Frank Loehmann and the John G. Martin Foundation have given a lot to the town of Cheshire over the past decade. To date, the Foundation has given over $401,000 to Cheshire in donations, and Cheshire Parks and Recreation Department honored the group on Oct. 6 for their generosity to the community.
“It is only fitting that our first James Nankin Community Service award goes to Frank Loehmann and the John G. Martin Foundation,” said Parks and Recreation Commission Chairman Patrick Duffy. “We cannot think of anyone more deserving of this award than you … thank you so much for all you do.”
The Commission created the James Nankin Community Service award this year, after the passing of longtime Cheshire resident and former Parks and Recreation Commission Chair James A. Nankin in May. Nankin served as chair for over 20 years, and was a good friend of Loehmann’s.
“I remember meeting James over 20 years ago when the Martin Foundation gave our first donation to (Cheshire High School) to build their video production studio,” Loehmann recalled. “Over the years, we have given out $2,500 to Parks and Recreation for them to refurbish the (Bartlem) playground, we’ve helped support Mike Durkee and the Cheshire Police Department with the Special Olympics and … (tonight) we are giving $150,000 to Parks and Recreation for them to begin (working on) the John G. Martin Outdoor Education center over at Mixville.”
Loehmann accepted the community service award, given to him by Nankin’s wife, Kathy.
“When we moved here 52 years ago, Jim got involved immediately,” she began. “We first started with youth football, and it grew so much from there … It’s so important that we are able to give this out to (Frank Loehmann).”
The John G. Martin Foundation was established in 1958 in West Hartford to honor the former president of Heublein Inc. In addition to the Mixville building and the Bartlem playground, the Foundation has also paid for the renewal of multiple municipal signs and provided funds for the Cheshire Police Department to purchase its first drone.
“Cheshire is an amazing town,” explained Loehmann, holding back tears. “It’s an amazing place to raise a family and the people are second to none.”
After accepting the award, Loehmann presented Parks and Recreation Director John Gawlak with one of two $75,000 checks for the new Mixville building, with the promise of the second check in January of next year.
The new Mixville building will be attached to the backside of the Mixville main pavilion, and will be called the John G. Martin Outdoor Education Center. It will be used as a home base for summer camp activities, and allow for a variety of programming to be done indoors, which Mixville previously did not have the ability to do.