September 12, 2012

Hilltop Memorial to Michael Kenwood Provides Place for Community Reflection

To the Editor:

A little over a year ago, on August 28, 2011, the Princeton community lost a hero. During hurricane Irene, Princeton First Aid & Rescue Squad (PFARS) EMT and rescue technician Michael Kenwood was swept into floodwaters and drowned while attempting a swiftwater rescue. Michael died in service to his community, trying to help those in need.

PFARS marked the anniversary of Michael’s passing with a memorial service at Greenway Meadows Park off of Rosedale Road. We are grateful to the special guests who spoke at the service of Michael’s altruism and legacy, including Reverend Richard White, Princeton Township Deputy Mayor Liz Lempert, Mercer County Freeholder Andrew Koontz, United States Congressman Rush Holt, and New Jersey Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno.

The service concluded with the dedication of a bench in Michael’s memory. Situated on a hilltop that overlooks the location of Michael’s ultimate sacrifice, the location provides a serene place for reflection, not only for his family and fellow emergency services colleagues, but for the community as a whole. For indeed, the heroic actions of Michael and countless other emergency services personnel are what make our community a stronger, more ideal place to live. It is our hope that visitors to the park can reflect on Michael’s devotion to public service and consider how they can help make their community better.

I would like to thank the PFARS members that coordinated all aspects of the service, Shannon Koch, Director Frank Setnicky, Robert Gregory, Jay Padulchick, Matthew Stiff, and Shawn Gallagher, and the PFARS Ladies Auxiliary for the reception. In addition, we greatly appreciate the work of Acting Township Administrator Kathy Monzo and Ben Stentz and the field maintenance staff from the Princeton Township Recreation Department for helping obtain and prepare space in the park for the bench. Thank you also to the Princeton Township Police Department Color Guard members Lieutenant Robert Toole and Sergeant Michael Cifelli. Further, we would like to extend our deepest appreciation to Michael’s family who joined us to recognize their son, brother, husband, uncle, and cousin. We thank you for raising Michael with the character to be an excellent role model, a trusted friend, and a devoted public servant.

Finally, for those in the community that were unable to attend the memorial service but would like the opportunity to honor Michael, PFARS is presenting a Tribute Concert celebrating his life and legacy on Sunday September 23, 2012 at 7 p.m. Broadway Sings, a professional concert production company featuring stars of Broadway musicals and National Touring productions, is donating its talents to provide an evening of joyful music in tribute to Michael. The event, to be held at the Princeton High School Performing Arts Center, will also feature a silent auction; bidding begins at 6 p.m. Tickets for the one-night event are reserved seating and can be ordered online at Sponsorship opportunities are also available. For more information, visit the PFARS website, or email

Peter J. Simon

President, Princeton First Aid & Rescue Squad