Two plaques honoring Warwick’s past Citizens of the Year hang in the Warwick Town Hall. Warwick Attorney Lawrence Stage was the first recipient of the honor in 1968 when the Jaycees inaugurated the program. In 2018, 50 years after his grandfather was honored, Doug Stage, also a lawyer, was selected Warwick Citizen of the Year.
The Warwick Jaycees, a local chapter of what had previously been known as the Junior Chamber of Commerce, hosted the awards dinner until 1999, when the club went inactive because of decreasing membership.
Organizations were honored in two of the 44 years. In 1986 Warwick Against the Radioactive Dump was saluted for its successful battle against New Jersey placing radioactive waste near the Warwick-Vernon border. In 2010 the Warwick Chamber of Commerce was chosen.
The husband-and-wife team of George and Mary Goodman was the first married couple honored. Two other couples also made the select list. Dr. Harry Sayre was chosen Citizen of the Year in 1972, and his wife, “Pete,” was honored in 1990. In 2014, Glenn P. and Susan D. Dickes were honored.
Entertainers won back-to-back awards when Tony and Emmy award winner Richard Kiley was selected Citizen of the Year in 1994 and radio and television personality Dick Wells captured the award the following year. Two local publishers have been selected Citizens of the Year. Betty Jane Wright, publisher of the Warwick Valley Dispatch, was honored in 1996, and Stan Martin, publisher of The Warwick Advertiser, in 2017.
There were no recipients in 1997 and 1998. Auto dealer Leo Kaytes was chosen in 1999 for his decades of community service. His son, Leo R. Kaytes, was last year’s recipient.
The Warwick Valley Rotary Club reactivated the Citizen of the Year program in 2008. Clayton Eurich, who helped almost 100 Boy Scouts become Eagle Scouts, won that year. The following year Frank Cassanite, Jr., head of the Warwick Ambulance Corps, was chosen.