About the Ottaway Medal
Each year, Vision Hudson Valley presents the Ruth and James Ottaway Medal to an individual (or organization) who has contributed significantly to quality of life in Orange County. Vision Hudson Valley chooses a community leader who exemplifies the dedication and positive impact the Ottaway family brought to Orange County and the Hudson Valley for several decades. Ruth and James Ottaway set the bar for community leadership by creating a newspaper publishing empire that raised the national standard for community-based reporting, developing organizations and programs that improved Orange County, and using their financial resources to support multiple charitable causes.
In business, the Ottaways believed in publishing only the highest quality information and were determined to develop quality community-based newspapers throughout the United States. Strong editorial content on local, state, national and world issues, concise reporting, and local news became the hallmark of Ottaway newspapers. The couple wasn’t afraid to take risks, and much of the company’s early expansion came from creative negotiation skills and personal guarantees. It was a testament to their business acumen that when Ottaway Newspapers merged with Dow Jones & Co. in 1969, at an estimated value of $36 million, the organization retained its independence and editorial freedom.
James Ottaway, Jr. has said that his father’s vision included newspapers that would build “a strong sense of community by helping volunteer groups and good government improve lives.” Certainly the Ottaways set a fine example of strong community involvement at home in Orange County. They established the Nicholas B. Ottaway Foundation, formed in 1971, and immediately organized broad-based fund drives to acquire land that would become the D&H Canal Park. They also played a large role in conservation of other land, including the County’s park in Warwick. The last contribution to the then Orange County Citizens Foundation was his family’s $250,000 gift to develop the Orange County Arboretum. On a national level, Jim was a director of the Associated Press and a founder of the American Press Institute.
Ruth was well known for her equestrian interests, and donated a large portion of Blackburne Farm, an Arabian horse-breeding business that she operated in Campbell Hall, to the County to develop a park. She was also active in the Sarah Wells Girl Scout Council, the League of Women Voters, the Arden Hill Hospital Auxiliary and its foundation, the Orange and Dutchess Garden Club, the Orange County Citizens Welfare Committee (a group serving foster children), and Winslow Therapeutic Riding Unlimited.
Vision Hudson Valley strives to continue the good work of the Ottaways, helping develop, as well as recognize, community leaders who emulate the generosity, ingenuity and spirit of Orange County’s “first couple.”
Ruth & James Ottaway
Edward H. Northrop
Louis V. Mills
H. Peter Stern
USMA at West Point
Sister Ann Sakac
F. Edward Devitt
Barbara & Harry Scherr
Dr. Hal Teitelbaum
Senator William Larkin
Nominations are encouraged! Please use this form to suggest a future Ottaway Medal honoree. Thank you!