By Bonnie Adams, Managing Editor
Westborough – Anyone who has worked with Denzil Drewry in his many capacities as a former longtime selectmen knew he was never afraid to share his opinions, always standing up for what he believed. To many of his fellow veterans, he is known as someone who they could always contact for help, with matters small or big. And to all, he is known as someone who has a huge heart, a quick (often self-deprecating) joke and a willingness to always offer support to those who need it most.
Those qualifications, especially his advocacy for veterans, were integral to the Westborough Veterans Advisory Board (WVAB) naming Drewry as this year’s Westborough Veteran of the Year. Drewry received the honor in front of a packed room at Town Hall May 5 with family, friends, and special guest Francisco Urena, the Mass. Sec. of Veterans Affairs in attendance.
Drewry enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1966, eventually serving as a Green Beret in the Vietnam War, where he earned a Purple Heart for wounds suffered during combat and a Bronze Star for valor. As a Green Beret he served three years active duty and eight in the Reserves, then becoming a staunch advocate for veterans’ rights on his return to civilian life. A six-term selectman, Drewry also worked on multiple Memorial committees that were responsible for the Vietnam Memorial and the War on Terrorism Memorial and helped Westborough become the second community in the state to achieve the designation of Purple Heart Town. He has also actively participated in the VFW and American Legion as well as helping numerous veterans with individual matters. He also served a stint as a liaison to veterans for then-Senator Scott Brown.
Speaking during the May 5 program, George Barrette, a former selectman himself, noted that he and Drewry had often found themselves at odds, “butting heads and disagreeing.”
But at the end of the day, Barrette said, “We always shook hands and were friends.”
“I respect him and love him so much, especially for the passion he brought regarding issues around veterans,” he added. “That passion has rubbed off in every other single thing he has done. He walks the walk every single day.”
Former Police Chief Alan Gordon noted with a chuckle that he often opened his email inbox to find a “risqué joke” from his friend.
“I had to remind him to use my personal email account!” Gordon said.
Turning serious, he said that he and his fellow officers “always appreciated every single thing [Drewry] had done for the town, department and veterans.”
Urena said that he has often run into Drewry as they attend many of the same events across the state honoring veterans.
“You have always been about others and lending a helping hand and especially to veterans,” he said to Drewry.
After Ken Ferrera, the WVAB secretary presented a plaque to Drewry, the guest of honor briefly addressed the audience. Visibly moved, he noted that it was “quite an honor – I am so proud to live here in Westborough.”
“But I’m not done yet. I’m going to keep going.”