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William Pynchon Medal recipients announced

Date: 10/5/2009

By G. Michael Dobbs, Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD All three 2009 recipients of the William Pynchon Medal share two characteristics: a dedication to public service and an admission that receiving the award humbles them.

The Advertising Club of Western Massachusetts made the announcement Thursday morning that Gary L. Fialky, esquire, chairman, Bacon & Wilson Corporate Department; Susan Jaye-Kaplan, co-founder, Link to Libraries, founder, Go FIT Inc., and founder, Pioneer Valley Women's Running Club; and Marie Stebbins, community advocate and former teacher, were selected as this year's winners.

Since 1916, the club has been selecting individuals for their public service who have been nominated by members of the public.

The loss of Fialky's mother to cancer spurred him to devote much of his life to raising money for cancer research. He founded and co-chaired the American Cancer Society's Evening of Hope Gala, formerly the Omar T. Pace Gala, which he noted has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars toward the effort to find a cure.

He also brought the Cancer Relay for Life event to Western Massachusetts.

He is now a cancer patient himself.

"I have a battle ahead of me of which I'm sure to be the victor," he said.

He has also worked on behalf of the Basketball Hall of Fame and is a member of its board of trustees.

A Springfield native, Fialky said, "It's no secret that I love my community."

Friends and colleagues describe Jaye-Kaplan as "a tiny little volcano who gets it done." She founded the Pioneer Valley Women's Running Club (PVWRC) in 2000, Go FIT to help encourage physical fitness among under-served youth and women in urban and rural areas in 2005 and co-founded Link to Libraries in 2008, an organization that collects and distributes books to public elementary schools and non-profit organizations in Western Massachusetts.

Jaye-Kaplan acknowledged her husband Steve's contributions to her efforts.

"He is the heart and soul of everything I do," she said.

Stebbins is the widow of Pynchon Medal recipient Richard Stebbins. Together the couple helped create the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts. After his death, she continued working on behalf of the community.

A former teacher, she helped found the Martin Luther King Jr. Charter School of Excellence in 2006. Her fundraising expertise has also aided The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts.

"Marie acts as a guiding light," Dianne Doherty, regional director, Massachusetts Small Business Development Center, who nominated her, wrote.

Stebbins said she and her husband "never talked about [their charitable activities]. Being involved with the community was just something we did."

She noted that her two sons are following in their parents' tradition in their hometowns.

The three recipients will be honored at an awards dinner and ceremony for the 95th Annual William Pynchon Awards on Nov. 19 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Chez Joseph in Agawam. Rich Tettemer, news anchor and reporter, 22News, will serve as emcee. More information is available at For ticket information, call the club administrator at 736-2582.