NORTH SALEM, N.Y. – North Salem’s John F. Caralyus, often known to his friends and neighbors as “The Mayor of Purdys,” has been selected as one of the five Special Recognition Honorees for the 2012 Westchester County Senior Citizens Hall of Fame.
When Caralyus moved to Purdys in 1971, one of his first acts was to enlist in the North Salem Volunteer Ambulance Corps. Later he served on the North Salem Zoning Board of Appeals and spent two years as chairman.
About 20 years ago Caralyus started as a volunteer at the Westchester Exceptional Children’s School, a role he continues to this day. Among other things, he oversees the annual Easter egg hunt and coordinates with town officials and outside organizations on behalf of the school.
Janice Helwinkel of the North Salem Lions Club describes him as “an angel of the club.” He maintains the club property in between fundraising projects.
“I cannot remember a year when John has not quietly shown up with bags of groceries, frozen turkeys and toys for the North Salem League’s holiday season collection,” said the league's Karen Roach. “He asks if we need anything, and he means ‘anything,’ and always manages to produce it.”
In 2002 the North Salem Chamber of Commerce presented Caralyus with a plaque for his “selfless dedication” to the town. Other awards include the 1995 Lions Club Man of the Year, a plaque for “dedication and commitment” from the Westchester Children’s Cancer Research Center, and the Elbert Caldwell Purdy Award for “continuous community service.”
In between all of these activities and services, Caralyus assists the Puppies Behind Bars program, by helping to socially transition puppies once they have been trained in prisons, preparing them to go on to their jobs as veterans’ service dogs and law enforcement canines.
Ironically, the very busy Caralyus was unable to attend the Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Monday because he is recuperating from a broken leg at the Burke Rehabilitation Hospital in White Plains.
North Salem Supervisor Warren Lucas accepted the award on Caralyus’ behalf and drove to White Plains to pass it on. He found Caralyus working out on the parallel bars, preparing himself to get back to business.