Maureen McGowan Barbelet

12/01 Astorino Announces 35th Annual Senior Hall of Fame Luncheon 1 PM

Written By: Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino

WHITE PLAINS, NY — County Executive Robert P. Astorino will join in honoring the achievements of 70 senior citizens from 30 municipalities throughout Westchester during the 35th Annual Senior Citizens Hall of Fame Awards Luncheon on Friday, Dec. 1, from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Westchester Marriott in Tarrytown.  This year’s program, the largest to date, will present the Top Honoree award to Iris Freed, a 97-year-old Larchmont resident with more than 30 years of community service.         

“Westchester’s Senior Hall of Fame is a unique tradition that brings together some of the most knowledgeable, skilled and experienced residents you will ever meet,” said Astorino.  “It is an honor to recognize seniors who not only dedicate their time, energy and talents to serving others, but also inspire us to follow in their footsteps by living with dignity, respect and appreciation for all.” 

Award recipients are nominated by their communities and selected by a committee comprised of past honorees.  Top Honoree Iris Freed, is 97 years old and exemplifies the true spirit of volunteerism through her dedication to various charitable organizations in Westchester and beyond for more than 30 years.  She helped found HOPE Community Services in New Rochelle, was co-founder of Women Strike for Peace and volunteers for WESPAC Foundation, Pet Rescue and more. 

Four seniors have also been awarded with Special Recognition: Maureen McGowan Barbelet of Tarrytown, Francine Bernard of Armonk, George Coniglio of Greenburgh, and Patricia Hitchcock of Croton Falls.  And, 65 seniors have received honorable mention.  The class includes 20 inductees who are over the age of 80 and three over age 90.  It also features one married couple. 

The program will start at 11:30 a.m. and top honors will be presented at 12 noon.  The induction of the Class of 2017 will take place at approximately 1:45 p.m.  More than 500 guests are expected to attend.  Advanced tickets are required for the luncheon and are $65 each.  For ticket sales and more information, contact Rose Cappa at or (914) 747-0519.

The Senior Citizens Hall of Fame is sponsored by the Westchester County Department of Senior Programs and Services (DSPS); the Westchester County Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation; Westchester County Livable Communities and the Westchester Public/Private Partnership for Aging Services.

“Hall of Fame honorees are valuable members of our community who use their own life skills and lessons to provide services to those who need them most,” said DSPS Commissioner Mae Carpenter.  “These individuals have been there, done that and continue to live active and fulfilling lives by engaging in community service and helping others.  We appreciate their contributions and thank them for making Westchester a better place for us and future generations.”  

The Senior Citizens Hall of Fame began in 1983, the year the county marked its tri-centennial.  Since then, more than 1,100 seniors have been inducted.  To be nominated, seniors must have made significant and enduring contributions to enhance Westchester’s quality of life through their professional work, volunteer achievements or both.  Nominations are made by members of the community and honorees are selected by a committee of former hall of fame inductees.  The names of past honorees are engraved on plaques that are permanently displayed at the DSPS office in Mount Vernon.

Annual sponsors of the event are United Hebrew, the Ambassador of Scarsdale, Aging in America, Barbara Abram of William Raveis Legends Realty Group, Bethel Homes and Services, Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, JMC Site Development Consultants, the Harry and Janette Weinberg Center of Elder Abuse Prevention and Wartburg.  Event gold sponsors are Jansen Hospice and MVP Health.  Silver sponsors of the event are AgeWell New York, Burke Rehabilitation Hospital, Kommer Bave & Ollman, LLP., Meridian Risk Management and Yvonne Tropp.

Westchester County Senior Citizens Hall of Fame Class of 2017

Top Honors:  Iris Freed, Larchmont

At 97 years old, Iris Freed still manages to stay active and involved in our community.  Iris worked for the Bronx Zoo as an instructor and leader for international visitors, but has resided in Westchester for 64 years and has been a driving force behind various charitable organizations for more than 30 years.  Iris helped found HOPE Community Services in New Rochelle and is co-founder of Women Strike for Peace.  In addition, she is active at Pet Rescue and is an advocate for abused and neglected animals.  She has been a part of the WESPAC Foundation for over 43 years and was an active member of the Mamaroneck Schools Parent Teacher Association.  Iris lives in Larchmont.  She was married to Dr. Selwyn Freed and is the mother of two daughters. 

Special Recognition:  Maureen McGowan Barbelet, Tarrytown

Maureen has dedicated her life to community service.  She has a degree in Teaching and Early Childhood Education and has always worked with children is some capacity.  She taught CCD at Transfiguration Church, was active in the PTA, served as a Trustee and School Board President for the Public Schools of Tarrytown and served as the Executive Director of the Elizabeth Mascia Child Care Center.  After retirement, she continued her dedication to the community by assisting as an advisor to the Child Care Counsel of Westchester and serving on the board of the Tarrytown Community Opportunity Center.  She is also part of a committee called “It Takes a Village,” which helps seniors “age in place.”   She was married to Jerry Barbelet and they have three sons and three grandchildren. 

Special Recognition:  Francine Bernard, Armonk

Fran has lived in the Town of New Castle for 43 years and has children living in New York City and the tristate area.  Fran has been active with the American Red Cross for many years and has taken on the role of Mass Care Shelter Lead for Westchester County.  Her team can coordinate a “go” team to respond to shelter needs in crisis.  She acts as manager and has served under some of the most difficult situations that can be.  She drives the Emergency Response Vehicle and is trained to respond to help provide assistance during house and apartment fires.  She helped develop a new training curriculum so other volunteers would be better prepared to work in shelters and has reviewed venues to survey their ability to become shelters.  In addition to her Red Cross volunteer assignments, Fran has been active in campaign work for the Democratic Campaign and marched at the Women’s March in NYC. 

Special Recognition:  George Coniglio, Peekskill

George Coniglio had a 20 year career at as the Director of Senior Citizen Programs and Services at the Theodore D. Young Community Center in Greenburgh.  Prior to that, he was a Recreational Therapist at Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in Queens.  George started volunteering as a part time Chaplin, at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in 2013, just after he retired.  He has brought great empathy, sensitivity and humility to the role and has counseled many through difficult situations.  He has also worked as a New York State Ombudsman from 2014 to 2017, advocating for the rights of nursing home patients and leading workshops on empathy throughout Westchester.  He joined “County Harvest” for weekly food runs to St. Peter’s Episcopal Church and the United Methodist Church, both in Peekskill.  Since retiring, George has become an active member of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Mohegan Lake.  He also started the first Unitarian Animal Ministry Chapter in Westchester.

Special Recognition:  Patricia Hitchcock, Croton Falls

Patricia is a life-long resident of Croton Falls.  A Registered Geriatric Nurse, she worked for the Westchester County Department of Mental Health, Somers Manor Nursing Home and Waterview Nursing Home.  Patricia uses her background in geriatrics to help other seniors realize their significance.  She attained her EMT certification and is a life member of the North Salem Ambulance Corps.  As a volunteer, Patricia has been an active member and Chairperson of the Nominating Committee for the North Salem Senior Citizens for over 25 years.  In addition, she is a lifetime member of the Croton Falls Community Church and a driver for FISH (Friends in Service Helping).  Patricia was an original founder of the Friends of Karen.  She is also an active Officer in the Order of the Eastern Star for more than 30 years.  She was married to David Hitchcock and together they have two daughters. 

Westchester Senior Citizens Hall of Fame Class of 2017

Ardsley – Stephen  Wittenberg

Armonk –  Francine “Fran” Bernard**, Vivian Utko

Bronxville – Kerry E. Smith

Croton Falls – Patricia  Hitchcock**

Croton-on-Hudson – Alma Cormican, Deven Sharma, Rhoda Stephens

Eastchester–  C. Alan Benedict, Rose Gentile

Greenburgh – Lillie Green, Napoleon Mitchell, Barbara W. Perry

Larchmont – Iris Freed*, Patricia Miner Sutherland, Lawrence J. Spano

Mamaroneck – Edward Piacente, Stephen  Scarangella, Yvonne Tropp

Mount Kisco – Jackie Jones

Mt Vernon – Audrey Bond, Mary Anne Cioffi, Ralph  Cioffi, Irwin S. Davison, Dennis  Jobin, Melo Edwards Jones, Jr., Louise Rodrick

New Rochelle – Arleen Zuckerman

Ossining – Beth Casso, John Gallagher

Peekskill – George Coniglio**, Jini George Cummins, Janice Livingston

Pelham – Alice Dean, Joseph Solimine, Sr.

Port Chester – Doris Bailey-Reavis, Carlton Thomas (Tom) Kissner

Rye – Gene C. Collins, Lester J. Millman

Rye Brook – Dick Hubert

Scarsdale – Trudy Ahlbrecht, Chander  Kala Ahuja, Harry Lennon

Somers – Patrick J. Mulholland

South Salem – Joan Zurell

Tarrytown – Maureen McGowan Barbelet* 

Thornwood – Mary Ann Alagno

Valhalla – Elinor Marzelli, Regina Zeppieri

Verplanck – Mary Naperski

West Harrison – Daniel D. AngiolilloWhite Plains – Nick Bielenson, Nancy Bowser, Margaret (Peg) Cataldo, Doreen Ernest, Cynthia A. H. Long,

Peggy D. Owens, Agnes Scheu, Nicholas Wolff

Yonkers – Cathy Ahlers, Joseph D.  Blanck, Linda Bohan, Henry  Doerr, Jr. , Albert Gorges, Murray Heit, Pedro Maymi, Janice V. Phillips, Lucille Winton

Yorktown Heights – Mary Jane Karger, Jo-Ann Sillik, Henry “Harry” Stanton

Honorable Mention

* Top Honoree

** Special Recognition Honoree

For additional information about the Senior Citizens Hall of Fame, call DSPS at (914) 813-6300 or visit