Memorial Day 2019
Farewell, ‘Mr. & Mrs. Avalon’:
Chuck & Lynn Covington are Leaving Big Shoes to Fill
By Dave Bontempo
Lynn and Chuck Covington with their great-grandchildren: Cooper Kile & Lola Dalius on Lynn’s lap; Everett Kile & Freddie Felter.
Avalon Borough Council, December 2018. From left, Dr. Nancy Hudanich, Chuck Covington, Barbara Juzaitis, Jim Deever and John McCorristin.
Two Avalon icons are moving on.
Chuck and Lynn Covington produced a mixture of sadness and gratitude with their announced intention to move near their children in Pennsylvania this summer. They will leave a colossal footprint, via the community of friends and their role in shaping one of the borough’s most prosperous periods over the last three-plus decades.
Avalon boasted property values estimated at $9 billion at the end of 2018 and has the potential to be debt-free in three to five years, according to borough officials.
It has been some ride. Chuck helped spark this efficiency as a Borough Council member since 1991. He will serve until the end of June. In the community realm, he has held key executive positions in the Helen L. Diller Vacation Home for Blind Children and the Avalon Lions Club, among other pursuits.
Lynn has beautified the borough via leadership of the Garden Club among other activities and joined Chuck in numerous philanthropic endeavors.
Chuck’s long service run produced a slew of administrative allies, including Mayor Martin Pagliughi. The mayor has long praised Covington and the council for their efficiency in numerous areas, especially obtaining federal aid for beach-replenishment projects.
Another longtime council ally, Dr. Nancy Hudanich, has a sentimental recollection of their shared tenure. Hudanich has worked side by side with Covington on major committees, including budget, finance and technology. She and Covington both have served as council president. Their backgrounds and love for numbers produced a unique synergy.
“Chuck is a former VP of technology at Unisys, and we just hit it off from Day 1,” says Hudanich, the superintendent of the Cape May County Technical School District. “When we presented our last budget to the council back in April and there were people in attendance, I got emotional. There is a hole in my heart today.
Alex Shaleway, Jeff Snyder, and Chuck Covington registering golfers for the Lions Club annual charity golf classic.
“Where do you start to talk about Chuck? He pays tremendous attention to detail and understands the corporate lens, just like he can understand the assets of a company, or in this case, the borough. Chuck understood that one of the major assets of our town is its beaches.
“He could always see the big picture about where we wanted to go. We took each facet of the town and what it represented.
Chuck always found a way to do it better and get a plan in place. He has seen that Avalon needed strong planning and zoning departments to help homeowners maintain property values.
“He has a keen eye on the ratables and the tax base. We could always agree to take whatever money was paid to Avalon and make sure it was used efficiently and effectively.”
Joan Hunter, Elsie Kuhn, Lynn Covington and Mittie Pearson enjoying coffee while celebrating APAC’s 25th anniversary in 2007.
Hudanich authors her own significant service tenure, starting in 1989. According to borough statements, her financial leadership has given Avalon one of the lowest tax rates in New Jersey, and status as the only coastal community in New Jersey to earn a AAA bond rating from Standard & Poor’s.
Hudanich enjoyed sharing views with Covington on pay-as-you-go policies, handling new projects in phases, building up the library, and presenting homeowners a true measure of their water and sewer costs by extracting the cost of the infrastructure from the total number.
This enables homeowners to assess fixed costs into their thinking and realize how much water they were paying for.
“I want to thank Chuck for moving to Avalon because if he didn’t, I would not have shared this wonderful journey with him,” she says. “I would thank him secondly for taking interest in this town, enough to run for office. It has been a pleasure and an honor to work side by side with him, especially in the finance committee.
“I can’t even visualize doing a budget without him.”
While Hudanich and Covington worked on significant issues, they also enjoyed the lighter side. One anecdote involves Lynn’s work with the Garden Club. She presided over a nonprofit corporation designed for charitable and educational purposes. Its accomplishments include plantings on Dune Drive median islands and in Avalon’s parks and gardens.
“She was president of the Garden Club, and they have a Lynn Covington Award in her honor,” Hudanich says. “She made her mark by her work with the Garden Club. Lynn has been dedicated to the beautification of this town. You always would see her involved in doing special projects, whether that was something on Mother’s Day weekend or at different times of the year.
“We teased Chuck pretty good about that. We said, ‘We’d better not charge a fee for the permit with the Garden Club. God, Chuck, if we did, how could you ever go home?’ ”
Residents aren’t the only people who will miss Covington’s contributions. Doug Heun, who serves as president of the Challenged Children’s Charities and vice president of Helen L. Diller Vacation Home for Blind Children, considers him an administrative giant. Covington is Heun’s vice president for the charities and a board member for the Diller Vacation Home.
Avalon Lions Chuck Covington, Mike Sowers and John Molnar present a donation to Helen L. Diller Vacation
Home for Blind Children board members Doug Heun and Joe Ostrowski.
“This is going to be a huge loss,” says Heun, who has worked for the Diller cause for about 40 years, many of them with Covington. “Chuck is one of the finest board members I have ever worked with. He does the work of two or three people. It is amazing what he gets done. When Chuck says he will do something, it is done.”
Heun lauds the meticulous precision Covington applied to grant applications. It is a tedious, technical and difficult process, critical to obtaining grants of several thousand dollars. Some call it a prescription for myopia.
“A number of grants we have gotten have come mostly from his doing,” Heun says. “That’s because when he submits those applications, he’s dotted those i’s and crossed the t’s. Chuck has worked with so many organizations to obtain these grants for us, and it’s difficult. I think the reason we have gotten so many is that he can lay the groundwork and go way, way above the call of duty.”
Heun notes that Covington hit the big one a couple of years back, securing a record grant of $34,885 from the William G. and Helen C. Hoffman Foundation for the Diller Vacation Home. Covington called it a home run. These are valued funds for the heartwarming establishment that provides blind and visually impaired children an all-expense-paid week at the shore each summer. The home is two blocks from the ocean.
The Lions Club has been another source of Covington’s community outreach. The establishment donated approximately $120,000 to needy recipients last year and lifts the community with several endeavors, especially during the holidays. Recent presidents Marianne Snyder and Mike Sowers recall his founding efforts and leadership.
Lynn and Chuck Covington pose with Sarah and Bill Burns at the Helen L Diller Vacation Home for Blind Children cocktail party.
“Chuck has for many years been an asset to not only the Lions Club but the entire Avalon community,” Snyder says. “He has helped to organize so many things. Chuck has been a mentor to many people, he has brought in numerous new members and has touched every part of our organization. Chuck is easy to talk to, he knows a lot of people, and he’s a good motivator. He helps keep people involved. Chuck has helped with so many of the charities we help in Cape May County.”
Sowers speaks glowingly of Covington being a past president of the Avalon Lions and a Melvin Jones Fellowship recipient, given for donations of $1,000 or more to the Lions Club International Foundation.
“We invited family and friends to his final meeting, which we called Chuck Covington Night, and although Chuck knew about it in advance, we had some other surprises for him,” Sowers adds. “Chuck is an iconic presence in Avalon. He is a natural-born leader. He instills confidence in the membership because of his vast knowledge, not just of Lionism, as I would say, but of procedure in general and of how to conduct himself. He is pretty confident in what he says, and that’s what gives you confidence, because he knows what he is talking about. Chuck was one of the founding members of the Lions Club in 2002. We call him ‘The Oracle.’ If you have the question, he probably has the answer.”
Lynn has a collection of close ties, too. Maureen Corrigan, a longtime friend who was with Lynn in the Garden Club, can relate to the Covingtons’ departure. Last year, Maureen and her husband Jay moved from Avalon to Naples, Fla.
“It’s a tough thing, leaving Avalon, but this is what happens at a certain time of life,” she says. “Chuck and Lynn really are like Mr. and Mrs. Avalon, they have been part of the community for so many years. Lynn is quiet and reserved, a very loyal friend with a heart of gold. She is a great mom and grandmom. Both of them are just phenomenal people. They are kind, loving and community-oriented people, who will be there for you during a tough time. They will be missed. Avalon will be so sad to see them go.”