Smirle picks up Community Builder Award

The 2017 Community Builder Award recipient, Bill Smirle, poses with North Dundas Council. From left: Mayor Eric Duncan, Deputy Mayor Gerry Boyce, Smirle, councillors Tony Fraser, Al Armstrong and John Thompson. Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News

MOREWOOD — Inside a jam-packed Morewood Fire Hall, Bill Smirle was honoured with North Dundas Township’s Community Builder Award last night.

The venue was appropriate as Smirle — among many other accomplishments chronicled that evening — has been associated with the station for the last 60 years, many of them as a volunteer firefighter.

Announced as the impending recipient last summer, Smirle was initially set to be awarded in November, but personal circumstances compelled a last-minute rescheduling of the event.

Among other activities in the community, the recipient was lauded for his work as former deputy mayor of the township, a prime mover behind Winchester District Memorial Hospital’s Renewing the Vision Campaign, spearhead behind the project that renovated Winchester’s Old Town Hall, the township’s current long-time representative on South Nation Conservation and current chair of the Dundas Manor board. He was also acknowledged for being supremely briefed and well-read on whatever issue he happens to tackle.

“His peers, everywhere he goes, acknowledge [his] leadership skills,” said Mayor Eric Duncan.

“I think I talk fast, until Bill knows he has an hour with me,” quipped the mayor, recounting their regular breakfast meetings. “I appreciate his advice. It is sound advice, it is good advice, it’s something I greatly appreciate. He’s been a good friend and a great leader, and frankly a real mentor in terms of his style and his abilities to get things done,” he said

A retired teacher and farmer, an appreciative Smirle recounted advice he never forgot as he was starting his career as an educator in 1960. “I was this little country boy in a big classroom in Ottawa with 43 Grade 4 kids, and the teacher next to me was in her last year of teaching,” he recalled, noting she regularly visited his classroom to offer suggestions on how to improve. After her retirement, “I said to her, ‘How can I ever repay you?’

“And she said, ‘You don’t ever want to repay me, but how you can repay me is, in the future, you work with others, and you give advice and support to them, and that will be my reward…. I think that is something we should all remember as we’re moving along and moving forward.”

Smirle also thanked his wife, Nancy, and other family members for their support.

Bill Smirle addresses the audience in Morewood, on the occasion of being recognized with North Dundas Township’s Community Builder Award.


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