By Jennifer L. Warren
BEACON– It’s now official: August 29 is forever Clara Lou Gould Day in the City of Beacon.
The well-deserved honor was officially bestowed by Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, as he spoke outside of Beacon City Hall at last Thursday’s reception, honoring Gould on her 92nd birthday. Surrounded by a large gathering of friends, family and residents who continue to adore the woman and respect the positive imprint she has left on the City she loves, Beacon, Gould was touched by the outpouring of love, which included the unveiling of a plaque as well as a bench that bear the name of the Beacon pioneer.
The former Mayor of Beacon, who carries the distinction of the longest running tenure of any female in New York State at the position, was at the epicenter of Beacon’s transformation from a bygone industrial era of slow decay to a present-day destination spot. Described as a leader, calm, dignified, diplomatic and someone who got things done, Gould was further detailed as never getting mad or speaking a negative word about another.
“She was the model mayor, who lived and breathed Beacon and knew the potential that existed there,” affirmed Molinaro. “She was able to reimagine and reemerge Beacon with that vision she had for it.”
And much of that vision was about the beautification of her home city. In addition to her political responsibilities as Mayor, Gould was also the President of the Historical Club as well as the Ticonderoga Garden Club. During her tenure she ensured the colorful, linear lineup of hanging plants that outline Main Street as well as provided complimentary trash receptacles to residents and played a large role in the one million dollar Open Space Project.
“She made Beacon bloom,” affirmed Denise VanBuren, who worked with Gould on the City Council from 1992-1993.
To commemorate that blossoming effect, guests at Thursday’s reception were each offered a rose, encouraged to also plant something and make it develop.
“The roses are a wonderful example of what Mayor Gould was all about,” said VanBuren, also a past president of the Beacon Historical Society. “She planted seeds here and gave them sunlight, flourishing the community as a result; she is a great example of what one person can do when they have a vision.”
It’s that strong foundation for growth and belief that the present day City of Beacon Mayor, Randy Casale, is extremely grateful for and is motivated to keep going.
“Boy, did you make this city better, turning it completely around into a now destination spot,” said Casale. “Since you, we have only gone up, and you have been a mentor for me.”
Another political dignitary on hand was State Assemblyman, Jonathan Jacobson, who knew Gould for a brief time; however, her effect on him, like so many others, has been profound.
“Too often we don’t do things like this for people who have made a difference; it’s so nice to see that we are,” said Jacobson, who smiling added, “I’m also so happy that I never had to run against you.”
Gould, looking on from her wheelchair smiled wide at the comment. Despite all of the accolades that came her way throughout the event, she remains the same humble, pleasant, calm and grateful person she has always been.
“It really takes a team to make things happen,” said a soft spoken Gould, who blew out a special birthday cupcake candle during the event. “It is such a pleasure to see everyone I worked with as well as so many other people come out here today and be a part of this day.”