CLAYTON — Local restaurateur, sports coach and grassroots fundraiser organizer Elizabeth “Buffy” Golden has been named 2019 Clayton Citizen of the Year.
Mrs. Golden, who owns O’Briens Restaurant and Bar, is known for her years of hosting benefits and motorcycle rides to raise money for local organizations and people suffering from cancer, serious injuries and other ailments, said Tricia L. Bannister, executive director of the 1000 Islands-Clayton Chamber of Commerce. Every year, Mrs. Golden, vice president of the chamber’s board of directors for four years, helps host the chamber’s Holiday Shopper Poker Run, a shopping fundraiser that supports local food pantries, and offers “a hug spread” at her restaurant during the event, Ms. Bannister said.
“Buffy is deserving of it because of everything she does for the community,” Ms. Bannister said.
When Mrs. Bannister notified Mrs. Golden Sept. 10, she would not accept it until after 10 minutes of convincing, Mrs. Bannister said. Mrs. Golden, Cape Vincent, said Friday she felt others deserved the honor, and holds fundraisers and does volunteer work “because I want to.” Rather than accepting credit, she said she owed the recognition to faithful customers of her restaurant, her workers, friends and family and community.
“That’s who I give it to: the community,” she said.
Mrs. Golden was born in 1963 in Watertown, raised in Clayton and graduated from Thousand Islands High School in 1981, according to the chamber. She purchased O’Briens in 2003.
She was an active athlete in high school, playing softball, soccer and ice hockey. She participated in college hockey, national hockey tournaments in a Senior A Women’s Ice Hockey team in Buffalo, continues to play and has assisted with coaching girl’s hockey for the Clayton Minor Hockey Association. She has also taught swim lessons for the Cape Vincent Youth commission for about 30 years.
Mrs. Golden enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard and served in a reserve unit in Buffalo, according to the chamber. She earned a degree in physical education from Canisius College.
She and her husband, Cape Vincent Mayor Jerry Golden, have one son, Jeremy Golden.
Mrs. Golden will be honored at the Clayton Celebrates! event Thursday at the 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel. Cocktail hour begins at 5:30 p.m. Anyone interested in attending must call the chamber at 315-686-3771.