By Janice Llanes Fabry
Two Rye residents were inducted into the Westchester County Senior Citizens Hall of Fame on December 1. Gene Collins and Lester Millman were among those celebrated for outstanding accomplishments and selflessness at the 35th annual awards luncheon held at the Westchester Marriot Hotel in Tarrytown.
“I am so honored,” said Collins. “The oldest recipient was a 97-year-old woman who has worked with poor families all her life. To be considered in the same group is really humbling.”
“It’s strange,” noted Millman. “I am not very good at this, but it seemed like the right thing to do and it was fun going with my daughter Sarah and 8-month-old granddaughter.”
Both recipients have served their communities with devotion and distinction. Millman, who grew up in Rye, represented 150,000 people as president of the Westchester Jewish Council between 1998 and 2002. Collins served as The Rye Arts Center’s treasurer for 14 years during what he calls a “challenging time.” He implemented financial structures to ensure the center’s solvency and then set up a finance committee to see them through.
In addition, both have had illustrious careers. Collins ran mortgage-backed trading desks on Wall Street and was as a portfolio manager for Citigroup before that. Although he retired in 2005, he was back on duty the following year. Having earned both his undergraduate degree and Masters in Economics at the University of Toledo while serving in the Navy Reserve, he was invited to join the investment committee of his alma mater’s foundation. In addition, he established a portfolio management course in the John Neff Trading Room in the university’s Finance Department.
Millman is an award-winning photojournalist who has worked for many international news organizations, including The New York Times, Time, and Newsweek. He has covered the strife in Israel and the Middle East, but it was his coverage of Ground Zero’s first responders and devastation that changed his life.
“I found I had to give something back,” said Millman, who covered 9/11 comprehensively as Governor George Pataki’s personal photographer.
Both Millman and Collins have upheld a strong presence in Rye. Collins serves as treasurer of the American Legion as well as SPRYE, and remains a staunch supporter of The Rye Arts Center. Paintings acquired through the Center’s Painters on Location program adorn his walls.
In addition to continuing his work as a photographer, Millman is an emergency medical technician and a volunteer firefighter with the Rye Fire Department. His Ground Zero photographs are on display at the New York State Museum in Albany.
Gene Collins and Lester Millman