Judge Morris N. Gould
The first Tribute Road Race was five-and-a-half miles long, rather than the five miles it is today. Today, the race benefits student scholarships; at the beginning, the race benefited the Clinton Development Corporation for investment in community projects.
Each of the 108 runners in 1979 donated $2 to take part in the event.
But, just like today, a community person was honored before the runners hit the road.
Judge Morris N. Gould, of Clinton, who was active in local affairs until stricken by illness, was the first honoree. His son, attorney H. Mitchell Gould, said Clinton should be proud of its civic spirit as shown in the community-wide cooperation, which made the road race such a success.
To mark the second annual Clinton Tribute Road Race, John J. Gibbons, retired principal of Clinton High School, was honored.
Selectmen decided to designate a living Clinton citizen to be honored before the race.
Gibbons served as high school principal for 18 years, retiring in 1978. He was also a former English teacher, guidance director and assistant principal at the high school.
He was selected "in recognition of his many years of assistance to Clinton's young people," said Alan Jewett, chairman of the selectmen.
Dr. Lawrence Burke
Dr. Lawrence Burke was the man of the hour, when the Tribute Road Race began on May 9, 1981. He managed to get the race going with a smile.
"I considered running, but then I decided not to," Burke told the runners. "Maybe if they put a horse under me."
The Clinton selectmen chose Burke for the honor, and suggested the Tribute, then in its third year, could honor a different community leader each year.
Burke was chosen for his work, not only in the field of medicine, but also for his distinguished and outstanding community service.
In 1982, the Clinton selectmen chose Eleanor Philbin and William "Bingo" McMahon for the annual Tribute Road Race honor.
Philbin was the chapter chairman of Mass. Citizens for Life in Clinton.
Former Clinton High football coach McMahon piloted the Clinton High Gaels to their 1940s championship.
Mr. and Mrs. Harold Mills
Mr. and Mrs. ManuelJacobson
There were four honorees when the Tribute Road Race stepped off in 1983. Mr. and Mrs. Harold Mills and Mr. and Mrs. Manny Jacobson were honored for their outstanding service and involvement in the senior citizen lunch program.
The Board of Selectmen chose to honor two citizens at the 5.2 mile Tribute: Albert McNamara and Catherine Philbin.
"They have both provided community service over the past 20 to 25 years," said Chairman Alan Jewett in making the announcement in 1984.
Philbin, who was 74 in 1984, was past president of the Clinton Women's Club and was one of three members on the council.
McNamara, who was 77 in 1984, served as president of the Alcohol Information Center, was a deputy sheriff and the retired chief dog officer of Worcester County. He was retired from the Fort Devens Fire Department and was always involved in the "humanitarian aspect of helping people," according to his son, Owen.
Mary T. Gibbons
Francis X. Boyce
Three people shared the spotlight for the 1985 Tribute Road Race.
Mary T. Gibbons, chief probation officer of Northern Worcester County, and Francis X. Boyce, veterans' agent for Clinton and several surrounding towns, were honored.
In addition, John Murphy, the former Clinton High and University of Massachusetts basketball standout, who died in October 1984, was honored posthumously.
Murphy's parents were taken aback by the plaque presentation. The Murphys knew about the dedication, but were unaware of the plaque ceremony.
"I was overwhelmed," Helen Murphy said. "It was beautiful. Everything they've done has been wonderful."
Although he wasn't able to be in town for the actual award ceremony, retired Police Chief Martin O'Toole was roundly praised as he was named the 1986 Tribute honoree.
"If everyone here today runs as hard as former Chief O'Toole worked, then I am sure that you all will be winners," said then Chairman of the Board of Selectmen John Bates, who accepted the award on O'Toole's behalf.
O'Toole was police chief from 1981 to 1986.
The year 1987 was a turning point for the Tribute Road Race. It was the year The Item (then the Daily Item) took over coordinating the event.
The ninth annual Tribute honored Mitchell Gould, the founder of the race. He was the driving force behind the race's first eight years. The Chamber of Commerce funded a plaque in Gould's honor. His mother, Dorothy, was scheduled to pick up the plaque in his memory.
Proceeds from the 5.2 mile race were donated to a performing arts scholarship...