MIDDLEBURY — By all accounts, the late Sonny Cyr would respond to pretty much any call for help at any time of day during his 42-year career with the Middlebury Department of Public Works.
Cyr’s history of dedication and self-sacrifice won him a lot of friends, who mourned the man’s passing this past January at the age of 67. Now those friends, with the hearty endorsement of Middlebury officials, will pay a lasting tribute to Cyr. On Wednesday, May 26, at 3 p.m., Middlebury will officially dedicate the Sonny Cyr Public Works Facility at 1020 Route 7 South.
“It’s a wonderful gesture; I wish he could have been here to see it,” Cyr’s widow, Nancy, said on Thursday. “He would have been thrilled.”
Cyr joined the Middlebury DPW in the 1960s as a laborer. He would work his way up the ladder to highway foreman, and later in his career became manager of special projects — such as maintaining municipal flower beds, roadside mowing, winding the Congregational Church of Middlebury’s steeple clock, and general maintenance.
But no real job description quite covered Cyr’s tasks, according to those who knew him and worked with him. If a call came in about a downed tree or a snow-blocked road, Cyr would respond. If anyone wanted to know where a specific sewer pipe was really located, they would ask Cyr.
“He kept himself rather busy,” said Verna Watson, a longtime Middlebury DPW administrative assistant who worked with Cyr for many years. “He was a town employee who really gave his all to the town.”
That sentiment was echoed by Middlebury Director of Operations Dan Werner.
“When someone called, Sonny went out,” Werner said. “Those were the days when work was part of your heart.”
Cyr not only went to jobs at all hours, he mostly did it with a smile, according to those who knew him.
“Sonny was very easy going,” Watson said. “He was conscientious. He had a good rapport with the people in town and with the contractors he worked with.”
He developed a tradition of presenting a carnation corsage to each of the town’s female employees on Valentine’s Day. It was a tradition honored to the day Cyr died, when the recipients of those floral gifts reciprocated with an arrangement of red and white carnations for his funeral. The Cyr family handed out carnations to all the ladies as they entered the church.
Cyr, facing increasingly poor health, retired from the DPW in 2004. Cyr, also a 40-year veteran of the Middlebury Fire Department, died on Jan. 27.
Beth Dow, who has worked in various capacities with the town since 1972, said that while colleagues held a retirement luncheon for him, Cyr never really got the send-off that many folks thought he deserved.
Soon after Cyr died, Dow thought it would be appropriate to give him an additional, posthumous tribute — to name the DPW building, in which he worked so many years, in his honor.
Dow pitched the tribute to the Middlebury selectboard, which unanimously approved the measure. A sign will be posted in front of the DPW building to formalize the honor.
The sign will provide an additional reminder to people of the services Cyr provided to the town.
“He was always doing something for someone,” Dow said.
Reporter John Flowers is at firstname.lastname@example.org.