Four honored by Fairfield Republicans

Republicans from across the state were in attendance at the Jacky Durrell Pavilion at Penfield Beach last Thursday night for the local GOP's annual Lobster Bake and Awards Ceremony.

Gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley, attorney general candidate Martha Dean and state Sen. John McKinney were a few of this year's Republican candidates on hand to show support for the four people -- two, posthumously -- honored by the Fairfield Republican Town Committee.

Brenda Kupchick, a former Board of Education member and Christopher Shays aide who currently serves as a constituent services representative to McKinney and is a legislative candidate, was honored with the Myrtle Miller Party Loyalty Award.

McKinney and Jamie Millington, the Representative Town Meeting majority leader, couldn't help but use the word "loyal" when talking about Kupchick, and not just because her citation was for "loyalty." McKinney recalled an earlier instance when GOP leaders had wanted Kupchick to run for state representative. While the campaign would have raised her profile, Kupchick decided to continue working for Shays, he said. She worked in Shays' district office for seven years as a caseworker, helping constituents navigate the government bureaucracy and fighting for their rights, he said.

No longer working for Shays, Kupchick this fall is running for state representative in the 132nd District.

Kupchick, in her remarks, acknowledged two people honored posthumously by the RTC with the Gerry Malafronte Community Service Award -- former Selectman Ralph Bowley and former RTM member Martha Sue Eckert.

"Ralph was a dear sweet man, kind, real and gentle," she said.

As for Eckert, Kupchick said she was a "mentor to me." "She was the majority leader when I got on the RTM and I always looked to her for guidance," she said. "I'm honored to be honored with the two of them."

Eckert served RTM District 3 for six terms and held various leadership positions, including majority and minority leader. She was also appointed by Gov. M. Jodi Rell to the Long Island Sound Liquefied Natural Gas Task Force in 2005.

RTC Chairman James Baldwin said of Eckert: "She was a leader in the Republican Party for as long as I can remember, whether in an official capacity or unofficial capacity. People looked to her for leadership and guidance on a whole range of issues, whether it was on the RTM or just in a social gathering, any sort of organization or cause that might be gathering."

"At the same time," Baldwin said, "she exuded grace and tact in all situations no matter how rancorous the debate would get."

Bowley, a certified real estate appraiser, served several terms as a member and chairman of the Zoning Board of Appeals. He was chairman of the Fairfield YMCA, a member of the Kiwanis Club of Fairfield, and deacon and elder at the First Presbyterian Church of Fairfield. A former coach of youth sports at Wakeman Boys and Girls Club and for the Fairfield Recreation Department, he was also a frequent volunteer at the Bridgeport Rescue Mission.

Baldwin described Bowley as "Mr. Fairfield."

"He was the quintessential citizen," he said. "He was a model citizen, a stand-up guy. He's someone that we would all like others to emulate."

Pam Iacono, a mother of three boys who is the vice chairman of the Board of Education, was given the Paul Tymniak Young Republican Award.

"She truly reflects a lot of the positives that we have going forward," said state Rep. Tony Hwang.

McKinney said that Iacono, in the short time since she joined the school board in 2008, has had a "tremendous impact on our town, the community of Fairfield, and her dedication to our schools and the kids in our school system, is something I think everyone admires her for, and she is someone who I think has a very bright future in public service."

Iacono responded, "I don't know anything other than being Republican. That's the way I was born. That's the way I was raised."