New Haven’s most prestigious honor, the Bill and Todd Fritcha Memorial Award, was presented to Bob and Sue Byrd on March 9 by Mayor Steve McMichael at his State of the City address. The Byrds are the first couple to receive the award since its inception in 2012.
In his presentation, McMichael stated that New Haven is full of great people who give their time, treasure and talent to the community without seeking recognition. “This year’s winner, a couple, leads with a servant’s heart and has dedicated their lives to God, family and community,” he said.
Fire Chief Josh Hale, who nominated the Byrds for the award, wrote that “the civic engagement exhibited by both is enormous! They’re always present at anything New Haven. If it’s an event happening to promote the community, expect their presence. If it’s a fundraiser for this community, expect their presence. If it’s a high school football game, they’re present. Serving the community is clearly a way of life for them.”
“I figured Bob might be the recipient,” said Sue, “because I was asked to make sure our daughters would be able to attend the State of the City address last Monday. But I was completely taken by surprise when Mayor McMichael announced the award was for both of us.”
Both Bob and Sue are New Haven natives and New Haven High School graduates as are their parents and their daughters, Jamie and Jessica. Sue pointed out that their grandchildren will also be going to their alma mater. “We’re New Haven through and through,” she added.
Bob retired from Verizon after 30 years and worked for another telecommunication firm, Integration Partners, for 17. Along the way he served as a firefighter for 10 years, was a member of the Board of Works and was a city councilman. He also coached his daughter’s Daisy League softball teams. Sue has worked at the Chamber of Commerce for the past 15 years as a service member representative. They are longtime members of the New Haven United Methodist Church.
“Over the years we’ve seen the good people of New Haven step up do great things for this community that nobody ever knew about,” said Bob said. “I once saw Bill Fritcha pull his truck into the Fire Department driveway, put down the blade and clear the snow off the pavement. He wasn’t asked. He just did it. He was a great role model. We just want to help people and give back to our community.”