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Hildene Award honors 100 years of service

MANCHESTER — A celebratory luncheon was held on July 26 at Hildene, the Lincoln Family Home, on Sunday, July 26, to honor Susanne Rappaport posthumously and Jane Beck. Rappaport’s award was accepted on her behalf by her lifelong friend Eileen Travell.
The Hildene Award is given annually to Vermonters who have made extraordinary contributions in the areas of land conservation and/or historic preservation. Collectively Rappaport and Beck have dedicated nearly 100 years to preserving the stories, traditions and legacies of Vermonters.
Jane Beck, Vermont’s first and longest serving folklorist is director emeritus of the Vermont Folklife Center in Middlebury. Susannne Rappaport received the 2014 Vermont Historical Society’s prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award. Both clearly fit the profile of past award honorees: Sen. James Jeffords, Darby Bradley, Linda Ramsdell, Andrea Rogers and Paul Bruhn. The important work of past and present recipients is the embodiment of Hildene’s mission: Values into Action.
Molly Biggs Celani, president of the board of trustees of the Slate Valley Museum, said, “Susanne taught us to see that the history of a place is about the history of the people of that place.” Gregory Sharrow, co-director of the Vermont Folklife Center, said, “Thanks to Jane many things that would have remained unknown are known, and many elements of our history that were hidden are revealed.”
Given annually, the Hildene Award includes a $10,000 prize which is given to a nonprofit project in Vermont of the honorees’ choosing, for which $10,000 would make a real difference. Honoree Jane Beck announced that this year’s $10,000 prize would be used for a much needed 21st-century facelift for a database of photos, audio excerpts and detailed descriptions from the Pawlet community, collected over more than three decades by Susanne Rappaport and photographer husband, Neil.
The keynote address was delivered by longtime Vermont Life editor and VPR commentator Tom Slayton, who said, “The stories that Jane and Susanne have told and saved are not just stories about the people and the land but rather a story about how those two elements interacted: How the people shaped the land and how the land shaped the people.”
The event concluded at the Hildene Award trailhead with the unveiling of trail cairn markers for Beck and Rappaport by Hildene President, Seth Bongartz.
To learn more about Hildene, go to www.hildene.org or Like Hildene on Facebook.

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