2012 MV Medal Winners (from left to right): Hugh Knipmeyer, Tony Horwitz, Geraldine Brooks, James and Deborah Athearn.
Introduced by Warren Hollinshead
Sheldon has talked to you about the exciting plans for the Marine Hospital and I think in many ways, the fundamentals of those plans go back to when Hugh Knipmeyer was on the Board of Directors and President of the Board from 2001-2004 of the Martha's Vineyard Museum but in those days we were the Martha's Vineyard Historical Society and he sort of took on that capacity and then he remained on the board for a career over fifteen years in length served to the Board and to this Island and from 2001-2004 he led the staff and the board through the brunt of the strategic plan and in my memory the first really professional strategic plan the Museum had ever had. He did it in a focused, disciplined kind of way. He was a man of few words, but what he said went to the heart. And he was patient with that board and I don't know if many of you have served on the boards of hospitals or non-profits but they're really not the most efficient decision making processes around and yet Knip went through with those members of the board and the staff and came out with a very fundamentally sound strategic plan, addressing issues that we still have today and that is enough exhibit space, proper storage space, parking, meeting rooms, etc., So I think we all owe him a thanks for doing that for us, doing that sort of back in the 2001, 2004 area. He then, after the plan was involved, he led us through a RFP process where we looked at proposals by I think almost 15 firms which consisted of exhibit designers, people that had financial expertise, because we connected with the strategic plan financial projections for the Museum looking into the future, and architects and we came up with designs, which in many ways are still being used as we move now to the Marine Hospital.
So that was the service, now what about the man himself. Well he grew up in upstate New York in a dairy farm and he told me one day that early on he decided he did not want to be a dairy farmer. I say early on, at 5am on a snowy, February morning and we can all understand why. So he went from upstate New York to MIT and if you look at the man over there to my left, to your right, in the red jacket, that's the MIT colors, not Harvard colors, those are MIT colors. There's a slightly different blend of the fabric in MIT graduates. He was an engineer after MIT, and I don't know about in your day but in my day engineers were not very connected with culture. I don't mean that in a mean kind of way but they usually had plastic kind of protection over their pockets, they had four or five ballpoint pens in their pocket, maybe a slide ruler sticking out of their pocket. They were not people that you thought would go on to lead a Museum dedicated to history and culture but that is exactly what he did after a long and successful career. He is, I think, the measure of a man that even during those months developing that strategic plan, spending hours with the board doing that, he would still serve hours as a volunteer. He would sit at the door of the Cooke House for three or four hours every week and do that job as well as leading the Board through a very important period of its history. He is a member of the Rotary Club, another element of service. I often went to him as a chair and looked to him for advice and we would sit in his book-lined study and he would offer coffee. What I got from my questions was wise advice and I very much appreciate that. The only thing we were ever different on was that we have different political identifications and he's a different political party than I. I think that we would both consider ourselves moderates and very often we agreed on solutions to political and economic financial problems and I think that, if the two of us were in Congress, we might find some progress there. We can agree on many things in the middle. And one thing I do not agree with him on however is his selection of a baseball team and he is unfortunately one of those fans of that team in New York who will remain nameless, I moved to the east coast when I was in college and quickly became a Boston Red Sox fan and it is hard for me to forgive him for that but otherwise a great man you can see 5 rows of his family here, he looked like the pied piper coming in here with all the children and grandchildren coming in behind him and we have benefited greatly not only at the Museum for his service but also for this community as a whole. So it is with great pleasure that I give the Martha's Vineyard Medal to Hugh Knipmeyer.
Thank you Warren. You don't know how much it means to me to be recognized by the Museum. The medal is about this big *holds up hands to show size* and I deserve about this much *holds up fingers in a little square inch* of it. The rest of it goes to the dozens and dozens of people here today who have given their time, their talents, and their treasure to provide and stand for the mission of the Museum and for that I am very greatful. Thank you very much.