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This Month's Krier
Lions Club Citizen of the Year –Suzanne Davenport
By Clark Judge
NASA Rover Challenge
After 41 years of living in Killingworth and serving as a community leader, environmentalist and visionary, Sue Davenport is getting something back from the town. She has been named the Lions' Club's 2018 Citizen of the Year.

The third female to be honored in the last four years and the 14th since the award was initiated in 1971-72, Davenport is among the most deserving of the Club's 46 recipients. In fact, when you consider her litany of accomplishments, it's a wonder she wasn't named before.

Sue was vice-president of the Killingworth Nursery School and president of the Killingworth Creative Arts Council. She helped form the town's Open Space Committee, was its first chairperson and served on the committee for 13 years. She has been a long-time member of the Lower River Valley Horseman's Club, serving as secretary, clearing riding and hiking trails and organizing trail rides.

Sue was a director of the Killingworth Land Conservation Trust for over 15 years, where she served as president for six. More importantly, she was instrumental in the purchases of the town's cranberry bog as well as Welter Woods, a 57-acre parcel of land that created a continuous 450-acre greenway in the heart of Killingworth. She was a founding member of the Killingworth Foundation, where she held the positions of co-president, vice-president and secretary. And she was a member of the town's Planning and Zoning Commission for eight years.

She is an artist with an M.A. of Fine Arts from Wesleyan University. She was a real-estate agent, worked for the family business, Davenport Associates which distributes piping for heating and plumbing. And she was an accomplished and passionate horseback rider. In short, Sue Davenport did it all.

"There was probably stuff that happened in Killingworth because of her that I doubt anyone knows was her doing" said her son, Dan Davenport. "My Mom donated an incredible amount of time in every which way possible. But she really, truly loves the town."

And the town loves her back. People who know her describe her as kind, tenacious, positive, energetic and selfless – someone they looked to for guidance and looked for when they needed help. They put her in positions of authority where she could facilitate change, and she responded – with persons close to her saying she was most proud of the work she accomplished on the Land Trust committee.

Davenport was honored at the annual Lions' Club senior dinner on March 10th but the town's attention doesn't stop there. In fact, her son recalled two events where his mother was a recipient of the help and support she so often offered – only this time it was the town of Killingworth that was giving it. "It's pretty funny," Davenport said, "but when my Mom did have an incident in her house where she set off the fire alarm … I've never seen so many fire trucks get there so fast. Then, there was an incident where a caregiver couldn't get her car off the street when it was being plowed, and it was going to get towed. But the resident state trooper wouldn't allow the tow truck to move the car. Instead, he moved the car himself … up to my Mom's house. So, if I could ever say, 'Thank you,' back to all of these people that I know that she's touched whom I don't know .. that have been there when I needed them to be … I would. Because that's pretty awesome. That says it all."

But it doesn't. Not really. Because for all the hard work … for all the leadership … and generosity … and financial support … and time that Sue Davenport lent Killingworth, there was something more that she sought. And it didn't come from the community. It came from the family.

"The real honest truth," said Dan Davenport, "is that what she wants more than anything is to be the world's greatest grandmother. That's truly what she strove for. All this other stuff is an outpouring of a lot of talent that she was given. She's such an amazing person. But if you really wanted to know what her deal was going to be, it was to be an active part of her grandchildren's lives. That's all she ever said that she really looked forward to."

With four grandchildren, aged nine to five, Davenport is doing just that … and no surprise. As a child, Dan Davenport said, "my mother always put my brother and me first – even with all the stuff that she was involved in. So, when I look back at my childhood, it's one amazing thing after another."

The same can be said of the town of Killingworth when it looks back at what Sue Davenport did for it in the four decades she's been here. "Suzanne Davenport has filled an astonishing number of roles in Killingworth," said first selectwoman Cathy Iino. "Her passionate interest in the environment, the arts, horsemanship and community service brought her to leadership positions in many of the organizations that make our town such a special place." They also brought her to a significant and richly deserved award, with Davenport's legacy at long last recognized by the town she serves and loves. "It's amazing they're recognizing her," said Dan Davenport. "She gave a ton back, and she has touched an awful lot of people in Killingworth. She had an opportunity to get a lot done in a certain amount of time, and she packed it in. If there is a heaven, someday when her time comes, she had better be in it."