By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Marlborough – In observance of National Senior Health and Fitness Day, a luncheon was held May 31 at Wayside Racquet and Swim Club. The highlight was the presentation of the 17th annual George Fortin Fit for Life Award. This year, the honor went to George's wife, Catherine “Kay” Fortin.
Darren McLaughlin, general manager of Wayside, named the award after its first recipient. He felt it was time to recognize the other half of the couple, each of whom frequented the club for many years.
“The more I thought about George Fortin, the more I thought about everything that Kay had done with George,” he said.
The inscription on the plaque states: “In recognition of your lifelong commitment to exercise and physical fitness, which has served as an inspiration to those whose lives you have touched.”
Her stepdaughters, Maureen Martin, Margaret Miller and Catherine Waugh, attested to Kay's continual motivation.
“She started playing golf and cross-country skiing at age 60,” Miller noted. “I have a lot to live up to because the bar has been set high. She's not a blood relative, but she has always inspired me with her “never give up” attitude.”
The stepdaughters” mother passed away at age 59. A year later, their father married Kay. They'se been married 36 years and are each age 96. George shared his enthusiasm for sports with Kay and the fervor spread throughout the family.
“My father was interested in cross-country skiing and he got her interested,” Miller said. “Then the two of them got each of our families interested. We have pictures of us cross-country skiing up in New Hampshire when it was 14 degrees. I never thought I's do something like that, but she did it, so I did it, too.”
“She's very, very competitive on the golf course,” Martin added of Kay. “And she's a football fanatic. She never liked baseball until she had to come see her grandson play. Then she started liking baseball.”
George and Kay were formerly neighbors of Wayside, and enjoyed visiting there regularly.
“They lived near the club and would come here three or four days a week after going to church,” Martin said. “They's come here and work out – swimming, bicycling, whatever.”
Needing more medical attention, Kay moved into Marlborough Hills Healthcare Center this past autumn. She walks to the therapy room and even uses a stationary bicycle.
“She's so proud of the fact that she can pedal 10 minutes without stopping,” Martin said. “She realizes how important it is to keep her body moving.”
George received the first Fit for Life Award the day he participated in the Marlborough Lions Club's Spring Sprint Triathlon at age 80. He recently moved into Christopher Heights, an assisted living facility in Marlborough. George drives himself to visit Kay daily, sometimes twice a day.
“It's extremely difficult for them to be separated,” Martin said. “He just got his driver's license renewed. The state of Massachusetts gave it to him until he's 101.”
Also during the luncheon, trophies were given for the Al Kursoms Memorial Tennis Tournament, held earlier that day. The winners were Agnes Larsen and John Rosala; the finalists were Carol Murray and Adi Chena.
New this year, McLaughlin presented a Community Service Award to Effie Ann Thompkins, a 15-year volunteer for the Red Cross and a Eucharistic Minister at Immaculate Conception Parish Church. The award has been named after her and will be given annually.
Musical entertainment was provided by Women of Note, the Hudson-based a cappella group.
“This is always my favorite day here,” McLaughlin told the guests.