151 Lagoon Pond Road, Vineyard Haven MA 02568 - 508.627.4441
Martha's Vineyard Museum MV Museum
Medal Winners, 2013

2014 MV Medal Winners and Presenters (from left to right):
Jennifer Smith Turner, Richard Paradise, Renee Balter, Skip Finley, Dana Bangs (on behalf of Dorothy Bangs), and Denys Wortman.

Introduced by Skip Finley

Folks how are you? I'm delighted to be here. I'm glad you all came. I prepared some remarks. It's funny when you meet people and work with them for a long time, I can remember the day I fell in love with Renee Balter. It was April 8, 2003. I happened to be at the annual National Association of Broadcasters convention when Renee called me to tearfully tell me the Cottage City Historic District article had passed unanimously on the first vote. This was despite the Byzantine politics of Oak Bluffs, the Island's second smallest town. Back then we were the only town without such regulation Edgartown, Tisbury, and West Tisbury having passed bylaws years before. I joined Renee's committee hoping for that result and she clearly exhibited the leadership needed to accomplish that and she served as our new commission's first chairman where she was a member for more than a decade.

Renee's efforts in 1990 led to the establishment of the Oak Bluffs Association in 1991. The association today is a voluntary group of over 130 businesses and community members dedicated to promoting the natural beauty and historical charm of Oak Bluffs with the goal of helping the town, its citizens and businesses, thrive.

A founding member of the Martha's Vineyard Center for the Visual Arts, Renee also deserves credit for her unflagging support of the Oak Bluffs Arts District. I see Holly Alamo here, her buddy, who has certainly helped with that. Especially since she's an artist whose works captures the spirit and importance of the Victorian architecture of Oak Bluffs.

She and her husband Bruce own the historic Titticot Follies cottage on Narragansett Avenue around the corner from where I grew up on Pequot. Titticot Follies, built in 1870, is one of 300 homes listed on the 1978 Massachusetts Historical Commission and was once owned by Charles Strahan the owner of the Cottage City Star and the man that gifted Oak Bluffs with the statue of the confederate solider across from Trinity Church.

Martha's Vineyard Museum's Martha's Vineyard Medal honors leaders in the community who have had an outstanding commitment to preserving the history, arts, and culture of the Island. Renee exemplifies that commitment. Just to be sure, I looked up the word commitment in my handy Webster's dictionary, and there's this picture of Renee Balter. The choice was easy. Renee thank you so much, and congratulations. Come on up.

I don't know what to say. I just don't know. I'll probably get very emotional. I always wanted to be here. I came here in 1954 as a waitress at the Menemsha Inn, and then I spent thirty years trying to figure out how I could live here and be part of the community. And in 1981 my husband and I moved here or we bought Titticut Follies, and then we moved here in 1987, and then becoming part of the Oak Bluffs Association and the Historical Commission and getting the Historic District, and just being part of a really wonderful community, Oak Bluffs is really special.

And I remember when I was first here, I was in the post office, which I loved to do by the way every single day. It's just such a great experience, part of the whole ambiance of the Island. But there were two men talking. And one said to the other, you know I can't figure it out. All these people that love the Vineyard, they can't wait to get here, and then as soon as they get here, they want to make it like where they came from.

And I stood there and I thought, oh my God I hope they never say that about me. Because one of the things that I love so much about the Vineyard every year that I used to come on vacation, the first thing I'd do is I'd make a check of everything I loved about the Vineyard because I hoped that it was still here. Landmarks, the beaches, events, you know everything that happened here. And I guess that's why I wanted to get involved with the Historic Preservation and why I think it's so important. And then as I developed my career as an artist that's what I wanted to paint. And I love the buildings downtown in Oak Bluffs. I guess I just don't get out of Oak Bluffs too often. I really devote most of my time to being there and enjoying it. And I thank you so much for this wonderful, wonderful honor. I'm just really, I'm so thrilled to receive it. And thank you very much for coming.

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