Gyneth Elaine Hogaboom Ko-Talmadge wiped a tear from her eye Wednesday after she was presented the New York State Liberty Medal, which is the highest civilian honor a person can receive from a member of the state Senate.
After taking in the moment, Ko-Talmadge thanked all of her friends at the Century Club of Amsterdam, where the ceremony was held, for all the great work they have done in the community. “You all deserve this medal,” she said.
State Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk, D-Duanesburg, said she nominated Ko-Talmadge for the award because she represented what the medal represented. “It’s for ordinary people who do extraordinary things,” Tkaczyk said.
Ko-Talmadge was born in Vermont but had lived on Locust Avenue in Amsterdam for 35 years. She now lives in Fort Johnson but continues to play an active role in her local community, just as she has for decades.
Ko-Talmadge has been a member of the Century Club, Amsterdam’s branch of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, since 1979, twice serving as president and even as the GFWC delegate to the United Nations. Her other honors include being inducted into the United Way Hall of Fame and GFWC New York Clubwomen of the Year. She was the owner and administrator of the Montessori School of Amsterdam from 1994 to 2009.
“She’s my mentor,” Kim Rogers, the current president of the Century Club said. “She’s someone I could look up to.” Rogers, who will be the Adirondack district director in September, added that without Ko-Talmadge encouraging her, she never would’ve tried for the job.
Maureen Luci, who had been president from 2004-2008, also sees Ko-Talmadge as someone who helped guide her during her first term in office, when she was relatively new to the organization and learning on the job.
“She was someone I could call, day and night,” said Luci. “She was there for me.”
“She does so much,” said Evelyn Kruger, who joined the club the same time as Ko-Talmadge. “She’s very busy, very enthusiastic, very caring.”
The Century Club is 80 years old. Like many places in Amsterdam, it looks its age. But workers outside have begun to paint along the walls, as they balance on giant ladders. Inside the building, the carpets are cleaned, the pictures of the club’s founders are arranged up on the wall like paintings in a museum, and the sofas and chairs are without a single thread out of place. About a dozen members and friends showed up for Wednesday’s ceremony, greeting one another with quick smiles and laughs.
Ko-Talmadge is presently a member of the Baptist Health Systems Board and Foundation as well as the Children’s Aid Association.
“I love it,” she said when asked about why she has chosen, throughout her life, to do so many different things. “It’s about the friendships. You meet so many wonderful people.”