UPDATED at 3:10 p.m.
Jerry Selissen, longtime president of the Friends of the Tewksbury Patriotic Activities Committee, has announced that he is resigning from the board of directors of the organization.
In an E-mail sent to Tewksbury Patch, Selissen thanked residents and the businesses of the community for the support they have given the group over the years. But he said it was time for new leadership.
"Yesterday (July 4), was my last effort as a member of the Friends of the Tewksbury PAC Inc. I have enjoyed immensely my time helping with all of our fundraisers and events we have run during that time period ... It is time for young, enthusiastic and new blood to take over," he wrote.
Selissen served as president of the FOTPAC from 1986-1994 and again from 2007-2012. He is also a former member of the Tewksbury Board of Selectmen.
The FOTPAC had been the fundraising arm of the now-defunct Patriotic Activities Committee. The group is the driving financial force behind the July 4th celebration and fireworks display, the Memorial Day Parade and the Veterans Day Services.
Last year, the town took over the oversight of those events but members of the FOTPAC still volunteer their time to help run them.
"Jerry has been a tireless leader for the Friends of the Patriotic Activities Committee since it’s start over five years ago," said committee member Ron Hall. "He is one of the founding members and his leadership will surely be missed."
Over the past 12 months, Selissen said the fundraising efforts have become more difficult. Attendance at fundraising events such as the Big Bang Bash has been down and local companies have cut back on their sponsorships. Selissen placed the blame on the struggling economy.
He now says that for Tewksbury's community events to continue to thrive, it will take fresh leadership.
"We really need new blood and new ideas," he said.
Committee member Maureen Castiglione said she believes Selissen's contributions to the committee and the community will be difficult, if not impossible, to replace.
"As the public face of the committee, Jerry got a lot of grief and fielded all the complaints, and that's a tough position to be in," said Castiglione. "Everyone on the committee knows Jerry put his heart and soul into this endeavor. Honestly, I'm not sure it's going to be able to go on without him, because he was really one of the driving forces on the committee."
Selectwoman Anne-Marie Stronach said it would be a great loss to the community of the FOTPAC became dormant.
"I am grateful for all the efforts by Jerry Selissen and the entire FOTPAC. Their work in the community has been a wonderful asset and enjoyed by many," said Stronach. "With regards to Jerry's resignation, it will leave the FOTPAC with a void in leadership. I am hopeful that another volunteer will step up to keep the efforts alive. It would be a tremendous loss if they became non-existent."