Celine Paquette named Woodmen Citizen of the Year

However, retirement didn't slow Paquette down, Sorrell noted. She has since been actively involved with coordinating North Country events for the Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Quadricentennial Commission, of which she serves as vice-chairperson. Paquette's focus has been on ensuring the state gives proper attention to the efforts of Frenchman Samuel de Champlain, who explored the region 400 years ago.

"[Paquette] makes no secret that the current love of her life is Samuel de Champlain and all things Champlain," said Sorrell. "As you can imagine, it has been a tremendous effort to convince her Manhattan and Albany counterparts that we deserve a fair share of New York's attention and funding."

Paquette has also established the Samuel de Champlain History Center on Elm Street in the village of Champlain, which has become known as "Quad Central," said Sorrell. Her tireless efforts for the quadricentennial's planning have also included arranging for acclaimed artist Samir Sammoun to create new oil paintings of Lake Champlain. Twenty-five paintings will be unveiled at SUNY Plattsburgh's Burke Gallery this summer and are something of which Paquette is most proud.

When Paquette accepted her award, she was visibly taken back by the recognition from the organization, her family, friends and colleagues.

"This is indeed a great honor," she said. "Getting a wonderful award like this makes you think of all the wonderful people who have made this possible."

Aside from giving words of thanks, Paquette took the opportunity to use her time at the podium to credit organizations like Woodmen of the World for their dedication to community service.

"Community service is very dear to my heart, as you can see," said Paquette. "Every opportunity I've had to address college commencements and groups of students I mention two things to them and one of them is community service ... Winston Churchill once said, 'We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.'"

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