On April 4, 2018 the New Rochelle Chamber of Commerce had a "starry, starry night" at its Annual Dinner Dance where three hometown heroes were honored at the beautifully renovated VIP Country Club and where one of the honorees will be awarded as a later date. County Executive, George Latimer, State Assemblyman, Steve Otis, City Councilman, Ivar Hyden, City Manager, Chuck Strome and New Rochelle Chamber of Commerce President, Rob Hayes, all attended to show their support of the honorees.
At this “American Pie” themed event, Mr. Cooper Colwell received the Distinguished Community Service Award for his longtime commitment to the New Rochelle community. Jennifer Lanser, Executive Director said, “Cooper has been serving on the New Rochelle Board of Directors for more than 25 years giving his undying support to us and to various other organizations throughout New Rochelle during his lengthy career and it was time he was recognized for his service.” Cooper Colwell is currently the President of H.E. Colwell and Sons, which is one of New Rochelle's original businesses and was founded by Mr. Colwell’s great-grandfather in the late 1800’s. Upon accepting his award, Cooper said, “If my involvement over the years has resulted in a benefit to others, no matter how small, it has been worth the investment of time and, for that, I am truly the lucky one.” Cooper also reminisced about New Rochelle’s rich past and painted a vivid picture of the Queen City from years ago. He also recognized the date of the 50th anniversary of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s passing. Later that evening, he attributed his success to his lovely wife of 40 years, Nancy Colwell.
Also honored this year was Daniel Bonnet of The Center for College & Careers at The Guidance Center of Westchester. This Center headed by Daniel Bonnet has a satellite office at New Rochelle High School and helps hundreds of local high school aged children in Westchester get on the right path with their careers, many of them being employed right here in New Rochelle. During his acceptance speech he encouraged the attendees to make a difference in the life of our youth. Amy Gelles, Executive Director of The Guidance Center of Westchester said, “we are so happy to have Daniel as part of our organization.”
The third honoree of the night was Frank Bombace of New Rochelle Auto / Body, celebrating their 36th year in business on 43 Potter Ave in New Rochelle. A local businessman, Mr. Bombace, has most recently made his mark by assisting with the past few Thanksgiving Parades in New Rochelle by donating supplies, resources, staff and acting as an ambassador to local businesses to assist in sponsoring the parade and its recent addition of balloons. He said, “being involved in the community is very rewarding and I’m glad that I’m a part of the Chamber of Commerce.”
One of the originally expected honorees, the famous Don McLean, singer/ songwriter of the top hit songs “American Pie” and “Vincent” was unable to attend the rescheduled event due to a launch of his new album “Botanical Gardens” and his concert tour. He did issue a statement that concluded with, “The friends I had in New Rochelle, I still have today. The world I grew up in I only have in my memories, but they remain vivid, and as an older man, I now realize just how lucky I was to have grown up there with so much close at hand. To [New Rochelle]; I think of you quite often!” Mr. McLean is expected to return to New Rochelle in the summer to rededicate his structure at the Walk of Fame in Ruby Dee Park.
Event sponsors included Eifert, French & Ketchum, Riverside Memorial Chapel, the Beechmont Tavern, The New Rochelle Auto / Body and The Guidance Center of Westchester. To find out about the rededication at Ruby Dee Park and all the upcoming events of the New Rochelle Chamber of Commerce follow them at @newrochamber on social media or call (914) 632-5700.
*photo credit - Susan Nagib