There is a new Woman of the Year.
At the Marvin House in Jamestown Monday night, the Jamestown Interclub Council named Lucille Miller as the 2013 Woman of the Year at its 58th annual Woman of the Year Banquet. This year, the banquet was hosted by the YWCA of Jamestown.
After being announced as the recipient for the Woman of the Year award, Miller was surprised.
Pictured are Lucille Miller and Russell E. Diethrick Jr. Miller was presented the award for Woman of the Year during the Jamestown Interclub Council’s annual banquet on Monday.
P-J photos by Daniel Swanson
"I'm kind of overwhelmed," Miller said. "I almost didn't come tonight because I wasn't feeling well. Thank you all so much. It's an honor to be a part of this community in Jamestown."
Miller is known throughout the community for her musical ability, playing for Little Theater productions, Junior Guilders, Children Sing, Jamestown High School Musicals and the Rotary Club of Jamestown. She also entertains with music at nursing homes including Lutheran, Tanglewood Manor and the Frewsburg Rest Home and occasionally plays at local church services.
Miller also volunteers at the Audubon Center & Sanctuary, St. Susan's Center and the Chautauqua County Humane Society. She was previously employed at The Post-Journal.
"What makes it so special is all of the wonderful people who came tonight," Miller said, noting that she appreciated that her children and friends who were there to congratulate her.
"This is the old Woman of the Year award," she joked as the crowd laughed with her.
The event began as Jane Winter, president of the council and 2011 Woman of the Year, explained that the Woman of the Year is always named in March, as it is National Women's History Month, which highlights the contributions of women in history and contemporary society.
She explained that the Interclub Council is a women's organization that supports local women in their endeavors to advance community interests.
"Women supporting women - it can't get any better than that," Winter said. "This banquet is to honor local women with exemplary volunteer service, who contribute to the community."
Beth Oakes, executive director of the YWCA of Jamestown and 2010 Woman of the Year, said that the banquet is an enjoyable night out to have fun with friends.
Marcia Bliss, 2012 Woman of the Year, said that she was completely surprised by the award last year.
Bliss is a board member of The Resource Center, the Chautauqua County Child Advocacy Program, the Zonta club and the Marvin House.
"I am honored to be a small part of everything," she said.
The invocation was given by Rev. Natalie Hanson, of Christ First United Methodist Church, before dinner was served.
After dinner, Michele Constantino, executive director of the Drama Enrichment Program, accompanied on the piano by Cindy Hanson, performed three songs, including "Wind Beneath My Wings" and "That's What Friends Are For."
June Diethrick, vice president of the council and 2005 woman of the Year, introduced her husband, Russell E. Diethrick Jr., to present the 2013 Woman of the Year award to Miller.
"What better person to introduce the Woman of the Year," she said of her husband. "This is the kindest, sweetest person who has many of the qualities we are looking for in the Woman of the Year - leadership, community service and compassion."
Mr. Diethrick was involved with bringing the Babe Ruth World Series, Meals on Wheels and World Series of Cars to Jamestown, according to his wife. He also spends much of his time caring for homeless animals in the area.
Before he spoke, Mr. Diethrick asked an unsuspecting Miller to play him a favorite tune on the piano.
"The recipients of the Woman of the Year award always give credit to everybody else - they always thank other women," Mr. Diethrick said. "This year's Woman of the Year recipient is guilty of making life better and more enjoyable for those around her."
After Miller was named Woman of the Year, Lori Cornell, liaison for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, congratulated Miller on behalf of the governor.
"It's an honor to be here and congratulate you," she said.
Lisa Goodell, executive director of the Chautauqua Blind Association, spoke on behalf of her husband, Assemblyman Andy Goodell, who was in Albany at the time of the event.
"We're truly blessed at the Rotary Club of Jamestown to have Lucille be a part of our club," she said, noting that Miller often accompanies the club on the piano while they sing.
"You were selected by colleagues, friends and peers, who themselves are accomplished," Mrs. Goodell said of the honor of Woman of the Year. "You are a great example of how one woman can make such a difference."
Mrs. Diethrick also presented letters from state Sen. Catharine Young, R-Olean, County Executive Vince Horrigan, R-Bemus Point, and Jamestown Mayor Sam Teresi, each congratulating Miller on the award and thanking her for her community service.
Notably, Horrigan declared March 24 as "Lucille Miller Day" in the county.
This year's judges included Ruth Lundin, president of the Jamestown Audubon Society, Andrea Magnuson, associate director at The Gebbie Foundation and Constantino.
According to Mrs. Diethrick, the criteria for being a Woman of the Year judge includes understanding the value of service and volunteerism, showing leadership and being intuitive.
The Jamestown Interclub Council is comprised of 15 women's organizations that represent over 1,000 women in the community.