By Bonnie Adams, Managing Editor
Westborough – During his life, Howard K. (Pete) Fay Jr. served his hometown and country with a quiet humble dignity, never seeking the spotlight. Throughout his 90 years, he only left Westborough once, at age 19, for an extended period – to serve in the U.S. Army for two years during World War II. Twice wounded while serving with the 34th Infantry Division, Fay received numerous medals and accolades for his bravery, including the Combat Infantry Badge, Bronze Star (Meritorious Service), Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, with four battle stars, among others.
On Feb. 4, Fay, who passed away April 12, 2015, received one last honor when he was named the first recipient of the Westborough’s Veteran of the Year Award. Fellow veterans and local and state officials gathered for a ceremony at the Westborough Town Hall to present a plaque to his family.
Kenneth Ferrera, secretary of Westborough’s Veterans’ Advisory Board, as well as the town’s veterans’ service agent, served as master of ceremonies for the event. The award, he noted, was created to honor Westborough veterans who make extraordinary contributions to the town and foster the well-being of their ex-military neighbors. Fay exemplified that criterion, he said.
Ferrera noted that on Memorial Day 1996 Fay was presented the War Office Medal by Secretary of the Army Togo D. West Jr. at the White House and was invited by President Bill Clinton to attend a veteran’s breakfast both on Memorial Day and Veterans Day 1996 also at the White House.
Fay served the town of Westborough in many capacities including call firefighter, Board of Fire Engineers, Planning Board, Conservation Committee, delegate to central Mass., Regional Planning Commission, Municipal Sites and Facilities Committee, Trustees of Soldiers’ Memorial, and Veterans Advisory Committee, among others. He was a member of the Stowell-Parker Post 163, American Legion, and Westborough Memorial Post 9013, VFW.
Robert Brown, who served with Fay on many town boards and commissions, noted that his friend “got so many things done in a quiet way.” And for over 60 years, Fay attended Town Meeting, a responsibility he took seriously.
“He was a very special man, a man I considered a friend and I miss him dearly,” Brown said. “It was an honor to know him. He was an honor to this country and to this town. God bless him.”
Selectman Denny Drewry noted that he and Fay had much in common, including receiving the Purple Heart medal, which is awarded to those who have suffered wounds received in combat.
Although Fay was not a tall man, once you got to know him, Drewry said, “he was 6’6” tall. He was a dear friend and a great man. It was my honor to know him.”
Ferrera presented a plaque, donated by Crown Trophy of Northborough, to Fay’s brother Carroll F. Fay and sister, Frances Poulson, on behalf of the advisory board that read in part, “In recognition of your military service to your country and your life-long commitment to support and assist veterans and veteran issues. Your unquestioned integrity and character and your contributions to the Westborough community that were above and beyond the call of duty.”
The town’s three state representatives, Carolyn Dykema, D-Holliston, Hannah Kane, R-Shrewsbury, and Danielle Gregoire, D-Marlborough, also presented the family with a proclamation from the state legislature.