FALMOUTH — Arthur Frederiksen, 82, was named Falmouth’s 2009 Citizen of the Year at the town’s annual municipal dinner.
The Falmouth High School graduate and World War II U.S. Army veteran said Tuesday he was “amazed” at the honor.
“I’m kind of embarrassed a little bit, because there are a lot more people who do more than I do,” Frederiksen said.
But Frederiksen has devoted much of his life to helping others, from his 1,000-plus volunteer hours at the Maine Medical Center Radiology Lab to his work on behalf of the new police station and renovated fire station.
But the bulk of his time, and the cause perhaps most important to him, has been spent revamping American Legion Post No. 164 on Depot Road.
Never one to shy away from change, Frederiksen said he saw, when he returned to Falmouth in the mid-1990s, that the Legion’s relationship and service to the town had declined, with no community service and no meetings. He decided then that things would have to change.
“The place looks so bad all you need are a bunch of chickens,” he said he told the group. “At the time, I didn’t know two of them were chicken farmers.”
He made a list of 32 things that needed to be improved or upgraded and just last year, he finished the changes with the addition of a handicapped ramp.
“I never looked at it as work, but as breaking down the barriers,” he said.
His work earned him Maine Legionnaire of the Year award in 2003.
Now, with new kitchens, a paved parking lot and general cleanliness of the place, Frederiksen said groups constantly want to use the building for meetings, dinners and even weddings.
“It’s no longer a good old boys club,” he said.
Although he also remembers a time before Route 1 and Interstate 295, when he could stand at the Legion Hall and look straight across fields to Route 88, Frederiksen also encouraged the addition of bus service to Falmouth. He said the town is “no longer rural” and the bus is “a necessity.”
Frederiksen is passionate about his community and thankful for what the area has done for him.
“I can’t find anything better in this town than the people and the place,” he said. “I’m thankful I live in a community that has such beauty in it.”
A member of the Falmouth Lions Club and a former member of the Falmouth Historical Society, Frederiksen also coordinates the Memorial Day distribution of 1,100 flags at three cemeteries, organizes the annual Sept. 11 ceremony and serves the schools by his coordination of the annual flag retirement ceremony and participation at many athletic events.
“It’s been a great trip – that’s the way I look at life in general,” he said. “I’m trying to give something back in appreciation of what was done for me.”
Peggy Roberts can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or firstname.lastname@example.org.