SALEM — Russell Ingram has seen and done a lot of things in his 88 years.
But seeing a bronze plaque engraved with an image of himself and his late wife of 60 years, Roberta “Bobbi” Ingram, was almost overwhelming for the World War II veteran and former bank president.
The plaque was part of a stone monument and memorial garden dedicated in the couple’s honor yesterday at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Salem. A crowd of approximately 70 recognized the Ingrams for their contributions to the club and the community.
“It’s something I never, never thought would happen,” he said. “I wish Bobbi was here to see this monument.”
Ingram, a former state legislator and longtime Boys & Girls Club board member, and his wife dedicated their lives to making their hometown a better place.
In 2002, they donated $500,000 to build the Ingram Senior Center on Sally Sweet Way and gave thousands of dollars to the club up until Bobbi’s death in April 2010 at age 82.
But Ingram, who has called his late wife the driving force that inspired him to help others, didn’t stop giving.
In the last year alone, he donated $140,000 to the club, helping to pay off its mortgage and install a more efficient heating system. Over 10 years, the couple donated $250,000 to the club.
There was a collective “ahhh” from the crowd as club president Patrick Donovan and club members Ryan Haidaichuk and Dante Stigliano, both 10, lifted a black cloth to unveil the new monument.
“He gives not just of himself, but he gives his time and energy,” Donovan told the crowd. “He is one of the many rocks this club is built upon.”
State Senate President Chuck Morse, R-Salem, read a Senate resolution in honor of the couple. Morse, owner of Freshwater Farms in Atkinson, donated the large stone for the monument.