Health and Community Services
June 30, 2014

Celebrating the Contributions of Outstanding Individuals

Recipients of Seniors of Distinction Awards Announced

The newest recipients of the 2014 Seniors of Distinction Awards were announced today. The annual awards are presented to individuals in recognition of the remarkable contributions, achievements and diversity they have offered to their communities and regions.

“The Seniors of Distinction Awards are an opportunity to show our appreciation to older adults who are truly making a difference in their communities. Whether it is sharing their expertise, volunteering tirelessly to improve the lives of others, or spending time with those who need a helping hand, the recipients of these awards are to be commended for their hard work and generosity. On behalf of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, I extend a sincere thank you and congratulations to this year’s award recipients.”
- The Honourable Paul Davis, Minister of Health and Community Services and Minister Responsible for Aging and Seniors

This year’s recipients of the Seniors of Distinction Awards are Margaret Buckle of L’Anse au Loup, Rupert Lawrence of St. Lawrence, Robert Rogers of Glovertown, Virginia Tapper of Torbay, and Dr. Edgar Williams of St. John’s. The awards ceremony and reception will take place on Wednesday, October 1, to coincide with the International Day of Older Persons and National Seniors Day. For more information on this year’s recipients, see the backgrounder below.

“I am extremely pleased to see this year’s recipients of the Seniors of Distinction Awards receive this well-deserved acknowledgement of their individual contributions. Older persons in our province play an integral role in improving the lives of others, and each award recipient has had a positive impact on his or her community, family and society at large."
- Leo C. Bonnell, Chairperson, Provincial Advisory Council on Aging and Seniors

The awards program began six years ago as an initiative of the Provincial Healthy Aging Policy Framework. The framework aims to recognize older persons, celebrate diversity, support communities, encourage health and financial well-being, and support employment, education and research.


  • The 2014 Seniors of Distinction Awards recipients were announced today. They are: Margaret Buckle of L’Anse au Loup, Rupert Lawrence of St. Lawrence, Robert Rogers of Glovertown, Virginia Tapper of Torbay, and Dr. Edgar Williams of St. John’s.
  • The Seniors of Distinction Awards Program supports a priority direction of the Provincial Healthy Aging Policy Framework.
  • Eligible nominees for the award must be 50 years of age or older and be a current or past resident of Newfoundland and Labrador. Posthumous awards may also be given.
  • The award recipients were selected by a three-person committee comprising a previous Seniors of Distinction Awards recipient, a member of the Provincial Advisory Council on Aging and Seniors and a member of the Provincial Government’s Interdepartmental Working Group on Aging and Seniors.

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Media contact:

Heather MacLean
Director of Communications
Department of Health and Community Services
709-729-1377, 697-4137

Recipients of the 2014 Seniors of Distinction Awards

Margaret Buckle – L’Anse au Loup
Born in 1940, Ms. Buckle grew up in the community of L’Anse au Loup. She was a school teacher until she married and began raising her own family. Ms. Buckle was instrumental in organizing the first Early Childhood Development program in the L’Anse au Loup area.

Recognizing that children may not learn the same skills from their parents that she had learned from hers, Ms. Buckle endeavoured to offer children a chance to learn the life and survival skills that she had learned as a child. Ms. Buckle helped establish the first Women’s Institute Association in the region. Once again, she recognized how the skills learned from parents could generate income, and she encouraged women to produce and sell homemade products. Ms. Buckle was influential in the founding of the Labrador Straits Museum and Craft Shop established to preserve the local heritage.

Currently, Ms. Buckle is the President of her community’s 50+ Club and has served on many boards and organizations over the years, promoting the message of the importance of working together as a region.

Rupert Lawrence – St. Lawrence
Rupert Lawrence was born in 1933 and resides in St. Lawrence. Mr. Lawrence is a longtime volunteer with a number of organizations including the St. Lawrence Lions Club since 1963, and has held a number of positions in those 51 years and chaired many local, provincial and national projects.

Mr. Lawrence continues to play an integral role and has received the Lion Melvin Jones Fellowship Award and Lion of the Year Award. He has served with the St. Lawrence Library Board, Interdenominational School Committee, St. Lawrence Development Committee, Sea Cadet Corp, as an associate member of the Royal Canadian Legion, and as a volunteer with the US Memorial Hospital. Actively involved with the Anglican Church for 60 years, Mr. Lawrence has served with the Alter Guild, choir, and as a licensed lay minister.

Mr. Lawrence is a man who is committed to his family and community. Without a doubt, his legacy will be “love of the community.” Mr. Lawrence has been described as both a gentleman and a gentle man.

Robert Rogers – Glovertown
Robert Rogers was born in 1940 in St. John’s. After retiring from the federal public service, Mr. Rogers moved to Glovertown in 1999. His life of volunteerism began in the 1970s, and since that time, he has worked with more than 20 community and church organizations in an executive capacity.

Mr. Rogers is currently the President of the Newfoundland and Labrador 50+ Federation and has been in that position for the past four years. His other executive positions include the Terra Nova Regional Goodwill, Alexander Bay Lions Club, and Sacred Heart Church Committee, Culls Harbour.

The calibre of Mr. Rogers’ service is evident in some of his awards: the Reverend Whalen Award for Knight of the Year from State Council Knights of Columbus for Newfoundland and Labrador 1997-1998; Glovertown Citizen of the Year 2002-2003; Alexander Bay Lions, Lion of the Year 2003-2004; Crime Stoppers Volunteer of the Year 2006; and Judge Brian Stevenson Fellowship, Outstanding Canadian Lion 2012. The list of Mr. Rogers’ accomplishments is lengthy and his contributions invaluable.

Virginia Tapper – Torbay
Virginia (Gen) Tapper was born in Flatrock in 1919. Ms. Tapper’s grandfather, Edward Everson, was Norwegian-born and one of the first settlers in Flatrock.

Ms. Tapper was an adult education teacher as she and her sister taught handicrafts to people throughout the province. When Anna Templeton began classes in the 1970s, Ms. Tapper was one of her instructors in rug hooking and crocheting. Ms. Tapper and her husband raised nine children and have 37 grandchildren and 28 great-grandchildren.

As newlyweds, the Tappers saw that the school was in a state of disrepair and because coal was so expensive, teachers and students spent many days in the cold. The Tappers gathered their neighbours together, wood was delivered, coal purchased and the school was thoroughly cleaned; thus, Ms. Tapper’s life of volunteerism began. She is a founding member of the Torbay Women’s Institute, in which she is still active. She is involved with the 50+ Club; Holy Trinity Parish and Holy Trinity Parish Card Club.

If organizing, fundraising or table-serving is needed, Ms. Tapper is guaranteed to be there to help. She is the community historian and genealogist, the keeper of the stories. Ms. Tapper still rises early, completes her housework and prepares a hot lunch for her sons every weekday, but she is quick to note that she does not do dishes! There are simply not enough hours for this nearly-95-year-old to complete all she has planned for each day.

Dr. Edgar Williams – St. John’s
Born in 1944, Dr. Edgar Williams has spent a lifetime positively contributing to the collective culture of this province and country. Dr. Williams has written extensively on the need for increased numeracy in Canada and in Newfoundland and Labrador. He was instrumental in the development of basic education programming which developed into the present-day Adult Basic Education Program, a means by which adults can achieve high school equivalency.

Dr. Williams has contributed to the work of various professional organizations at the provincial, national and international levels, including the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers’ Association Mathematics Council of which he is a founding member; the Newfoundland and Labrador Science and Technology Advisory Council; the Atlantic Provinces Council on the Sciences; and executive director of the Canadian Mathematical Olympiad. Dr. Williams has been active in many community organizations including the Boy Scouts of Canada; the Canadian Red Cross Society; St. John’s Municipal Parks and Recreation Committee; Royal St. John’s Regatta; and he is a founding member of the Canadian Association of Retired Persons.

Dr. Williams has received numerous awards and recognition, including the Canadian Centennial Medal, Canada 125 Medal and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. Dr. Williams’ lifetime of dedicated service has been a catalyst for change in Newfoundland and Labrador.

2014 06 30                                                                  2:45 p.m.