By Richard Kaufman
There was an outpouring of love, respect and admiration at the Tamarack Country Club last Thursday as Bea and Peter Crumbine were presented with the fifth annual David N. Theis Award for Outstanding Service to the Community from the Glenville Volunteer Fire Company.
The award, which was given to State. Rep. Livvy Floren in 2015, Terry Betteridge of Betteridge Jewelers in 2016, Scott and Icy Frantz in 2017 and Ed Dadakis last year, is presented to a deserving individual from Greenwich who selflessly and compassionately serves the town’s residents, organizations and institutions in an admirable and tireless manner.
The award was created to memorialize the late David Theis, former First Selectman of Greenwich who passed away in 2014. Theis was a strong presence in the community and an avid supporter of the GVFC.
For GVFC President, Sandy Kornberg, this year’s recipients are well-deserving of the award.
“[Bea and Peter] are a mainstay in Greenwich for sure. They’re so well known by everybody, and so greatly appreciated by everyone. They’re just a perfect fit to be our honorees,” Kornberg said.
Peter served as a selectman in Greenwich for five terms from 1999 to 2009. Prior to that, he spent four years in the Representative Town Meeting and the Board of Estimate and Taxation. Currently, he’s the president of the Greenwich Horseneck Club, and Greenwich Green & Clean. He has also served on the Selectman’s Nominations Advisory Committee since its inception in 2004, and is a member of the First Friday Club.
Bea is Greenwich’s “Ambassador-at-Large”, and has helped foster sister-city relationships in Italy and China, bringing delegations overseas and hosting them here in town. Music has also been a big part of Bea’s life, as she is an accomplished opera singer. She has performed in Greenwich with The Grace Notes, and has sung at the White House, Carnegie Hall, and the Vatican for Pope Benedict.
Bea was instrumental in beginning the town’s Fourth of July Ceremony at Town Hall, and recently, she helped to restore six 10,000 pound stone monoliths at the Montgomery Pinetum Property in Cos Cob. She has also served on various boards in town.
The Crumbines said they were honored to receive the award, but were quick to praise Theis and what he meant to Greenwich.
Bea said she’s often reminded of Theis’ legacy when she drives over the Mianus Bridge which is named in his honor.
“This is quite an evening for Bea and myself. It’s particularly meaningful because it also honors David Theis,” Peter said. Peter recalled that Theis, who succeeded Peter as selectman, would often call asking for advice.
Peter went on to say that he often feels odd when people thank him for his service to the community, because he believes service is its own reward. “I would not have made it in public life for 18 years if I didn’t enjoy every minute. In a sense, I should be thanking Greenwich and the Glenville volunteers, rather than the other way around,” he said in closing.
Greenwich Police Chief and former GVFC Chief, James Heavey, was the master of ceremonies for the event, which also served as a big fundraiser for the GVFC.
Attendees had the chance to bid on silent auction items such as tickets to the 2020 Greenwich Town Party, or even a Greenwich Police Marine experience. All proceeds from the event are put back into the GVFC to help its volunteers, along with the purchase of new equipment.
“The support from the community has been tremendous,” said GVFC Chief, Michael Hoha.
Several people spoke about the Crumbines and Theis, and what they’ve meant to Greenwich over the years.
First Selectman, Peter Tesei, who served with Peter Crumbine during his inaugural term, thanked him for his “partnership and friendship.” Tesei highlighted the approval of Cos Cob Park as a major accomplishment and a fond memory with Peter Crumbine.
Tesei called Bea a “true gem” and “the most pleasant person in the town of Greenwich.”
“Bea and Peter Crumbine are two very special and devoted people. They’re devoted to each other and supportive of each of their respective community endeavors. They’re proud parents and grandparents, approaching service to our town with the same level of love, commitment and joy that they do their own family. It’s so fitting that they’re being jointly recognized this evening,” Tesei added.
Longtime friend, Frank DiVincenzo, spoke about his friendship with the Crumbines.
“He who finds a friend, finds a treasure,” he said, first in Italian. “While Bea and Peter Crumbine represent what is good in America, you can’t have a complete success in business and life unless you dedicate part of it to public service.”
Former State Sen. Scott Frantz said the Crumbines “define what Greenwich is all about as far as its culture, character and integrity.”
“They have set such a good example for so many of us. I’ve always thought of [Peter] as the quintessential statesman in our town. Bea, you are the Ambassador-at-Large superstar and rock star. Everything you do, you bring such grace and such enthusiasm,” Frantz added. “I’m convinced that David Theis is smiling like the rest of us are tonight.”
The Crumbines were given honorary badges and an award which featured a small GVFC fireman’s helmet. State Reps. Fred Camillo and Livvy Floren presented them with an official citation from Hartford commemorating their award. Sen. Richard Blumenthal also presented the Crumbines with a citation.
The event was a fitting tribute to the memory of a Greenwich pillar and to those that continue to serve the community. The GVFC hopes to continue this event for many years to come.
“When David Theis was in office, he was a great supporter of the volunteer firefighters throughout the town. That’s why we’re honored to honor his memory and legacy with the award,” Hoha said.
It’s safe to say the legacy and spirit of David Theis was felt throughout the entire evening.