The former mayor, longtime resident and public servant’s name will be added to the plaque, which hangs in Wellington Village Hall.
WELLINGTON — The founder’s plaque hanging in Village Hall soon will welcome a new name.
The Wellington Village Council voted unanimously last week to add former Mayor Tom Wenham’s name to the plaque, which includes names of other community members dubbed founders of Wellington.
Wenham moved to Wellington in 1981 and was pivotal in the village’s incorporation. He sat on Wellington’s first council, formed in 1996. From 2000 to 2003, he was the "selected mayor," chosen by his fellow council members to serve in that position. And in 2003, he became the council’s first elected mayor.
Since leaving the council, Wenham has served on several village boards and is the chairman of the Wellington Community Foundation.
Attending the meeting to present information on a new community initiative to honor veterans, Wenham appeared genuinely surprised when Councilman Michael Drahos proposed adding the Korean War veteran’s name to the plaque.
"Every member on that plaque is very worthy of the distinction," Drahos said. "But in my humble opinion, it’s not complete yet, because there’s somebody very worthy of recognition for their years of service to this community."
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Vice Mayor Michael Napoleone seconded Drahos’ motion, saying, "You have done more than people are even remotely aware of."
Adding Wenham’s name is "a great way to honor you for all your years of service to Wellington," Councilwoman Tanya Siskind said.
"Obviously this is not a surprise to any of us," Councilman John McGovern said.
"But a surprise to me," Wenham quipped.
The last name added to the plaque was that of Ken Adams in February 2013. Other names on the plaque are Guerry Stribling, Father John Dockerill, the Rev. John Mangrum, C. Oliver Wellington, A.W. "Bink" Glisson, Richard Palenschat and Robert Markey Sr.
"When you talk about the names — Stribling, Wellington, Glisson, Markey, Adams," McGovern said. "This is a list of names that everyone knows, that are held reverently in this community. And as the councilman said, this list is incomplete without your name."
Wenham, who typically prepares written remarks before appearing at council meetings, had nothing prepared.
"What does one say?" he said, choking up. "Thank you … I wasn’t prepared for this."
Wenham’s wife of 67 years, Regis, joined him at the podium. She wrapped her arms around him as tears filled their eyes.
"She’s held you up," Mayor Anne Gerwig said of Regis. "And she’s holding you up now."
Tom Wenham noted that in the past, he voted for some of the names on the plaque to be added.
"It’s just a thrill to have it happen for both Regis and myself," he said.
Note: This article has been updated to clarify when Tom Wenham served as mayor of Wellington, to differentiate between years when he was selected to the position and then elected by Wellington voters.