November 25, 2013
The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Honors Trustee Forrest Mars Jr. with Churchill Bell
On Nov. 16, Colonial Williamsburg president Colin Campbell presented the institution’s highest honor, the Colonial Williamsburg Churchill Bell, to Forrest E. Mars, Jr., a trustee and major benefactor whose support and service of more than 25 years has expanded the scope of Colonial Williamsburg’s interpretive programming and literally altered the landscape of its Historic Area.
Colonial Williamsburg’s Trustees have bestowed the Churchill Bell just 11 times since its creation in 1992 to pay tribute to the institution’s most distinguished stewards, friends and citizens. Mars received the prestigious award from Campbell at a formal evening ceremony held in the Virginia Room of the Williamsburg Lodge.
The printed citation that accompanied presentation of the award noted that “…in his personal and professional life, Forrest Mars exemplifies the traits that have propelled the American character, culture and economy through time: freedom of thought, creative energy, discipline of purpose and commitment to democratic principles.”
As a result of Mars’ generosity and commitment to the importance of the lessons of American history, Colonial Williamsburg has completed two major restorations in the Revolutionary City, with a third to follow. The three projects allow Colonial Williamsburg to dramatically expand its interpretation of life in the years prior to and during the American Revolution.
R. Charlton’s Coffeehouse, which opened in November 2009, replicates a vibrant meeting place at the center of political and social activity. The James Anderson Armoury complex, dedicated hours before the Churchill Bell ceremony on Nov. 16, recreates an industrial site that helped forge the American Revolution. The Armoury complex includes a tin shop, workshop, storage buildings, kitchen and blacksmith shop, reflecting the hub of activities showcasing the complexity and urgency of mounting the American war effort against Great Britain, the world’s most powerful 18th-century nation.
The third project, scheduled for completion in 2015, is reconstruction of the 18th-century Market House, which will restore one of the central features of Market Square, bringing greater vitality and authenticity to Colonial Williamsburg’s interpretation of economic and social life in colonial America.
“Not since the Rev. W.A.R. Goodwin, rector of Bruton Parish Church, first shared with philanthropist John D. Rockefeller Jr., his plea for preservation, has Colonial Williamsburg seen such a builder as Forrest Mars,” said Campbell.
“Forrest built his remarkable career in global business on the very tenets of liberty that shaped and fueled the great American experiment in democracy,” added Campbell. “In so doing, he affirmed a great lesson of history – that freedom, fairness and opportunity offer the greatest hope for the realization of individual and collective potential.”
Mars is director emeritus of Mars, Incorporated and former chief executive officer of the company. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Yale University and a master’s degree in business administration from New York University. He is a life member of Colonial Williamsburg’s Raleigh Tavern Society and is included in the Courtyard of Philanthropy at the Regional Visitor Center. His gifts to Colonial Williamsburg in support of the three major reconstructions noted above total $11 million since 2007.
Sir Winston Churchill was presented what was then called the Williamsburg Award Dec. 7, 1955, by Winthrop Rockefeller – chairman of the Colonial Williamsburg board of trustees at the time – in a ceremony held in London’s historic Drapers’ Hall. The award recognized the former British prime minister for his leadership and commitment to liberty and freedom and was renamed in his honor. Colonial Williamsburg Chairman Thomas Farrell described Forrest Mars as “a man who fulfills Churchill’s ideals of duty... a man of resolution and dedication” who helps to sustain “the abiding importance of Colonial Williamsburg [and its] commitment to the future.”
Then as now, the bell was handcrafted by Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Trades in the shape of a town crier’s bell. The Churchill Bell has been presented 10 additional times, honoring recipients for dedication to the preservation of history and original American ideals and values, support of education and young people, and service to the public.
Previous recipients of the Colonial Williamsburg Churchill Bell are Abby M. O’Neill and the members of the Rockefeller family, 1992; George V. Grune, Chairman and CEO, and the employees of the Reader’s Digest Association, 1992; Ambassador and Mrs. Walter H. Annenberg, 1993; Joseph and June Hennage, 1994; William and Gretchen Kimball, 2000; Robert and Marion Wilson, 2002; Ann Lee Brown and the late Charles L. Brown, 2004; Jim Lehrer, 2011; Sandra Day O’Connor, 2011; and Gordon Wood, 2011.