Rupert Grover, left, accepts a special recognition award on behalf of his late wife, Suzanne Grover, from Oxford Hills Chamber of Commerce President John Williams at the annual chamber dinner Wednesday evening at the Silver Spur in Mechanic Falls. 

MECHANIC FALLS — The Oxford Hills Chamber of Commerce presented a special recognition award Wednesday evening to the family of Suzanne Grover, who passed away earlier this year.

Speaking at the annual awards banquet at the Silver Spur, Grover’s husband, Rupert, said his wife “knew a lot of the people receiving awards tonight, but that’s not unusual.”

“She was a great networker,” Grover said. “She was always looking for the guy at the top who had the most influence, and she always found people who needed each other and connected them. I didn’t look at her as the ‘Godfather,’ but some people did.”

Grover pointed out that in the early 2000s, after becoming involved with the Oxford County Fair, the late Lars Thermaenius said “every organization needs a spark plug.”

“She was that kind of a woman,” Grover said. “I was married to her for 49 years and seven months, and she was a spark plug. We came to the Oxford Hills in 1983, and the Oxford Hills hasn’t been the same since.”

The new Suzanne Grover Community Service Award was given to Amanda and Aaron Ouellette of Daddy O’s Diner in Oxford, recognizing them for their role in providing free community dinners to people on the fourth Thursday of the month and raising more than $4,000 for the state’s Home Energy Assistance Program.

“We’re truly humbled to even be nominated,” Amanda Ouellette said. “We wouldn’t be here without the community. You’ve been supporting us for years, and it’s a blessing to be up here and to be the first recipient of the Suzanne Grover Community Service Award.”

Kathryn Letourneau, vice president and retail and indirect lending officer for Norway Savings Bank, won the chamber’s Employee of the Year Award.

Letourneau said she was “humbled and extremely grateful” to receive the award, and lauded the “entire senior team at Norway Savings Bank for creating the best banking environment in the world.”

She also thanked her husband and son for “enduring my long hours.”

“I appreciate the support that they give me,” Letourneau said.

Tilton’s Market in Buckfield won the chamber’s Rising Star Award, given to a local business owner of employee who is “up and coming” and “is positively contributing to make the Oxford Hills an exciting and dynamic place to live and work,” according to the chamber.

Chamber Executive Director John Williams said the market has “been growing like crazy in the last year, and (they) are doing a terrific job in the Buckfield area.”

Sandra Fick, a retired schoolteacher who runs Tilton’s Market, said she was honored to “continue the legacy of Gilbert Tilton, who founded the store in 1939.”

She said it’s “more important than ever that we support and celebrate one another.”

“I can’t tell you how much this recognition means to me,” Fick said.

The chamber’s Business of the Year Award went to Flanders Electric in Norway.

Leslie Flanders, the former owner, said that after he sold the business to Keith Poland, “the biggest problem he had was that he was young, and looked even younger.”

“He said that people didn’t believe that he was the owner of the store,” Flanders said. “I decided to nominate him for the Rising Star Award, and he said that’s the best thing that I could have done for him, because now people believe that he’s the owner.”

Poland, after receiving the award, said he was “truly honored” to be recognized, and thanked his wife and children for putting up with the late nights.

He also thanked “the people I work with day in and day out.”

“They’re the ones our reputation is built upon,” Poland said. “I could not ask for a more committed group of individuals.”

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