.”