Former Southington Observer editor to receive humanitarian award

Former Observer editor and sports editor Jim Senich is this year’s recipient of the Betty Kroher Humanitarian Spirit Award. Senich was presented the award on Tuesday in a private ceremony. Above, Senich in the 1970s about the time that he joined the Observer staff as the paper’s first sports editor.

SOUTHINGTON—James J. Senich, the first sports editor and the longest-serving editor of The Observer, will receive the Betty Kroher Humanitarian Spirit Award in a ceremony next week.

The award committee said Senich, 78, will be recognized for “celebrating the human spirit” during his long career in journalism and radio broadcasting.

“Jim didn’t just cover or comment on games, he was a champion of young athletes and programs that brought out the best in people and developed a sense of community,” said Tom Chute, committee member and Senich’s former colleague at WATR-AM in Waterbury, in a press release. “Pride in his work and the dedication and joy that came with it has always been at the forefront. He has touched generations with his professionalism, empathy and generosity.”

Above, Senich served as emcee for the 1997 Southington High School Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony at the Aqua Turf.

Senich’s career in the media began more than 50 years ago as a newspaper sports reporter. He later entered the radio field, working through the years for stations in Bristol, Greenwich and Bridgeport, as well as WNTY-AM in Southington and WATR. He retired from a post with the State of Connecticut several years ago.

Senich was named the first sports editor of The Observer shortly after its debut in December 1975. Five years later he was promoted to editor, overseeing the editorial department during a nearly 8-years tenure, the longest in the paper’s 42-year history.

“It was always his mission to go above and beyond just the stories, scores and statistics,” said Eric Senich, one of Jim’s five children. “What was of utmost importance to him was to capture in print the human spirit that came from within the many great residents, athletes and coaches in Southington.”

Senich will be the fourth recipient of the award named for Kroher, the first and only executive director of the former Southington chapter of the American Red Cross. He is the first to be honored since Kroher died in November at the age of 88.

Following her death, the committee held off on bestowing the 2016 award, which will be the one presented to Senich.

“She would be thrilled to be honoring Jim,” said committee member Christopher Fortier. “When Betty was running the Red Cross and Jim was editor of The Observer, they were good friends and respected each other’s commitment to the community.”

Chute said Senich received the award on Tuesday in a private ceremony attended by family, friends and colleagues.

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