BENNINGTON -- The Village of Old Bennington has decided to give back to its longest serving trustee, thanking him for forty years of service.
Arnold Ricks was honored on Sunday, with the dedication of a stone bench on the grass island across from the Old First Church. The inscription on the bench, which was purchased by several dozen VOB residents, reads, "With appreciation for 40 years of dedication and service as Trustee to the Village of Old Bennington. From your grateful neighbors and friends 2014."
The dedication was a complete surprise to Ricks. Peter Meekin, a village resident, with the help of his "co-conspirator" Pat Ricks, Arnold's wife, had convinced Ricks to meet him at the church on Sunday afternoon. When he saw the bench for the first time, all Ricks could do was shake his head and say, "Oh my goodness." The village residents also had a copy of the Banner's May profile of Ricks framed, and had all signed it.
"We're here to show our deep affection for you and all you've done for this community," said Meekin.
"This community really impels engagement," said Ricks, "and I think we all feel that in various ways."
Ricks, 90, taught history at Bennington College for 10 years before purchasing a house on Elm Street from a friend in 1972. A year later, he was asked to join the trustees. Knowing no better, he joked, he agreed. Finally, after serving in the position for 40 years, Ricks retired earlier this spring. During this time, he also served as the village's road foreman. In retirement, he will now focus on some family projects related to the history of the Quakers.
"The genius of the village," said Ricks, "is that it is and was the heart of this small community, and an indispensible part of the larger community."
Derek Carson can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @DerekCarsonBB