Manchester Board of Education President Donald Webster recently was honored by officials in Kentucky for providing budgetary help to the National School Boards Association — its president is also a Kentucky resident.
To thank him for his work the national president recommended Colonelship for Webster, who serves as the Vice President for Finance for the New Jersey School Boards Association
A perk of being a Colonel, Webster is entitled to priority seating at the Kentucky Derby.
"It was a bit of a surprise. It was nice," Webster said of the honor.
Below is the letter sent to Webster by Kentucky Gov. Steven L. Beshear.
The highest honor awarded by the Commonwealth of Kentucky is that of the Kentucky Colonel. Our Colonels are Kentucky's ambassadors of good will and fellowship around the world.
It all began when Kentucky's first governor, Isaac Shelby, named his son-in-law, Charles S. Todd, the "colonel" of his staff. Shelby later issued commissions to all who enlisted in his regiment in the War of 1812. Subsequent Kentucky governors commissioned colonels to act as their protective guard; the colonels wore uniforms and were present at most official functions.
The official "Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels" was founded in 1932 by then-Governor Ruby Laffoon, and has since been incorporated as a charitable organization. Through the years, Kentucky Colonels have contributed thousands of dollars to worthy causes. Kentucky's governor and lieutenant governor serve as the commander-in-chief and deputy commander-in-chief, respectively. All officers serve without pay or compensation.
Kentucky colonelships are commissioned for an individual's contribution to his or her community, state or nation, and for special achievements. With your commission as a Kentucky Colonel, the Governor recognizes your service and accomplishments on behalf of others. A list of Kentucky Colonels is a "Who's Who" of outstanding men and women around the world. The certificate, signed by the Governor and Secretary of State and bearing the Great Seal of Kentucky, has hung on the walls of such distinguished leaders as President Lyndon B. Johnson and English Prime Minister Winston Chruchill. John Glenn, America's first person in space, was commissioned during his historic mission while orbiting Earth.
Other well-known Colonels include: Harland "Colonel" Sanders, Muhammad Ali, Betty White, George Clooney, Ashley Judd, Johnny Depp, Kenny Perry and Elvis Presley.