BY STACI WILSON
On the first Tuesday of November for at least the past 50 years 83 Susquehanna County residents have turned out to exercise their constitutional right to vote.
That dedication was recognized Friday as those voters were inducted into Pennsylvania’s Voters’ Hall of Fame in ceremony held in the Susquehanna County Courthouse.
For some of the honorees, 50 years is a small drop in a bucket compared with their actual voting record.
Betsy Small, 94, of Forest Lake, became eligible to vote in 1937 at the age of 21.
In the past 73 years, Small says she has missed only two elections – and thinks those may have been primaries.
She was born in Forest Lake, the eldest of seven children and left school early to seek work.
After working in households in the southern tier of New York and in Little Meadows, Small found work back in Forest Lake in the home of Selden Birchard.
Small said Birchard was involved in the Twp.’s politics and he prompted her to register to vote when she came of age.
Small said, “We voted down in the farm house. That’s where we voted (in Forest Lake) for a long time.”
Not only did Small turn out to vote each November. She also served as a poll worker for years in the Twp..
But she was not alone in her political work, Small’s husband, whom she met while the two of them were working for the Birchard’s, became a committee man in the Twp..
Small’s son, Loren and his daughter (Betsy’s granddaughter) Kristen Burkhart, also attended the Voters’ Hall of Fame ceremony.
Loren said his parents taught him the importance of voting. “When we were eligible to vote, we registered and voted,” he said – with the exception of a couple of glitches in years when he had moved, Loren thinks he, too, has amassed a regular voting record in the county.
During the ceremony, Pennsylvania Dept. of State Executive Deputy Secretary Thomas Weaver said, “Whether you defend the country; raise a family; or simply go to work every day – you all took time to go out to vote every year.”
Weaver said the honorees had earned a unique place in Pennsylvania history. The names of all who were recognized will be part of a plaque hung on permanent display in the Voters’ Hall of Fame in Harrisburg.
“Our way of life is strongly rooted in exercising our right to vote,” Weaver said.
On behalf of Governor Ed Rendell and Governor-elect Tom Corbett, Weaver said, “I’m calling on you to share your stories and reach out to younger generations of voters.
He told the Hall of Famers they were the “ambassadors of democracy.”
Weaver said, “Encourage younger voters to register to vote and remind them why it is important.”
“The way to be heard in our democracy and to preserve the health and future of our great nation is to vote,” Weaver said.
In addition to Weaver, Rep. Tina Pickett, along with representatives from Sen. Lisa Baker, Rep. Sandra Major and County Commissioners Michael Giangrieco, Leon Allen and MaryAnn Warren were on hand for the ceremony and the presentation of the certificates.
Those honored include: James K. Adams, Harford Twp.; June Allen; Bridgewater Twp.; Mary Jane Anderson, Jackson Twp.; Robert E. Anderson Sr., Jackson Twp., Waneta J. Barber, Hop Bottom ; John S. Baron, Forest City, 2nd Ward; Leonard Bartkus, Gibson Twp.; James R. Beavan, Great Bend Twp.; Shirley Beavan, Great Bend Twp.; Betty Beeman, Rush Twp.; Louise Beeman, Brooklyn Twp.; Joan S. Benson, Jackson Twp.; Marian D. Borick, Herrick Twp.; Antoinette Bronchella, Forest City 2nd Ward; Leon C. Button, Great Bend Twp.; Joseph A. Canini, Susquehanna 1st Ward; Dorothy J. Carey, Choconut Twp.; Helen Carpenetti, Lathrop Twp.; Shirley C. Cokely, Springville Twp.; Hilda Lois Delp, Dimock Twp.; Robert Deluca, Harford Twp.; Robert H. Elliott, Silver Lake Twp.; Jerald Ely, Dimock Twp.; Rosarii C. Emmett, Forest City 2nd Ward; Elizabeth D. Fancher, Montrose 1st Ward; Margaret M. Flaherty, Choconut Twp.; Dorothy Foster, Union Dale; Joseph Franceski, Clifford Twp.; Dorothy Gantar, Forest City 2nd Ward; Teddy K. Gesford, Bridgewater Twp.; Gerald A. Guiton, Middletown Twp.; John Guiton, Middletown Twp.; Alice H. Hall, Hallstead; Robert P. Hastings, Little Meadows; Betty A . Hicks, Rush Twp., Amos P. Hollister, Montrose 1st Ward; Ethel A. Hollister, Montrose 1st Ward; Robert H. Hummel, Dimock Twp.; Martha A. Jenkins, Harford Twp.; Doris Jones, Jessup Twp.; Robert B. Keenan, Middletown Twp.; Emma H. Klees, Gibson Twp.; Otto W. Klees, Gibson Twp.; Elizabeth Laurie, Harford Twp.; Ruth M. Lawrence, New Milford Twp.; William B. Lopatofsky, Clifford Twp.; Mary Alice Manning, Gibson Twp.; Nancy A. Marr, Harford Twp.; Joseph F. Mayers, Forest City 1st Ward; Elaine A. Mclaud, Brooklyn Twp.; Doris E. Mitchell, Springville Twp., Vonda C. Nash, Choconut Twp.; William W. Nash, Choconut Twp.; Carole A. Nasser, Bridgewater Twp.; Richard J. Nasser, Bridgewater Twp.; Josephine Opeka, Forest City 1st Ward; Josephine M. Orasin, Forest City 1st Ward; A. Lyman Palmer, Springville Twp.; Anne M. Pavlovich, Forest City 2nd Ward; Louise Petrus, Herrick Twp.; Mary C. Pierzga, Forest City 2nd Ward; Isabell Helen Plonski, Gibson Twp.; Delbert W. Potts, Forest Lake Twp.; Lewis E. Price, Herrick Twp.; Lillian A. Price, Herrick Twp.; Raymond Rood, Hallstead; Patrick J. Ryan; Lanesboro; Mabel Sheldon, Thompson Twp.; Betsy Small, Forest Lake Twp.; Raymond Lee Smith Jr., Bridgewater Twp.; Barbara S. Squier, Springville Twp.; Charlotte A. Squier, Bridgewater Twp.; Donald M. Stone, Ararat Twp.; Thomas T. Susco, Forest City 1st Ward; Angeline Svecz, Herrick Twp.; Joseph Svecz, Herrick Twp.; Robert Swegel, Herrick Twp.; Margaret J. Ward, New Milford Twp.; Carolyn F. Warner, Montrose 1st Ward; Helen Whitehead, New Milford Twp.; Stephen R. Whitmore, Silver Lake Twp.; Ruth Williams, Lathrop Twp.; Arthur Yanchitis, Forest City 1st Ward