PHILLIPS — The Phillips Public Library threw a surprise party for Winona Davenport recently. The Tribute to Winona Day was held to recognize her many years of volunteer work in Phillips – and most especially for the $68,969 she has raised for the library since 1998.

“And that doesn’t include her time, energy and dedication,” said librarian Hedy Langdon. “If you add the time she’s devoted to the library, it would amount to three times as much.”

Calling her the “Queen of Volunteer,” the library’s board provided her with a makeshift “throne,” a cardboard “crown,” words of appreciation and a table of food, cakes, pastries, cookies and other treats contributed by friends.

Davenport received tributes for other fundraising activities as well, including from the Conservation Commission and the Philips Area Community Center, both of which have benefited from her volunteer efforts. In addition, Sen. Tom Saviello and Rep. Russell Black presented her with a certificate of appreciation from the Maine Legislature.

Born in Phillips almost 78 years ago, she and her husband Gordon moved to Portland for a time, where they raised two children. But later, after coming back to Phillips for a vacation, Davenport said she realized how much she loved the town, the country and the woods.

She convinced her husband to stay, and eventually they bought the hardware store and a house on the river, where they settled back in to small town life. And while she no longer owns the hardware store, she remains committed to the community.

From the start, Davenport wanted to give back to the town. She groomed her yard above the Sandy River, put out picnic tables and made it into a nature park where residents could relax and swim.

In 1990, she and five members of the Phillips Conservation Commission, Robin Caruso, Bob Beal, Patty Knapp, Bob Miller and Laura Toothaker, raised $20,000 to pay for a clock for the Congregational Church tower. The church, built in the 1800s, had space for a clock in its tower but had never been able to raise the money to pay for it.

Many of her activities have centered around golf. Not only did she build Justafield, her own scaled-down golf course, a teaching center complete with three “greens” (each with three flags), 18 T-boxes, hazards and drives ranging from 78 to 178 yards, Davenport has become a golf instructor, teaching anyone who’s interested, from seniors to children.

She created a Monday night men’s league, a Tuesday night women’s league and a children’s league on Thursday. She also uses her interest in golf as a fundraising platform, over the years creating a golf ball drop and a fundraising event she calls “Memorial Extreme Golf Challenge, Big Break Style, in Memory of (her husband) Gordon Davenport Sr.”

Other events include the annual Library Penny Auction, the annual Golf Scramble and the 21-year-old Scarecrow Reunion. She’s also written a book, “Phillips Through My Eyes,” about growing up in the town.

And while she’s begun to pull back a little, for instance, surrendering the Penny Auction and the Scarecrow Reunion to the next generation,  her many friends noted, it would take hours to enumerate all her contributions to the town.


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