The Potomac Chamber of Commerce held its annual awards dinner Thursday, Nov. 16 at Normandie Farm Restaurant. It was a night to honor those who have made significant contributions to the community, and to honor one award recipient in particular whose service to the community will not soon be forgotten.
The most significant honor of the evening was one that is not given out every year. Elie Cain presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to Jean Cryor (R), the District 15 representative to Maryland’s House of Delegates. Cain noted during her presentation that the award had been given out only three times prior to Thursday night’s ceremonies. “We don’t give this out every year,” she said, “but this year it was something that had to be done.”
CRYOR HAS SERVED in her position for the last 12 years but appears likely to lose the seat to Craig Rice (D). Cryor trailed Rice by a significant margin in the initial vote tally following the Gubernatorial Elections on Nov. 7. That margin shrunk to only a 49-vote deficit after the initial count of absentee ballots, but a count of the provisional ballots concluded last week and increased Rice's margin to 152 votes, an advantage that will likely not be overcome when the overseas absentee ballots are counted and the final result is certified on Nov. 21.
“She has been an outstanding legislator over the last twelve years… she has given more than generously of her time and her energy and her talents,” said Cain. “This is a lifetime achievement award, but Jean has put more into making Maryland a better place than what can be done in just one lifetime.”
Cryor’s colleagues from the legislature echoed those sentiments, applauding her for her bipartisan efforts, her individuality and her commitment to her constituents. “I don’t think anyone else puts in as much time as Jean does,” said Kathleen Dumais (D-15). “Her integrity, her wit, her command of the issues that we deal with have all made it a pleasure to work with her.”
State Sen. Robert Garagiola (D-15) offered an anecdote about his time working with Cryor. Last year, a bill intended to help children in needy families had struggled to find passage through the Maryland House and Senate but had finally reached the final stages of completion, according to Garagiola. The bill was being debated on a Friday, with both houses set to go on leave early the following week so the success of the bill hinged on its timely passage that Friday evening. “One of the delegates in the house, I won’t say his name here, was holding up the bill and playing games and trying to get it amended or killed,” said Garagiola. Cryor, a Republican, picked up the phone and called Garagiola.
“I would have never known about it if she hadn’t called me,” Garagiola said. With that Garagiola called the delegate and persuaded him to pass the bill in its then-current form. “Jean did that because she was concerned, it didn’t have anything to do with who was in what party. That kind of dedication is rare.”
CRYOR ACCEPTED her award by telling the audience members, who were standing in ovation, “I appreciate this very much, but please sit down.” She then followed with remembrances and anecdotes of her time in the legislature.
“All I can say is that when I was first getting into politics I had lunch with someone who told me, ‘Think twice before you do it, because politics will break your heart.’ Well it’s not true — it makes your heart happier,” Cryor said. When someone comes into your office with a problem, imagine how happy it makes you feel to know that you know how to help them, that you have been around long enough to know how things work and that you know how to smooth the path ahead for them.”
One of the sources of Cryor’s inspiration was her father, she said, a successful doctor who turned his back on his practice to join the U.S. Army during World War II. “My mom was furious, they had kids and a new house, but you should have heard it in his voice. He just said ‘But Alice, I have to. They need doctors. I have to.’ When he came back … it was so important to him that he had brought life back to people. I won’t compare the two,” said Cryor, referring to her father’s military service and her own time serving in the state legislature, “but thank you for letting me have that moment. I have had a wonderful time and wonderful moments serving so many people. You all are in good hands now and things will go forward,” Cryor continued, “but no one will ever be as grateful as I am for what you let me do.
“Maybe when this is all over I’ll have time to think about it and be sad, but right now I’m just so happy and so grateful that I’ve had this opportunity these last twelve years.”
WHILE CRYOR’S award capped the evening’s ceremonies, three awards that the Potomac Chamber of Commerce led off the ceremonies, as the annual recipients of the Youth of the Year, the Citizen of the Year, and the Business Person of the year. Shaneke “Shani” Weerakoon, a Landon senior, received the Student of the Year Award. Weerakoon is the co-editor in chief of the Landon student newspaper, the Landon News, as well as the captain of the varsity squash and tennis teams. In addition to having an academic schedule loaded with AP classes, Weerakoon also tutors students from middle schools around the county looking to up their entrance scores for the test that could potentially win them acceptance into Landon. Weerakoon has applied to the University of Pennsylvania for early-decision acceptance and will hear back in December.
Carla W. Satinsky received the honor of the Citizen of the Year award for her extensive community service work. Over the years she has served on the boards of Rotary Club of North Bethesda, the League of Women Voters, the Parent Education Committee and the United Way, among many others, and she also initiated the television program “Montgomery County Week in Review,” which has run on Montgomery Community Television for 18 years and which produced its 800th show in July 2006. Cain noted, “she is someone that works so hard to make our community exceptional.”
Country Squire Dry Cleaners has been operating since Steven Krensky’s family opened it in 1957. Thursday night was honored for his long-time service to the community with the Business Person of the Year award. In addition to operating the Potomac mainstay business for many years, Krensky has offered his assistance in various community service projects over the years.