On May 25, the Westfield Historical Society will have its 48th Annual Dinner at the Echo Lake Country Club. Starting at 5:30 p.m. is the general membership meeting followed by social/cocktail half hour at 6 p.m. and the dinner at 6:30 p.m. This event is open to the public.

We are proud to announce the following Westfield Historical Society Hall of Fame Inductees, along with the President and Trustee Award Winners for 2016:

Westfield Historical Society Hall of Fame Inductee - Lee M. Hale (1924-2013)

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Lee M. Hale, a former Trustee of the Westfield Historical Society and retired Merck executive, was a major supporter of converting the Reeve House into a museum and home for the Westfield Historical Society. He also chaired the Westfield Historical Society Hall of Fame. Lee made community support a priority in his life early on taking on numerous roles in the many sports, civic and financial organizations in Westfield and beyond.   He served as a board member, officer, president, or director with many organizations including the Westfield Y, The Westfield Boosters, Children's Specialized Hospital, The Westfield Foundation, Elizabeth General Hospital, The Cancer Institute of New Jersey, the Overlook Foundation and The United Fund.  Actively involved in the Westfield Presbyterian Church Burial Grounds Restorations Project, Lee Hale served in World War II, with the 78th Lighting Division, for which he earned a Purple Heart.

Westfield Historical Society Hall of Fame Inductee – James O. Plinton, Jr. (1914-1996)

James O. Plinton Jr., born in Westfield, was one of the first African-Americans to be named an executive in the airline industry, eventually becoming a vice president at Eastern Airlines. After becoming a successful executive in the airline industry, he was elected president of the national Y.M.C.A. Mr. Plinton began his career working in the post office and the merchant marine but then pursued his passion for flying by entering the University of Newark's Division of Aeronautics, where he earned a commercial pilot's license and flight instructor's rating. He went on to the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama and joined the flight training staff of the United States Army Air Corps as one of the first African-American flight instructors of the 99th Pursuit Squadron. He trained about 150 pilots, many of whom saw action in World War II and became known as the Tuskegee Airmen.

Westfield Historical Society Hall of Fame Inductee – Martin Wallberg

Private Martin Wallberg made his home at 1024 South Avenue where he became a member of the Baptist church and joined the Boys' Brigade. Upon the outbreak of the World War I, Private Wallberg, though seventeen at the time, made his way to Canada and joined Company D, 16th Platoon, 8th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Forces, going to France soon after from a training camp near Montreal. After safely passing through many trying experiences, Private Wallberg went "over the top" for the last time on November 10, 1917, and was caught in a terrific rain of shellfire from the German heavy guns, and was killed at the age of 19.

The Garden Club of Westfield – Trustees Award

The Garden Club of Westfield was founded in 1922 by a group of women interested in sharing their enthusiasm for horticulture and flower design.  Throughout the Club’s history, members have endeavored to serve the community through civic projects such as community beautification, educational events, garden therapy for disabled veterans and senior citizens, and garden tours.

The Rake and Hoe Garden Club – Trustees Award

The Rake and Hoe Garden Club’s mission is to educate their membership and the public in horticulture, floral design, nature, and wildlife. The garden club members are very community minded and work with the Lyons Hospital, Cerebral Palsy, Mobile Meals, and four community gardens in Westfield.

Robert Wendel – President’s Award

Robert Wendel holds a Trustee/Vice President position on the board of the Westfield Historical Society and has served in several capacities in the organization over the last few years. Having led Public Relations, Membership, historical tour development and docent training, as well as active participation in the building & grounds, Archives and Fundraising committees for the Society, he works with volunteers to bring alive Westfield's history by leading interpretive tours during Reeve House and Miller-Cory House Museum events.

The annual dinner is open to all members of the community. We invite all who are interested in attending to please contact the Westfield Historical Society at 908-654-1794 or by email to westfieldhistoricalsociety@gmail.com.The cost is $65 for members ($70 for non members). Kindly RSVP by Friday May 13.