On the first Monday of every NABC, the Aileen Osofsky Goodwill Committee meets to celebrate progress in promoting friendliness at the bridge table and to recognize ACBL members who contribute to the effort.
At each NABC, it is customary for director of the host district to select a member of the district to recognize for significant contributions to the game, particularly in the area of goodwill. At this tournament, District 9 Director Jay Whipple made the choice.
He selected Maggy Simony, who made a name for herself late in life by publishing book about social bridge, with a strong emphasis on the fun aspect of the game.
Unfortunately, the 96-year-old author and blogger died of heart problems 10 days before she was to receive the honor. It was presented to her daughter, Maria Agid; her granddaughter Caroline Agid and Simony’s regular bridge partner, Sylvia Zembower.
Simony’s daughter said her mother had been informed that she was to receive the honor at the Fall NABC but was not told what it was.
“She was very curious about it,” Agid said, “and she was really trying hard to make it to the tournament. She played bridge for two hours the week before she died.”
Said Zembower, “Maggy loved people and social bridge. She tried to get others to start social clubs.”
Whipple praised Simony for all she did.
“We lost her at age 96,” he said, “but we still want to celebrate her.”
Al Levy, who wrote an article for the ACBL Bridge Bulletin about meeting Simony in 2014, quoted her as saying, “Science is telling us these days that for a dementia-free old age, it’s better to have played bridge badly than never to have played at all. That’s because learning to play bridge – badly or expertly – is one of the best life skills you can acquire to reach 90, dementia-free, enjoying life.”
He also read quotes about her from several bridge luminaries, including Audrey Grant and English star Andrew Robson.
A special guest at the meeting was Eddie Wold, ACBL’s latest Honorary Member of the Year. It is one of ACBL’s highest honors, presented to a member who has made significant contributions to the game over a long period.
“He has given,” said DeMartino, “without thought of reward.”
Also honored at the meeting was Eldon Clayman, 2017 Goodwill Member of the Year. The formal presentation of the honor will take place at the Spring NABC in Kansas City MO next year.
Clayman, of Valdese NC, is a transplant from Michigan who has been working for bridge in a variety of capacities for more than a quarter century.
He has served as Mid-Atlantic Bridge Conference president and vice president and as president and treasurer of Unit 244.
Goodwill Chair Sandy DeMartino said the nomination form for Clayman noted that “he always put people first, is a tireless worker and is constantly looking for ways to improve the players’ bridge experience.”
Also recognized at the meeting were new members of the committee, notably ACBL staff members: TDs Nancy Boyd, Tom Marsh and Brian Russell, plus Meeting Planner Wendy
Sullivan and Carol Robertson, manager of ACBL’s Club and Member Services.
ACBL President Ken Monzingo addressed the group and thanked the committee members for what they do to promote a friendly atmosphere at bridge tournaments.
“You are the ACBL,” he said. “You are our face. What the players see in your face hopefully is what they will see of us as a whole.”
Monzingo said that, except for the births of his children, being ACBL President this year “has been the highlight of my life.”
DeMartino thanked Canadians Richard and Janice Anderson for their contributions to bridge and the ACBL, and she did the same for Dan Morse, who has represented District 16 on the ACBL board for decades. He is leaving the board at the end of the year.
DeMartino concluded the meeting by recalling the quote from Osofsky about spreading goodwill: “It is nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.”