MILLBURN, NJ — The Saint George Award is one of the most distinguished service medals a person can receive.
The award comes from the Youth Ministries of the Episcopal Church, and in its entire 30-year history, has only been awarded to approximately 1,400 recipients, no more than 70 per year. In order to be nominated, multiple people must come forward to endorse the candidate.
As a result, it is rare that one person is given the award. Yesterday morning at Christ Church in Short Hills, two township residents received it. Gil and Juli Towell were honored for their decades of selfless work, which earned both of them the Saint George Award.
Gil is a long-time member of the church, and was a former scout leader of B.S.A. Troop 15 as well a former member of the Millburn Board of Education from 1975 to 1978. Along with his community service to the board and church, Gil also served a stint in the army.
While Gil was honored to receive the award, he was a man of few words, simply happy that his wife of so many years was alongside him to receive it as well.
"It's fun to have," Gil said. "Especially [being awarded] with Juli, because Juli puts in more time than I do now. I've been here for 50 years, and that's pretty good."
To that end Juli's contributions have included being active in Girl Scouting and her church community. Juli has also helped to chair the Gertrude Butts Scholarship Fund, which helps to provide collegiate and vocational scholarships in the Newark Diocese.
She was fore forthcoming, and talked about the impact serving the community has had on both their lives.
"The thing I have come t o realize about my life is that one of the things I'm really interested in is education for the young people," Juli said. "The scouts really did it for our son, and for Gil too when he was a scoutmaster. It's really an incredible peice of my life."