Last Wednesday night, the Milne family received a standing ovation from the largest gathering for the annual raffle of Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce in its 33-year history. An hour later, Cathy Milne Frey and her husband Scott left the event with the $4,000 grand prize. Agnes Eller, sister of the late raffle founder Marion Milne and a Nevada resident, was runner-up.
“Appropriate”, “fantastic”, “fitting”, “sweet”, “nice” and “ironic” were among the adjectives shared liberally as the crowd filed out of the Canadian Club.
Several hinted at “Divine intervention.”
Marion Milne died late last summer. Among many life accomplishments, she had been the driving force behind the raffle each of the 32 years since she launched the first in 1983. No one could say with certainty that Milne had ever missed attending the dinner drawing.
Frey, son Scott, grandchildren and staff of Milne Travel attended Wednesday’s raffle. When they were recognized from the podium, the crowd erupted with applause and stood in appreciation for all that Marion had done for the Chamber and the state. Unfortunately, husband Don, although recovering nicely from a recent fall, was unable to attend.
In 1983, and Chamber board chair at the time, Marion “borrowed” the concept of the raffle from Don’s Elks Lodge and used it to organize a deficit-elimination event. Buoyed by its success, she suggested that if the Chamber made the raffle an annual event, the Chamber might someday “own a home of our own.” The raffle provided the down payment on the Chamber’s purchase of “Beaulieu Place” in 1990 and a significant portion of the funding for expansion in 2000.
Milne’s dedication and commitment over 32 years turned the dream into the reality of the Chamber’s office complex and business center.
Chamber directors Mike Donovan, Kim Bolduc, Michael Casella, Amy White and Joseph Choquette conducted the drawing with Donovan serving as master of ceremonies. Board Vice Chair Gary Hass welcomed the crowd, thanking both ticket holders and ticket sellers.
Consolation prize winners were Salvador & Babic, Sean Starr, John Marchelewicz, Deborah Phillips, Vermont Creamery, David Rubel, Canadian Club, Bill West, and Jet Service.