Enid Lipeles, chairwoman of the Monroe Town Council since 2001 and an award-winning chemistry teacher at Masuk High School for 42 years before her retirement in 2007, has been named Monroe’s Outstanding Citizen 2013.
A 10-member panel representing a cross section of community life in Monroe selected Lipeles in a closed ballot from a list of 14 candidates nominated by the community-at-large for elevating the quality of life in Monroe over the years.
The award is to be presented at the April 8 meeting of the Town Council where Lipeles is to receive a one-of-a-kind image created by Doug Fedorko’s word-working class at the high school and a video profile of Lipeles is to be premiered, the work of the video students of Jonelle Pappas at the high school. A 7 p.m. reception at the Town Hall, with light refreshments provided through private contributions, precedes the presentation.
To contribute, contact Marven Moss, member-at-large of the selection committee, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 203.268.2961.
The award is administered through the office of First Selectman Steve Vavrek who says: "So many people contribute selflessly and meaningfully to the community fabric of Monroe it’s extremely challenging to single out one noteworthy individual every year. The candidates all represent the essence of altruism and the spirit of humanity. Eventually we hope to recognize all of those who inspire us."
The Lipeles commitment to civic service in Monroe extends outside the Town Council to the chairwomanship of the Zoning Board of Appeals from 1992 to 2001 and the vice-chairwomanship of the Parks and Recreation Commission between 1983 and 1988.
She was also president of the Monroe League of Women Voters from 1994 to 1998, president of Monroe Jewish Women’s Club from 1973 to 1978 and president of the Monroe chapter of the American Field Service from 1970 to 1980.
"No one runs a tighter meeting than Enid — or has a more intuitive sense of the undercurrents in a committee room," says one observer of Monroe's affairs, looking apolitically at Lipeles with the gavel in her hand.
Her four decades-plus at Masuk H.S. were capped by eight years as head of the science department while still teaching chemistry and recognition as Monroe Teacher of the Year in 1990 and as a finalist for Connecticut Teacher of the Year in 1991.
She was also Advisor of the Year for the Connecticut Association of Student Councils in 1991-92 and Outstanding Connecticut High School Science Teacher for 1995-96. Her work in academia also covers publication of more than 12 scientific papers and led to numerous grants to advance educational opportunities for students in Monroe.
In a typical accolade, a student leaving Masuk H.S. for college once wrote Lipeles, "I learned so much and had fun doing it. Thanks ... for your support and encouragement along the way. You are one of those teachers I will never forget."
For the last 12 years Lipeles has remained active as a student teacher supervisor at Sacred Heart University and the University of Bridgeport. She also volunteers at High Horizons Magnet School in Bridgeport, working with Grade 8 science students and reading to kindergarten tots.
Ralph Lipeles, her husband of 50 years, is a retired mechanical engineer. They have lived in Monroe for 47 years and are parents of three and grandparents of seven. Their sense of adventure has taken them sightseeing to 25 countries from Argentina to Tanzania over the years, the itineraries conscientiously assembled so Enid is typically back in town for the twice-a-month Monday night town council meetings.
Tennis is also one of Enid’s passions. Wobbly knees have bounced her from the singles court. But she still plays doubles indoors and out year-around, known to opponents for her doggedness, ball placement and a reliable left-handed slice.
"Monroe is a wonderful place to live for all ages," Lipeles says, "and I will always try to make it better."
Karen Burnaska's selection as Monroe's Outstanding Citizen in 2012 and Bernie Sippin's in 2011 revived a tradition that was an annual convention between 1983 and 1998. Among the criteria the selectors apply:
- Outstanding achievement
- Exceptional volunteerism
- Humanitarian service
- Lifetime distinction
- Act(s) of courage
- Philanthropic activism
- Raising the profile/image of Monroe
The organizations represented on the selection panel and their representatives:
Monroe Historical Society, Karen Cardi, president
Monroe Senior Ckitizens Center, Cathy Belanger
Edith Wheeler Memorial Library, Lorna Rhyins, adult services librarian
Monroe Arts Council, Barbara Haeger, president
Monroe Clergy Association, Rev. Jennifer Gingras, senior pastor, Monroe Congregational Church
Radio Station WMNR, Fred Velardi, broadcaster and commissioner
Monroe Police Department, Chief John Salvatore
Masuk H.S. Student Council, Aviva Doery, senior class president
Monroe Chamber of Commerce, Ray Giovanni, president
Members-at-large Steve Schapiro and Marven Moss.