CLINTON — A crowd of umbrellas gathered at Jack Boynton Community Pool Saturday for the official dedication ceremony of the new Ibby Chiquoine Pavilion.
Members of the pool board and community recognized Chiquoine, who could not be in attendance, for her dedication not only to the pool, but to the village she called home under rainy skies.
Chiquoine remained on the pool board from 1970 to 2012.
“She was an amazing treasure to the community while she was here,” said Clinton Youth Foundation President Alma Lowry as she opened the festivities.
Lowry said the Hamilton College Town Gown Fund provided major funding to construct the pavilion — $5,200. Ibby’s late husband Alexander was a biology professor at Hamilton for several years.
Dawn Burdick, former CYF president, spearheaded the effort to get the pavilion built, Lowry said. Clinton Central School also helped the board identify an appropriate structure and assisted with access to the pool site during construction. The pavilion is meant to be a place for children, as well as parents and guardians, to gather and enjoy some shade on hot summer days while the pool is open.
Chiquoine first served as the pool board’s vice-president, but by 1973 was elected to president, a title she held for 39 years. Members of the crowd joked about her defiance of term limits.
“She helped the pool get through many financial challenges and repairs,” Lowry said of Chiquoine, who also organized a swim team at the pool during her tenure. “She led the way in raising needed funds. The pool here is well-loved. Ibby is a wonderful gift and fixture to the community.”
With a capacity of about 200, Lowry said the pool has reached that attendance and beyond on several days this summer.
Mary Paul, a retired CCS teacher who taught kindergarten and third grade, said since moving to Clinton in 1976, she noticed Chiquoine was “always here” at the pool, and “you just saw her everywhere.”
Paul added that her children grew up coming to the pool and learned to swim there.
“My kids thought it was her pool, it was right in her back yard,” Paul laughed, arousing laughter from the audience.
Paul also recognized Chiquoine for her volunteerism at CCS, reporting to the elementary school five days a week.
“There wasn’t a job she’d turn down,” said Paul.
“She knew every child’s name and there wasn’t a child she couldn’t connect with. She even taught at the county jail once a week.”
Paul described how Chiquoine would bring a chart that showed how conflicts could escalate and the proper ways to deescalate issues, teaching children anti-bullying and conflict resolution.
“She never gave up,” the former teacher said. “If she knew things could be improved and changed, she did it. And then at around 4 p.m. every Sunday, she’d go to the Village Green and ask for peace.”
Mona Perrotti served on the pool board and registered voters in the village with Chiquoine, adding that the long-time community activist was awarded the Democracy in Action award back in 2012.
“We’re so pleased for this dedication today,” she said.
Steven Marcus, former elementary school principal, strapped on a backpack before sharing remarks about Chiquoine.
“This is how Ibby always came to work, with her backpack filled with books and her lunch,” Marcus said. “I knew she didn’t work” at the elementary school, “because she was always there. She’s the most humble, self-actualized person you could ever imagine. She would do things from the good of her heart and because she knew it was the right thing to do.”
Marcus noted that Chiquoine could often be seen throughout the village with her cardboard “Honk for Peace” sign, and even crafted his own in her honor. And there wasn’t a day she wouldn’t report to the school he said, recalling that one day she fell and broke her wrist but came in for volunteer work the following day.
“She is the most beautiful, dedicated person,” he said, adding that a tree planted on the CCS property line on Arbor Day was named for Chiquoine. As for the naming of the pavilion, “There’s no one more deserving,” Marcus said.
Chiquoine’s daughter Kate Stamm then accepted thank-you notes from the community and small gifts on her mother’s behalf.
“When I said to mom this was happening today, she said, ‘Oh, that’s really sweet of them,’ but she was so excited to know this (pool) was still going,” said Kate, fighting tears. “I was always here — I grew up here and was always fixing that pump. It was where kids got to go at 8-years-old, on their own, and be completely safe. It was clean fun, got us kids away from the T.V. and it was just a community here. Today it’s still going strong, and it’s such a great feeling for her.”
As for all her mother had done for Clinton, “I’m extremely proud of her,” Kate said. “We can only hope that we can do an eighth of what she’s done.”
The event concluded with Kate and her daughter Hannah unveiling the Ibby Chiquoine Pavilion plaque, which was donated and mounted by Bill Huggins from Hamilton College.