Civil servants tend to make their mark on local towns and communities in huge ways, usually requesting little to no recognition for their dedication and devotion to the town they serve. Cheshire has had a long tradition of devoted civil servants who have been instrumental in shaping the town to what it is today.
One of Cheshire’s most dedicated civil servants and influential female leaders passed away in April due to complications following surgery at MidState Medical Center.
Selina McArdle, who was 81 years old when she died, was Connecticut’s very first municipal agent for the elderly and a long-time civil servant to the Town of Cheshire. She was beloved by many, and will be remembered for her dedication to Cheshire and its residents.
“She was just the most wonderful woman in the room,” remembered her husband of 61 years, Jim McArdle. “She loved this town and its people immensely, and I miss her very much.”
McArdle was a woman of many talents, civil service being just one of them. She was an accomplished pianist and artist and graduated from the Lebanon Valley College’s Conservatory of Music in Pennsylvania. She also owned and operated the Creative Craft Center, at 98 Elm St., for 15 years, selling art supplies and needlecraft materials.
McArdle might have been best known for her many years of service on the Cheshire Town Council, where she served a total of five consecutive terms over the course of 10 years, from 1975 to 1985.
McArdle, who was a proud Democrat and always passionate about civil service, wrote the Health and Social Services component of the Community Development Action Plan (CDAP), by which Cheshire’s current political and economic structures are heavily influenced. While creating the plan, she became acutely aware of the struggles facing the elderly community in Cheshire and wanted to make a difference.
“She saw the conditions that the elderly were living in and knew change needed to be made,” said McArdle. “She got a lot of pushback at the time, but she knew it was the right thing to do and that’s why she did it.”
According to her husband, McArdle was well known for her involvement in the Women's Liberation movement of the 1960s and 70s, and was even awarded the Charter Revision’s “Man of the Year” award for her service and hard work.
“She was, I think, the first woman to receive that award,” McArdle explained. “It just shows how dedicated and well respected she was that even at that time they wanted to recognize her for her efforts.”
McArdle was also the first woman to receive the Cheshire Jaycees Distinguished Service Award in 1973.
Her husband, who was also involved in civil service in the town, fondly recalls a time when he and his wife we’re both up for election, and he lost his seat.
“She polled 11 points higher than me. We we’re, at the time, the only two Democrats running and she made it and I didn’t,” he laughed. “She deserved it.”
Current Town Councilor David Borowy recalled what Selina was like to work with.
”I (was) elected in 1985 and that’s the year she left,” he remembered. “She was a wonderful woman and a fierce advocate for the elderly. She will certainly be missed.”
McArdle’s dedication to the elderly and social service never wavered throughout her tenure on the Council, helping establish the Cheshire Housing Authority, Cheshire Hospice, and aiding in the purchase of the Moore House on Maple Ave, which is now the Cheshire Senior Center.
When McArdle finally retired in 1985, the town hired three full-time employees in order to replace her and her volunteer efforts.
While she was a fervent civil servant, McArdle notes that he will miss her sense of humor and creativity the most.
“She loved music and was always smiling,” he said. “Her piano was her favorite thing in the house and she loved playing it.”
A contribution in Selina's memory may be made to The Cheshire Senior Center Membership Association, 240 Maple Ave., Cheshire, CT 06410. For online condolences, please visit www.dellavecchiafh.com