HARWINTON OUTSTANDING CITIZEN
WILLIAM T. BUYS
William Buys, Sr. has been selected as the 2019 recipient of the Harwinton Outstanding Citizen Award, which will be presented for the 45th time at a banquet in his honor on Friday, April 26th at Fairview Farm Golf Course. Mr. Buys was born in Plainville and grew up in Burlington with his parents, three sisters, and one brother. He attended grammar and middle school in Burlington before heading to Canton for high school since Burlington did not have a high school at the time. In 1965, Bill married his wife Barbara and they moved to Harwinton. They have a daughter and a son, Carrie and William, Jr., and four grandchildren.
In 1963, Bill began working at O & G Industries, where he drove a low-bed trailer. He retired in 2003 after 40 years with the company. Bill has said that volunteering is in his blood, and that certainly seems very accurate. One of his grandfathers represented Harwinton in Hartford as a State Representative and the other grandfather was a Charter Member of the Plainville Fire Department. Bill is the kind of man who friends say is a sincerely nice guy and is truly salt of the earth, quietly and tirelessly giving his time and attention in town whenever and wherever needed. In 1971, Bill joined the Harwinton Volunteer Fire Department, where he worked his way up through the ranks to become Deputy Chief under Fred Gottschall from 1981-1993. Bill is still an active member at the Fire Department, though he no longer goes out on fire calls. His son and two grandsons are also members, proving that volunteering is in their blood also.
In 1973, Bill became a Director and Member simultaneously of the Harwinton Agricultural Society. He was nominated to be a director by Henry Delay, but the committee realized he was not yet a member, so they quickly rectified that. He served as president of the Agricultural Society from 1989-1999 and has recently returned as a director today, helping with the care and upkeep of the Harwinton Fairgrounds and buildings, while continuously looking for ways to improve it.
Bill was instrumental in starting the very first “Dust Off” Draft Horse Show and tractor pull in conjunction with Harwinton’s Bronc Callanan Community Fund which raised money to help town residents in need in memory of Leroy “Bronc” Callahan.
In 1990, Bill became a Charter Member of the Northwest Connecticut Draft Horse Association when it was incorporated. Additionally, he served as vice president of the association for several years. The mission of the NWCDHA is mostly educational: to inform and educate the general public about the history and use of the draft horse. Bill and Barbara, along with Harriet Ellis, are present each year in the draft horse barn at the Harwinton Fair with a wonderful historical display of draft horses. NWCDHA awards a yearly scholarship to a student who is going into equine science, agriculture, or a related field.
While not a veteran himself, Bill holds a very warm spot in his heart for our nation’s veterans. He is a member of the Harwinton Veteran’s Memorial Committee, which is tasked with building new memorials to include all wars on the Town Green. For the past 9 years, he also raises and lowers the American flags at the Volunteer Firehouse, Ambulance, Town Green, Post Office, and Fairgrounds. In conjunction with the Volunteer Fire Department and Fire Police, Bill also volunteers to put up and take down 24 flags along route 4, which fly proudly from May 1st until the Sunday after Veteran’s Day, weather permitting. He meticulously handles the care, upkeep, and replacement of the 24 flags.
When asked about being chosen as this year’s honoree, Mr. Buys commented, “I’m overwhelmed and honored!”.
For pictures taken at the awards banquet when available