Friday, October 28, 2011

Way to Unite

As an unlikely snow fell on Main Street on Thursday evening, an even unlikelier scene unfolded in the Weitzman Room of the Inn at Middletown. Fully 100 people gathered for an exposé of two of Middletown's most respected citizens. Many in the audience blushed as shocking revelations were launched and scandals were uncovered - and it wasn't even a Mayoral debate!

It was a roast - the first annual United Way Leadership Roast, and Jean and Biff Shaw were the targets. In spite of a life spent in good deeds (they were recognized in recent years as Citizens of the Year by the Chamber and awarded honorary doctorates from Wesleyan), there were plenty who were willing to poke some fun at the Shaws.

John Biddiscombe complemented Biff's tailor, RW Camp (gone, lo these many decades) and accused Jean of having a mean streak, telling how she once lobbed the University's Baldwin medal at some deer who were poaching her shrubbery. One yarn involved the theory that Biff and Jean were undercover agents - seriously, who could be that straight in real life?

United Way Executive Director Kevin Wilhelm tried hard to be funny, striking his best blow against one of his biggest funders - odd choice there, Kevin. Here's a photo of people at the Liberty Bank table trying not to laugh at Chandler Howard, Liberty's CEO.

In the end, we all donned Biff and Jean masks and cheered this couple who have done so much for our community, in spite of how we treat them.

Shown above: the former and current executive directors of United Way, Patti Vassia & Kevin Wilhelm. Here are the real Shaws:

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