A lifetime of service: Fort Johnson woman receives Senate Liberty Medal

June 05, 2014

Thursday, June 05, 2014


 Not just anyone can be nominated for New York State's Liberty Medal, Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk said Wednesday afternoon.

"The Liberty Medal is presented for exceptional valor and dedication on behalf of the people of upstate New York," said Tkaczyk, D-Duanesburg. "It's the highest honor to present to citizens."

That's why Gyneth Elaine Hogaboom Ko-Talmadge was honored with the prestigious award at the Century Club.

Tkaczyk nominated Ko-Talmadge, and the Senate approved the nomination in the form of a resolution.

The senator said Ko-Talmadge has "had an extraordinary life, including an extraordinary amount of community service," and that's why she was nominated.

"She's always looked out for how we improve our community, and I like to recognize people who are ordinary citizens who do extraordinary work," Tkaczyk said. "Part of my job is to recognize their value and the contributions they've made to our community."

The extra long list of work and activities Ko-Talmadge has accomplished over the years includes working at various elementary schools, serving as president of the GFWC Century Club twice, forming the GFWC Juniorette Club at the Century Club, running a Montessori, serving as the GFWC NGO to the United Nations over three different terms, serving as the GFWC Middle Atlantic Region President from 2010-12, and hosting 17 exchange student from around the world over the years.

Ko-Talmadge said she's tried to help everyone over the years, but her focus has mostly been on women.

"Leadership, female empowerment, those are my goals," she said. "We try to help women who have problems, or are in trouble, and sometimes it's very frustrating because I feel like I'm not doing enough. I do what I do because I love it. I'm a people person, and I want to help them."

She said the medal is a tremendous honor and she wasn't expecting it.

"I feel very honored and I'm very blessed," she said.

Kim Rogers, the current Century Club president, said she's very proud of Ko-Talmadge.

"When I was first notified of this award, the first person the senator thought of was [Ko-Talmadge] and the first person I thought of was [Ko-Talmadge], so I was so happy for her I nearly jumped out of my skin," Rogers said. "If it wasn't for her, the Century Club just wouldn't be the Century Club. She's been very mothering, very encouraging, she really does a lot for us, and whenever there is a bump in the road I call [Ko-Talmadge] and she smoothes it out or tells us what to do. She's just always so kind and always helps out."

Anne Haggerty, the incoming Century Club president, also said she was very proud Ko-Talmadge was recognized.

"If there's a more deserving lady, it's her," Haggerty said. "She's just a wealth of knowledge, and she's a calming influence."

GFWC Century Club members attended the ceremony and had cake and drinks with Ko-Talmadge after to celebrate.