Frank Kowalski Sr. Receives the 2011 Outstanding Citizen of the Year Award

Citizen of the Year Frank Kowalski and his wife, Pat.

Frank Kowalski Sr. received the Outstanding Citizen of the Year Award at the 2011 Chelsea Chamber of Commerce Installation and Officers’ Reception Friday night at Montvale Plaza in Stoneham.

Master of Ceremonies Allan I. Alpert paid tribute to Kowalski, owner of Val’s Flowers, in the award presentation ceremony.

“Frank has not only served the Chelsea Chamber of Commerce as its president but 64 years ago his dad, the late Val Kowalski, also a past president of the Chamber and a graduate of Chelsea High School, started Val’s Flowers, a family owned business that has just closed its doors after 64 years in business and Frank is calling it a retirement,” said Alpert.

Kowalski is a 1959 graduate of Chelsea High School. He has served for more than two decades on the voter registration committee.

“We’re making this presentation to Frank on behalf of the entire Kowalski family,” said Alpert. “Frank’s dad was past president of the Chelsea Chamber of Commerce and a past president of the Kiwanis Club. His mom and his sister are both members of the Zonta Club. Frank is a member of the Chelsea Rotary Club.

“This is a family that has given to the city for over 64 years,” said Alpert. “Frank gave so much of his time that it took away from his family. It gives me a great deal of pleasure to call upon this year’s recipient, Frank Kowalski.”

The crowd gave Kowalski a standing ovation as he approached the podium to accept his award and a citation authored by State Rep. Eugene O’Flaherty. He was also the recipient of a Chelsea Clock.

Alpert then invited Mr. Kowalski’s wife Pat Kowalski to the podium for a photo, saying, “Behind every successful man, there’s a great woman, so we want to have Pat up here as well.”

Mr. Kowalski said he was humbled to receive the award. He illuminated on his family’s flower business and its long association with the Chelsea Chamber of Commerce.

“My dad started the business back in 1947,” he said. “For many years, I was a young fellow in my dad’s flower shop in the middle of Bellingham Square. The Chamber of Commerce was located in the third floor of the building we were in overlooking the square.”

After three decades on Broadway, Val’s Flowers moved to Chelsea Commons (formerly the Parkway Plaza Shopping Center) where it served its customers for 35 years. Kowalski became president of the Chamber of Commerce in 1990.

“Throughout the years I’m been very privileged and very happy to become a part of all these things (civic minded endeavors and assisting other local organizaions) that the Chelsea Chamber of Commerce is now known for,” said Kowalski. “I’m deeply grateful for this wonderful clock and this honor.”

Mr. Kowalski concluded his speech by introducing his family included his wife, Pat; his daughter Stacey and her husband, Chelsea Fire Captain Michael Gurska; his son, Frank Jr. and his wife, Sue; his daughter, Lauren and her husband, John; and his daughter, Lynn (whose husband was unable to attend the event).

Kathy Finklestein presented the Brighter Holiday Awards to Dorothy Robinson and family for having the Best Decorated House; and the Caso family, owner of Dunkin’ Donuts for having the Best Decorated Business.

Susan Gallant, past president of the Chamber, presented a Brighter Holidays Special Recognition Award to the managers of Stop and Shop for their volunteer efforts toward the success of the annual Breakfast with Santa in December.

Joe McNamee, president of the Chamber of Commerce, presented the President’s Award to Carol Churchill of Distrigas GDF Suez, in recognition of the company’s outstanding service to the community.

The evening concluded with a comedic presentation by humorist Jimmy Tingle, whose distinguished career included a stint as a commentator on the CBS-TV “60 Minutes II” program.

Chelsea City Manager Jay Ash congratulated Mr. Kowalski in his remarks.

“I have a special place in my heart for the Kowalskis and Val’s Flowers and to Frank, I want to congratulate you for everything you’ve done for our city,” said Ash. “You have certainly set an example for all of us to admire and emulate and we thank you for the dedication that you have had to our community. And although the doors are closed, we look forward to many more great years of celebrating Chelsea with the Kowalskis.”

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