Rotary honors Terry Chamberland: Firefighter, coach and tireless volunteer

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By Friday, Jun 9 Life In the Berkshires
Terry Cowgill
Susan Smith, immediate past president of the Great Barrington Rotary, congratulates Terry Chamberland on receiving the Rotary's Citizen of the Year Award. To his right is Ed McCormick. To his left is his wife, Robin.

Great Barrington — A Great Barrington Rotary Club lunch is generally a happy place to be but on Wednesday (June 7) it was a little happier than usual. That’s because the club was honoring one of the town’s most beloved and worthy residents, Terry Chamberland, as its citizen of the year.

The Crissey Farm banquet hall was full of admirers as Chamberland, a well-known firefighter and youth athletics coach, was lauded by his peers as a dedicated public servant and a pillar of the community.

Dozens of Rotarians turned out for the event. Photo: Terry Cowgill

Dozens of Rotarians turned out for the event. Photo: Terry Cowgill

“It is unusual to find people who will both organize and work on events,” said Great Barrington Selectman Steve Bannon, who also chairs the Berkshire Hills School Committee and has managed volunteers for many years. “Terry is certainly that type of person. He is at organizational meetings, planning meetings, he makes phone calls. He sends emails and, on the day of the event, he is there to work.”

Chamberland’s portfolio of volunteerism and community involvement is extensive. It includes, but is not limited to, 41 years with the Great Barrington Fire Department, with a current rank of deputy chief; eucharistic minister and usher at St. Peter’s Church; and coach and director in numerous girls’ softball and basketball leagues.

Former fire chief Harry Jennings read a statement from current Chief Charlie Burger lauding Chamberland’s years of service, dependability and willingness to constantly strive to be the best firefighter he can be.

Former Fire Chief Harry Jennings reads a statement from current Chief Charlie Burger. Photo: Terry Cowgill

Former Fire Chief Harry Jennings reads a statement from current Chief Charlie Burger. Photo: Terry Cowgill

“Terry does not seek the spotlight,” Burger said. “He is the guy behind the scenes who makes things happen but rarely gets the credit.”

Burger added that, considering the amount of time Chamberland devotes to the fire department in addition to holding down a full-time job in sales at S&A Supply, “I am amazed he is able to serve the community in other ways, such as running sports leagues, tournaments, and helping to organize the Relay For Life, to name a few.”

And for more than 30 years, Chamberland has been secretary and treasurer of the Egremont Country Club’s Tuesday Men’s Twi-Light Golf League.



Chamberland’s solid work ethic and tireless community service runs in the family. His late father Ray worked for decades at Mount Everett Regional School in Sheffield where he held a variety of important titles including principal, athletic director, teacher, basketball coach and football coach. Indeed, the Mount Everett gym is named after the elder Chamberland.

Susan Smith, immediate past president of the Great Barrington Rotary, presented a plaque to Chamberland, “in recognition of your dedication and valued contributions.” Rotary official and longtime Deputy Fire Chief Ed McCormick also spoke, as did John Lucey, one of Chamberland’s fellow coaches.

John Lucey, one of Chamberland's fellow coaches, sings his colleague's praises. Photo: Terry Cowgill

John Lucey, one of Chamberland’s fellow coaches, sings his colleague’s praises. Photo: Terry Cowgill

As an example of Chamberland’s hard work, Bannon cited the Golden Knights basketball tournament, which Chamberland “starts organizing in November and he works right through the days of the tournament in February. He recruits teams, arranges for scorekeepers, makes sure the gyms are reserved, he coordinates the referees and does much more.”

Chamberland is a graduate of Monument Mountain Regional High School and North Adams State College (now MCLA), having earned a B.S. in business administration.

“I’d like to thank the Rotary Club for this great honor,” Chamberland said. “I also want to thank my wife for all her understanding and support and after all these years in doing these things.”

Robin Chamberland bailed her husband out a number a times, he conceded. Chamberland described himself as a “computer illiterate” who “can screw up a computer in no time.”

“She’ll come in and show me how to do it — bang, bang, bang,” Chamberland said, to much laughter. “Well, didn’t I learn a lot?”

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