The Board of Directors of the Newton-Needham Regional Chamber bestowed the R.L. Tennant Award -- the chamber’s highest honor – to the son of the man that the award was originally named after.
Walter F. Tennant -- the chamber’s long-time treasurer and proprietor of the R.L. Tennant Insurance Agency in West Newton -- was presented the award at the chamber’s annual Fall Business Breakfast.
Walter was the chamber’s treasurer for 28 years and played a critical role in rescuing the chamber from financial ruin in the early 1990s and then rebuilding the organization’s financial stability to become the fastest growing in the state. He has also chaired the chamber’s annual golf tournament since its inception some 20 years ago.
He was also a past president of the Newton YMCA, Newton Schools Foundation and Newton Kiwanis Club. He served as a director at the Second Step, John M. Barry Boys and Girls Club, and Knox Trail Council Boy Scouts of America among others. In addition, he served on the board of The Village Bank for the past 17 years.
“It is totally appropriate that Walter receive this, the chamber’s highest honor, which was named after his father who gave so much to the city and to the chamber for so many years,” said Kenneth Brennan, Chairman of the Board at the Village Bank, when presenting the 2018 award to his long-time friend and chamber colleague.
“For 28 years Walter watched the [chamber’s] checkbook as if it was his own. He was tough when he needed to be and the chamber is in excellent financial condition as a result of his efforts.”
Walter’s financial support of nonprofits across Newton were equally extensive, Brennan added.
“There isn’t a program book published anywhere that does not have the R.L. Tennant logo and/or Walter’s name attached, Brennan said. “He has never asked for a penny for an organization that he personally had not already contributed to.”
Walter retired from the chamber’s board of directors last year and sold his insurance business to Eastern Insurance, where he now serves as a consultant. He is a Needham resident.
Walter’s father, Robert L. Tennant was a Newton alderman for 24 years, served as the chamber’s president twice and also had a long prestigious history of philanthropic and community service in Newton; a path his sons, Robert Jr. and Walter followed.
“The Tennant family has meant so much to Newton, Needham and the chamber over nearly a half century,” said Chamber President Greg Reibman.“It’s terrific and appropriate that the chamber’s executive board has decided to bring this award full circle by honoring Walter for his many decades of extraordinary service.”
In 2017 the Tennant award was presented to outgoing Newton Mayor Setti Warren. Prior recipients includeMarshall Sloane of Century Bank, Dr. Michael Jellinek of Newton-Wellesley Hospital, Peter Smith of Green Newton and Brennan.