BEVERLY — The threat of rain pushed hundreds of senior citizens into the large Beverly High School field house Thursday for Senior Day, an annual Beverly Homecoming event typically held at Lynch Park.

But the slight change of plans didn’t stop Beverly native Maralyn Klibansky, 83, from receiving the 2019 Senior of the Year award.

At the announcement of her name, Klibansky was ushered through the doors and down the steps with her family to the podium, where she received a bouquet of flowers. The Beverly Council on Aging presents the annual award to someone who demonstrates strong community spirit and dedication to the volunteer efforts to the city.

The news was kept a secret to everyone, except Klibansky’s family, until just before noon on Aug. 8.

“I’m just in complete shock,” said Klibansky. “In our family, I don’t know how they kept it from me.”

Graduating from Beverly High School in 1954, Klibansky married and raised three children in her hometown. She worked as the director of admissions at Beverly Hospital for 24 years before retiring for only one year and becoming an office manager at a local physician practice, where she stayed for 16 years.

Over the last several decades, she’s served as chairwoman of the annual Beverly High School breakfast reunions and chair of the Ryal Side Civic Association, as well as a volunteer bus trip monitor at the Beverly Senior Center. In the 1960s, she was chairwoman of the Concerned Citizens for Civic Action and later became president of the PTA at the former McKay School. 

During the award presentation, Mayor Michael Cahill officially proclaimed Aug. 8 as "Maralyn Klibansky Day" in Beverly.

“Maralyn’s done amazing work as a volunteer in the community,” the mayor said, noting her perpetual positive and friendly voice and face. “She led the charge on a lot of great efforts in Beverly.”

Today, Klibansky is a member and active volunteer at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, a member of the Beverly Hospital Aid Association, and a chairwoman of the Beverly High School Class of 1954 reunion, where she’s working on planning their 65th anniversary in August. Klibansky also enjoys spending time with her eight grandchildren, bowling, reading, cooking and traveling.

Kelsey Klibansky, 29, said her grandmother is the matriarch of their family. And keeping this secret from her was far from easy.

“She’s a powerhouse,” she added. “I always tell her that her social calendar is more robust than mine.”

Nearly 500 senior citizens mingled over lemonade in the field house before COA Director MaryAnn Holak presented the annual award. The pre-ticketed event offered an afternoon of music, lunch, raffles and prizes.

Notable attendees included state Sen. Joan Lovely, Secretary of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs Elizabeth Chen, and members of the City Council. 

U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton recognized Klibansky with two declarations, from his office and another from U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

“At a time when we feel divided, you have brought us together,” he noted of Klibansky's volunteer work. “You have brightened our days. Thank you for being such a kind and generous leader for the city of Beverly.”

Klibansky’s daughter, Debra, said volunteering is crucial to her mother’s life. “She’s someone who loves to help other people,” she said. “It gives her a reason to keep going.”

Staff writer Alyse Diamantides can be reached at 978-338-2660 or adiamantides@salemnews.com.