ROCKLAND, Maine — Local historian Thomas Molloy, a fixture on the city’s political and educational landscape for more than four decades, has been selected as the Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Chamber Person of the Year.
Molloy was honored at the Chamber’s 84th annual awards dinner held at the Samoset Resort in Rockport on Saturday night. A number of area businesses and individuals also were cited for recognition during the banquet.
The award is given annually to the person who through his professional and civic deeds has greatly enhanced the quality of life of the community.
“I’m overwhelmed,” Molloy said Sunday. “I just didn’t believe it. I really appreciate the fact that people felt I deserved this honor. To me, it’s just incredible.”
Molloy said he had “no idea whatsoever” in advance that he was this year’s selection. He said he felt somewhat embarrassed when his many civic accomplishments were cited. People don’t think about making a contribution when they volunteer their time, he said, they just want to see that the job gets done. Molloy said he was humbled to be grouped with the other person of the year selections.
“You look at the past recipients and they are just a group of incredible people,” Molloy said. “They put me on that same list, and I feel very honored.”
A retired teacher from Owls Head Central School and South School — though he still works part time as a substitute — Molloy is currently serving his sixth term on the Rockland City Council. He served eight terms as mayor. Beginning in 1974, Molloy has served on the council and as mayor in each of the last four decades. He also served on the Knox County Budget Committee and worked as a newsman for radio station WRKD.
“He has contributed his time and energy to our city, our county, our children, our schools,” presenter Jane Dagley noted. “This year’s winner has shared his passion to help make the Penobscot Bay Region a better place to live and to work.”
A Rockland native and lifelong resident, Molloy is the co-author of the history “Home Front on Penobscot Bay: Rockland During the War Years 1940-45.” Molloy and co-authors Ted Sylvester and Paul Merriam were young boys during World War II. The book describes how the Rockland area banded together in an era of uncertainty and shortages. Proceeds from the sale of the book have helped fund dozens of scholarships for Rockland students.
Molloy has served on the board of the Rockland District Nurses Association, Rockland Senior College and St. Bernard’s parish council. In 2004 the Maine Retired Teachers Association presented him with its Leadership Award. He is also a longtime supporter of the Bob Gagnon Cancer Fund and a Republican Party stalwart. He holds a master’s degree from the University of Maine and is a graduate of Cambridge School of Radio Broadcasting-Graham Junior College.
Molloy was born in the house across the street from where he now lives with his wife, Faye. Their daughter Marci lives in Warren and their son Christopher in Florida. Christopher surprised his father by flying up to attend the award dinner with the family.
“I went back to my table and someone was sitting in my chair,” Molloy said. “It was kind of surreal for a moment. Then I realized, ‘Hey, that’s my son.’”
Other awards presented by the Chamber during the dinner were:
ä The Community Spirit Award, given to the person or business that inspires the community and makes a difference through innovative community projects, was given to Kerry Altiero, owner of Cafe Miranda. Altiero was cited for reviving his business after it was destroyed by fire in September 2007. Opening night at the new Cafe Miranda served as a fundraiser for Rockland Emergency Medical Services.
ä The Waterfront Enhancement Award was given to O’Hara Corp.-Journey’s End Marina and Prock Marine, a pair of family-owned business operating along the city’s waterfront for more than 50 years.
ä The Business Innovation and Collaboration Award was given to Dave Tomm of Seasoned Workforce Program, a company that focuses on employment programs for older workers throughout the state.
ä The Community Service Award was given to the Rockland Festival Corp., sponsor of the Maine Lobster Festival, which has contributed funding to scores of projects over the course of its six decades of promoting the city as “The Lobster Capital of the World.”
ä The New Commercial Development and Economic Enhancement Award was given to Lowe’s Corp. for locating a retail home improvement outlet in Thomaston.
ä The Commercial Building Renovation Award was given to David Robichaud of Summers-Port Mercantile on the banks of the Weskeag River in South Thomaston.
ä The Business Expansion Award was given to Donna Bergen of Mars Hall Gallery at the Marshall homestead in St. George.
ä The Downtown Business District Interior and Exterior Improvement Award was given to Jake Dowling of the Dowling-Walsh Gallery on Main Street.
More than 350 attended the awards dinner and took part in paying tribute to the accomplishments of many organizations and individuals. TD Banknorth, TD Insurance, Webber Energy Fuels, Samoset Resort, Camden National Bank, Cape Air, FMC BioPolymer, Horch Roofing, J. Edward Knight Co., Machias Savings Bank and Maritime Energy sponsored the annual event.