Photo by Cady Stanton
NEW HARTFORD — Residents held a ceremony Saturday, Nov. 14 to officially dedicate a stone bench in Brodie Park in honor of former first selectman Bruce H. Gresczyk Sr.
Gresczyk, who passed away on May 1, 2019, served as first selectman of New Hartford from 1992 to 1998 and worked as deputy commissioner in the state’s Department of Agriculture from 1999 to 2002 and as commissioner from 2002 to 2005. In 1984, Gresczyk purchased a plot of land in New Hartford and founded Gresczyk Farms on Litchfield Turnpike, known for its produce and garden center.
The bench is located just to the left of the beach at Brodie Park. A group of 20 friends and loved ones attended the ceremony on a chilly Saturday afternoon.
Resident Greg O’Brien led the ceremony, beginning with a rendition of the national anthem before speaking about Gresczyk’s life and dedication to his community.
“Bruce was indeed an amazing guy, and I know without any question we all miss him dearly,” O’Brien said at the ceremony.
First Selectman Dan Jerram spoke at the event about Gresczyk’s relentless contributions to the town and Connecticut as a whole.
“You don’t need me to tell you about his amazing accomplishments with the state, starting as deputy commissioner of agriculture and then as commissioner of agriculture, he developed more and more responsibility because of his acumen,” Jerram said. “Then when he came back home, what he accomplished as a businessman that his sons have now taken over: it’s amazing.”
Gresczyk also served as a valuable mentor to Jerram when he started his political career in the area, according to Jerram.
“Bruce means a lot to all of us, he means a lot to me and helped me get my start the first time around, friendships were made and great advice was given,” Jerram said. “I think that this is a great place to keep his memory alive. He was someone who stood for everything that New Hartford stands for.”
The event concluded with a group rendition of “God Bless America” before Gresczyk’s son, Bruce Gresczyk Jr., shared some remarks about his father with those in attendance.
“I want to thank everyone for coming out and thank everyone for contributing to it. It’s humbling to see all of this support,” Gresczyk Jr. said. “We miss him a lot and this is beyond an appropriate location to honor him.”
Linda Goff, who served as town treasurer while Gresczyk was selectman, spoke to his character and her experience door-knocking with him during campaigns. Goff led the fundraising effort for the bench through private donations collected by the Republican Town Committee.
Just before O’Brien began the ceremony, the sun broke through the clouds and shone through the trees surrounding the bench and the beach.
“Here’s Bruce, big Bruce, with the sun shining in,” Goff said to the crowd.
Photo by Cady Stanton