'Beaver' Bard is retiring after decades of coaching youth sports and serving on the Parks Commission.
ADAMS, Mass. — Willard "Beaver" Bard was given a standing ovation and a plaque on Sunday for his more than 50 years of serving the town and youth groups by the Maple Grove Civic Club.
Bard, 77, a longtime parks commissioner and coach for youth baseball and basketball, has been recognized in the past. He received a "Points of Light" Award in 2005 from then Gov. Mitt Romney for his volunteerism and the Little League Field on Lincoln Street was named after him.
The civic club, of which he is a member, also wished to recognize his volunteer efforts on his retirement from active coaching and the Parks Commission.
"Every so often there's an individual we come across who'll stand out like nobody else will," said Jeffrey Lefebvre, a club officer, to the 50-odd members of the club its monthly meeting at the PNA. "Somebody who give unselfishly of themselves, somebody who's always there, somebody who volunteers for everything."
Lefebvre, who also volunteers with the youth programs said there was one individual whom the children always talked about: Bard.
On hand to present the plaque, "in grateful appreciation for his 56 years of great service and volunteering in the youth services of the town of Adams," were Alfred W. Skrocki, superintendent of schools for the Adams-Cheshire Regional School District, Joseph Nowak and Michael "Jocko" Koperniak, all of whom had been coached by Bard.
"I couldn't have asked for a better mentor than Beaver," said Nowak, "and it's a privilege to be able to come up here and be in front of my good friend Bill. I lost my dad at a very young age and Beaver somewhat played the role of my dad, and for that I'm ever grateful."
Bard has coached three generations of local youth, always exhorting to be better and work together, said Skrocki, who added that Bard had not only made an impression on himself but on his boys as well.
Superintendent of Schools Alfred W. Skrocki was one of the hundreds of children Bard coached in baseball and basketball.
"He touched the lives of literally hundreds of people of this community," he said. "The impact you've had on these people of Adams and Cheshire has really transcended every family in this community."
Koperniak, whose father coached with Bard and whose sons also played for him, echoed Skrocki's comments, noting how many people Bard had affected over the years.
"Everybody loves Beaver," he said. "My son was asked who affected you in your life and he had to write something about it — and my son wrote a poem about Beaver Bard.
Bard wasn't expecting the honor and, despite calls for a speech, kept his remarks short:
"Thank you very, very much," he said to the applause. "I appreciate it."
Coach Bard died Monday, Jan. 20, 2014, at the age of 79.