Stamford High's Wall of Fame was unveiled in 1998 to acknowledge graduates who have made a significant contribution to their field and to the community. It was conceived and developed by Valerie Herrmann, a Stamford High parent, in cooperation with former Principal Anthony Pavia, to recognize and honor accomplished alumni, as well as inspire current students to higher goals, ideals and "an attitude of success."
Tony Attanasio, Class of 1957. Inducted in 1999 – Business:
Tony Attanasio was named an "All-American" in soccer at the University of Connecticut, where he also played baseball. He continued to play both sports professionally. He left sports in the mid 1960's to pursue a career in financial management with two Pacific Northwest firms and holds a graduate degree in finance. Upon moving to San Diego and attending Western States School of Law, Tony began a management firm for the professional athlete called ADA Financial, Inc. The firm provides tax planning, legal guidance, contract negotiations, and other forms of career planning. A few of ADA's clients include Todd Stottlemyre, Mark McLemore, Juan Guzman, Bruce Bochy, Davey Lopes, Dave Stewart, Homer Bush and Bobby Valentine. Tony also is involved with a juvenile mentoring program for troubled students in the Poway, California school system.
Theodore D. Boccuzzi, Class of 1953. Inducted in 2006 – Business:
Theodore Boccuzzi was drafted into the U.S. Army and stationed in Korea after graduating from Colgate University. He has worked in the cosmetics, fragrance, health and beauty aids industries for most of his career. In 1979, he founded Advanced Distribution Systems, Inc., a contract warehousing and distribution company. He is a past president of the Cosmetic and Fragrance Buyers and Suppliers Association in New York, a member of the Fragrance Foundation in New York, and vice chairman of the Board of Trustees for The Heritage Affiliate of the American Heart Association in Connecticut. Ted played on the 1952 SHS state championship football team as a fullback and earned the nickname, "the Galloping Ghost." In addition to football, Ted ran track for the Black Knights. Most significant was his record in the 100-yard dash of 9.6 seconds during the 1953 FCIAC meet, a record that still stands to this day.
E. Gaynor Brennan, Sr., Class of 1921. Inducted in 2001 – Law:
E. Gaynor Brennan, Sr.'s many positions in public life ranged from lawyer, judge, minority leader of the state Senate, president of the Connecticut Bar Association, and chairman of Stamford's first Planning Board. In 1933, he wrote the state liquor law and was chairman of the State Liquor Control Commission. He was appointed to the state Parole Board in 1948 and, that same year, became director of the Connecticut State Prisons Commission. Mr. Brennan was instrumental in the development of Stamford's first municipal golf course. He negotiated for the Hubbard Heights property and the city appropriated $166,000 to acquire the 88-acre course that opened for golfers in 1949. The golf course, which now bears his name, is a lasting reminder of E. Gaynor Brennan's contributions to the City of Stamford.
Jack Cavanaugh, Class of 1947. Inducted in 2002 – Journalism:
Jack Cavanaugh began a career in journalism reporting for The Providence Journal. For many years, he worked freelance as a reporter, sportswriter and feature writer for The New York Times and several other newspapers and news agencies, including Reuters and UPI. He also was an on-air reporter for ABC News and CBS News and a writer for major national magazines, including Sports Illustrated, Reader's Digest, Golf Digest and the in-flight airline magazines Sky and American Way. His interest in disabled athletes, who inspired him with their lack of self-pity and their resolute determination to succeed, led him to author Damn the Disabilities: Full Speed Ahead! The book, written in 1994, features athletes who overcame handicaps to excel in sports. He has also written inspirational stories about young athletes for the Chicken Soup book series. Jack developed a second career as a teacher. He has taught broadcast journalism at Norwalk Community Technical College and is an adjunct writing professor at the University of Connecticut's Stamford Branch and at Fairfield and Quinnipiac universities. He gives freely of his spare time by serving as a mentor at the Young Writers Institute at Kingswood-Oxford Prep School in West Hartford and by volunteering at Smith House Nursing Facility in Stamford. A writer on the school newspaper as a student, Jack remains loyal to Stamford High, returning several times to speak to classes on writing.
Garry "G" Cobb, Class of 1975. Inducted in 2001 – Sports:
Garry Cobb had an 11-year career in the National Football League. He initially signed with the Detroit Lions in 1979 and also played for the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys. While playing for the Eagles, he was selected NFL Defensive Player of the Year by Sports Illustrated and was nominated as "NFL Man of the Year." Upon his retirement from football in 1990, he began a successful career in sports journalism. He also distinguished himself in community service as a co-founder of "Pathway to Excellence," which challenges youth to excel in school and overcome obstacles. This program is now in 14 middle schools in Pennsylvania. Garry has served as a member of the board of directors of Big Brothers and Sisters of Philadelphia and the Jaycees honored him as that city's "Outstanding Young Man of the Year" for his efforts on behalf of inner city and troubled young people.
Laurie Haggerty Dolian, Class of 1969. Inducted in 2006 – Education & Public Service:
Laurie Haggerty Dolian was a teacher at Cloonan Middle School and earned a Masters degree in Agency Counseling from the University of Bridgeport. Laurie demonstrated her dedication to family literacy for low-income families through her involvement in Literacy Volunteers and Reading is Fundamental, and her career at the Childcare Learning Centers. In the community, Laurie coached softball, basketball, and baseball in Stamford youth leagues. At St. Francis Episcopal Church, she served as teacher, youth leader, outreach chairperson, and vestry member. She has volunteered for Americares Homefront, Midnight Run and the New Covenant House soup kitchen and co-chaired, with her husband, Bob, Stamford's Annual United Way Campaign. Laurie received the WSTC Volunteer of the Month and the Junior League Volunteer Award, and was nominated for Community Leader. In 1985, she won the Stamford women's tennis championship. She is a volunteer for Lynchburg College, her alma mater.
Robert Dolian, Class of 1965. Inducted in 2006 – Law & Public Service:
Robert Dolian served in the Peace Corps in Burkina Faso, Africa. He organized rural development projects, including building a school, installing wells, and constructing a rice project. In 1975, Bob graduated from Harvard Law School and began a career as a trial lawyer at Cummings & Lockwood in Stamford. Bob chaired the litigation department and was appointed the firm's first general counsel. He served as a Special Master in Connecticut's federal court and as an attorney trial referee in the Connecticut Superior Court. Bob served the community as board chairman of the Stamford United Way and as board chairman of Connecticut Legal Services, which provides legal representation to low-income clients. At Stamford's St. Francis Episcopal Church, he was treasurer and chairman of its finance committee. In 2004, the Stamford United Way presented Bob with the Thomas F. Richardson Award in recognition of his years of community service.
William B. Ellis, Class of 1932. Inducted in 2009 – Rear Admiral:
Retired Coast Guard Rear Admiral William Ellis graduated from the Coast Guard Academy in 1936 with a B.S. in General Engineering. During World War II he was one of the youngest commanders engaged in North Atlantic convoy duty. His responsibilities grew as the War continued, and he received the Bronze Star, the Victory Medal and National Defense Service Medal at its conclusion. Mr. Ellis continued to serve as a commander in the Coast Guard, taught at the Coast Guard Academy, was assigned to the Pentagon, and was promoted to Rear Admiral in 1966.
James W. Foreman. Inducted in 2002 – Public Service:
Born and raised in Stamford, Mr. Foreman entered Stamford High in 1926. Forced to leave SHS after two years due to the death of his parents, he lived with a foster family and spent his time running errands for the late Police Chief Jack Brennan. The chief liked Jim and gave him a job bringing meals to prisoners in the Stamford jail. Jim decided to pursue a career with the police department. Although he achieved top scores on the exam, he was continually rejected because of the discriminatory practices that existed at that time. With persistence, Jim finally entered the police department by becoming a special officer doing security work, but he was not allowed to carry a weapon. He then became a supernumerary, a position he held for 13 years. In 1942, during World War II, Jim entered the Army. He was assigned to various security, intelligence and investigative tasks. It was during his military service that he was promoted to a Stamford police officer, becoming the first black person to obtain this status. He retired in 1977 at the mandated age of 65. Jim volunteered his services for many churches and organizations. He was a member of the Knights of Columbus, the American Legion, Retired Police Association and St. John's Roman Catholic Church. At 90 years of age, he performed weddings as a Justice of the Peace and ensured the safety of children by working as a crossing guard. He received the Army Commendation from the U.S. Secretary of War, the Joseph Kinsella Memorial Award, City of Stamford Outstanding Service and the International Identification Officers Association awards. In 1988, he received the African American History Class Award from Stamford High School.
S. Beatrice Foreman, Class of 1934. Inducted in 2002 – Public Service:
S. Beatrice Ransom Foreman was a home economics teacher in Tennessee, Ohio and Stamford for 42 years before retiring in 1978. She taught at Rogers Junior High School and Westhill High School and was a substitute teacher at Wright Tech. Beatrice has the distinction of being the first black woman elected to the Stamford Board of Education. She also served as its president. She was the first black woman on the Stamford Hospital Board of Trustees, and she served on the boards of New Neighborhoods, CTE, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, NAACP, League of Women Voters, Person to Person Scholarship Committee, Retired Teachers of Connecticut and The Girl Friends, Inc. She volunteered for ten years with the American Red Cross Bloodmobile and the Heart Fund. Beatrice has been honored by Stamford Hospital, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., the Yerwood Center Women's Club, the State Justice Commission, SNET Advisory Board, NAACP, Stamford Education Association and Connecticut Ministers Wives Association. She was chosen Citizen of the Year by Fred Robbins Post of the Jewish War Veterans and received the African American History Class Award from Stamford High.
Mary Jane Hagan, Class of 1954. Inducted in 2001 – Humanity & Sports:
From 1958 to 1966, Mary Jane Hagan taught physical education at SHS while coaching field hockey, basketball and softball. In 1973, she was promoted to Coordinator of Physical Education, Health and Safety for the Stamford Public Schools. She also served as president of the Women's Fairfield County Athletic Conference, which organized women coaches and fostered girls' high school sports. Mary Jane has been a major force in Special Olympics, serving as the Southwest Connecticut Regional Director and as equestrian and golf coach for Team Connecticut in the 1995 Special Olympics World Games. Mary Jane was inducted into the Connecticut Women's Basketball Hall of Fame and the Connecticut Amateur Softball Association's Fast Pitch Hall of Fame.
Mary Ann Hoberman, Class of 1947. Inducted in 2009 – Author / Poet:
Mrs. Hoberman graduated from Smith College with a B.A. in History and did her graduate work at Yale University, earning an M.A. in English Literature. She has taught writing and literature from elementary through the college level. Her first book was published in 1957 and she has been writing for children ever since. She received a National Book Award in 1983, and among numerous other awards and achievements, was selected as the Children’s Poet Laureate of the U.S. in 2008 by the Poetry Foundation.
Jimmy Ienner, Class of 1963. Inducted in 1998 – Business & Entertainment:
Jimmy Ienner is recognized nationally and internationally in the music and entertainment industry as a producer, advisor, publisher and consultant. He has been awarded 85 Golden and Platinum albums, multiple Grammys and two Oscars. He had business relationships with such recording artists as John Lennon, Pink Floyd, Donna Summers and Patrick Swayze. Amongst his film credits are Dirty Dancing, which won an Oscar and is one of the top selling albums of all time; Big Chill, White Men Can't Jump and Sister Act. Jimmy also has impacted the lives of many by offering his time, efforts and support to local charities.
J. Walter Kennedy, Class of 1930. Inducted in 1998 – Government & Sports:
J. Walter Kennedy served as mayor of Stamford for two terms (1959-63) and his first act was to sign the contract for downtown urban renewal. He was National Basketball Association Commissioner from 1963-75. During his tenure, the league doubled in size, attendance tripled and financial stability was achieved. Previously, Walter was a teacher and athletic director at St. Basil's Preparatory School in Stamford and Sports Information Director at the University of Notre Dame before starting his own public relations business. Among his clients were the Harlem Globetrotters. Over the years, he visited 52 countries and met three Popes while traveling with the team. Walter was committed to Stamford and was twice honored for his efforts to promote racial harmony. He served as chairman of the International Special Olympics, was on the board of Boys Town of Italy and was named a Knight of St. Gregory by the Vatican for his contributions to state and church.
Paul Kuczo Sr., Class of 1924. Inducted in 2002 – Education:
Paul Kuczo was a founding member of the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference (FCIAC) and its first president. In addition, he helped found the Connecticut High School Coaches Association (CHSCA), Stamford Old Timers and the Fairfield County Chapter of the Football Hall of Fame and served as president of each organization. After college, he played professional baseball and football. Paul returned to Stamford in 1928 and was hired by the Stamford Board of Education as a math teacher and coach, replacing the legendary Michael Boyle, who had been his coach. His football coaching record of 190 wins includes state championships in 1937, 1950 and 1952. His baseball teams were among the best in the East, winning 428 games, including the state championship in 1950. They were the runners-up from 1944-50. He coached basketball until 1951 (23 years), during which time the Orange and Black won 263 games. Paul Kuczo never had a losing season in 30 years. He received the prestigious Sports Writers Gold Key Award in 1958, was inducted into the CHSCA Hall of Fame, the FCIAC Hall of Fame and the Stamford Old Timers Hall of Fame. He was honored as the National High School Athletic Director in 1967. The Stamford High School gymnasium was later named in his honor. In his 40-year span at Stamford High as a teacher, coach and supervisor of athletics, Paul helped shape generations of students.
Eleanor Roberts Lewis, Class of 1961. Inducted in 2004 – Education, Government & Law:
Eleanor Roberts Lewis has spent almost 30 years in federal service at the U.S. Department of Commerce and Housing and Urban Development. While Chief Counsel for International Commerce at the Department of Commerce, she was personally involved in the negotiations and implementation of many international trade and investment agreements, including the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). She has worked on other important trade initiatives as well, such as efforts to stop international commercial bribery. In 1999, in recognition of her career-long contributions to the field of international trade law, Eleanor received a “Rank Award” from President Clinton, one of the highest awards a federal official can receive. She also has received several Commerce Department Silver and Gold medals for her accomplishments. Prior to her service with the federal government, Eleanor practiced law in Washington, D.C. and taught secondary school in Massachusetts and Maryland.
U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman, Class of 1960. Inducted in 1998 – Government:
Joe Lieberman has been a U.S. Senator since 1988 and was the Democratic candidate for Vice President of the United States in 2000 on a ticket with Al Gore. He has earned a national reputation as a thoughtful, effective legislator. Some of his priority issues relate to families, the environment, a strong defense and business. Among Sen. Lieberman's many accomplishments include legislation to expand loans for small businesses and college students, establishing and retaining a Long Island Sound office in the Environmental Protection Agency, exposing government waste, and winning passage of the Congressional Accountability Act, which makes Congress live by the same laws it applies to the nation.
Donna A. Lopiano, Ph.D, Class of 1964. Inducted in 1998 – Sports:
Dr. Lopiano is executive director of the Women's Sports Foundation. In 1997, The Sporting News listed her as #67 of "The 100 Most Influential People in Sports" and, in 1996-97, College Sports magazine ranked her #22 among "The Most Influential People in College Sports." Dr. Lopiano has been a college coach of men's and women's volleyball, and women's basketball and softball. As an athlete, she participated in 26 national championships in four sports and was a nine-time All-American at four positions in softball, a sport in which she played on six national championship teams. She is a member of the National Sports Hall of Fame, the National Softball Hall of Fame and the Texas Women's Hall of Fame, among others.
Joseph Mehan, Class of 1946. Inducted in 2009 – Communications / Public Service:
Mr. Mehan earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees at Columbia. He began his career as a reporter for the Stamford Advocate, The Dallas Morning News, and the Newark Star Ledger. He became involved in television news in its early days as a writer and producer for NBC. He wrote for such programs as the Today Show and the Huntley-Brinkley Report, and attended such historic events as space launches and national political conventions. In the 1970s he left the corporate world to become Director of Communications for the United Negro College Fund, and under his direction they adopted the slogan "A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Waste." He later worked as Director of Public Information for UNESCO, and eventually became a Professor of Communications at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
Sondra Shanen Melzer, Class of 1952. Inducted in 2003 – Education:
For 24 years, Sondra Shanen Melzer chaired the English Department at Westhill High School in Stamford. In addition, she is an Assistant Professor of Education at Sacred Heart University and an Adjunct Professor of English at the University of Connecticut and the University of Bridgeport. She has been honored with an "Outstanding Secondary Educators of America Award," was a two-time finalist as Stamford "Teacher of the Year," received a "Celebration of Excellence Award" from the State of Connecticut, and hosted a television series, "Exploring Literature." She is published in the James Joyce Quarterly, the English Journal and Women in Literature and Life Assembly. In 1997, she authored the book, The Rhetoric of Rage: Women in Dorothy Parker. Dr. Melzer won a summer fellowship to study the Holocaust in Israel in 1993 and taught a course called "The Holocaust Revisited" to over 400 teachers in Connecticut.
Nicolas J. Mercede, Class of 1945. Inducted in 2009 – Developer:
Mr. Mercede joined Frank Mercede & Sons, Inc. in 1946 after serving in the United States Navy as an air crewman. Over the years he served as its president, a director, and Chairman of the Board. The company has built numerous schools, hospitals, churches, commercial buildings, and many structures requiring highly technical construction in the City of Stamford. Mr. Mercede has also sought to build lives by contributing to an endless number of charities throughout the years. In 1991, he received one of the highest honors given to a layperson of the Catholic Church when he was made a Knight of St. Gregory.
Gabrielle Napolitano, Class of 1978. Inducted in 1999 – Business:
Gabrielle Napolitano is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and a managing director in the Portfolio Strategy Group of the Investment Research Department at Goldman, Sachs & Co. She is a key member of the team that generates the firm's U.S. investment strategy recommendations and publications and serves on the Stock Exchange committee. Gabrielle was named to Institutional Investor's "All-American Research Team" of financial analysts for the past three years, ranking second in Accounting and Tax Policy in 1998. She previously was a vice president for Barclay's de Zoete Wedd Inc. and served as chairperson of the Financial Accounting Policy Committee (FAPC) of the Association for Investment Management and Research (AIMR). She also is a member of the Financial Accounting Standards Advisory Council and the National Association of Business Economists. While at SHS, Gabrielle was the first female in Stamford's history to score more than 1,000 points in a 3-year varsity basketball career.
Judge Alan H. Nevas, Class of 1945. Inducted in 2009 – Sr. US District Judge:
Judge Nevas graduated from Syracuse University and NYU Law School. In 1981 he became U.S. Attorney for Connecticut. In 1985 he was nominated by President Reagan for a U.S. District Court Judgeship and after confirmation by the U.S. Senate, he served as a U.S. District Judge in Connecticut until his retirement in February of 2009. Judge Nevas also served in the U.S. Army from 1952-54, and served his community in numerous volunteer capacities over the years, including as a State Representative to the Connecticut General Assembly, serving as both Majority and Minority Leader over the years.
Dr. Roy Nirschel, Class of 1970. Inducted in 2004 – Education:
Roy Nirschel was appointed the eighth president of Roger Williams University in 2001. During his tenure at Roger Williams, Dr. Nirschel has initiated university-wide strategic planning, led the development of a campus master plan, and launched a campaign to enhance the visibility of the university embodied by the phrase "Learning to Bridge the World." During his presidency, he has initiated several new programs to raise capital and recognize faculty achievements. The university has achieved record increases in enrollment, academic quality, fundraising, and government grant support. Throughout his two decades in higher education, Dr. Nirschel has been known as a strategic planner and innovator. He has been responsible for raising more than $800 million for the colleges and universities with which he has been associated. Previously, he served as president of Newbury College in Boston, vice president of the University of Miami, and assistant vice president at the University of Pittsburgh.
Salvatore J. Princiotti, Class of 1952. Inducted in 2004 – Education & Arts:
Salvatore Princiotti graduated from the Juilliard School and then settled in Stamford to begin his highly successful teaching career. Throughout his 50 years conducting orchestras and ensembles, working in public school and teaching private students, he has had the opportunity to work with thousands of young people and adults. In 1960, he organized the Stamford Young Artists Philharmonic, which has contributed to the appreciation and advancement of the arts in the community, especially among talented young musicians. He has conducted at orchestral festivals throughout Connecticut and New England. His book, The Heart of Music, shares a lifetime of wisdom about the art of teaching and learning to play stringed instruments.
Frank D. Rich Jr., Class of 1941. Inducted in 2001 – Business and Robert N. Rich, Class of 1944. Inducted in 2001 – Business:
The successful siblings, Frank and Bob Rich, graduated from Stamford High School in 1941 and 1944, respectively. Their father, F.D. Rich, founded a small construction company after World War I, and Frank and Bob were instrumental in making it a nationally recognized force in the construction industry. In the last four decades of the 20th century, the Rich brothers helped to define Stamford, particularly the downtown area. Most notably, they built Landmark Tower and founded the Rich Forum, which has established itself as a center for the arts in Fairfield County. Over the years, the F. D. Rich Company expanded the geographical range of its activities throughout the continental United States, as well as Alaska, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, and developed and built projects worldwide. Bob Rich, who was pictured in the SHS clock tower in the 1944 yearbook, said, "Little had I known that day I was standing in the clock tower overlooking the skyline of Stamford that I would devote much of my life to creating a new one for the City of Stamford." Frank Jr. and Bob Rich helped establish Stamford as an important commercial, financial and cultural center for the 21st century.
Andy Robustelli, Class of 1943. Inducted in 1998 – Sports:
Andy Robustelli saw active service during World War II in the South Pacific aboard a destroyer escort for the U.S. Navy. He was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in 1951 and played professional football there until his 1955 trade to the New York Giants. He played nine more seasons for the Giants before retiring in 1964. He was selected to the All-Pro team nine times and played in nine championship games during his 14-year career. Andy served as defensive captain of the Giants for six years and as player and defensive coach from 1961 to 1964. In 1962, he was awarded the Maxwell Trophy, symbolic of the league's Most Valuable Player. The crowning achievement of his professional football career was his election to the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio in 1971. His success continued after his retirement, devoting full time to his business, Robustelli Corporate Services, which he began while still an active player.
Jack Romanos, Class of 1960. Inducted in 2004 – Business:
Jack Romanos became president of Simon & Schuster in 2002 after serving the company in various executive positions since 1985. Previously, he was publisher of Bantam Books. Under his leadership, Simon & Schuster won numerous National Book Awards, and, since 1986, 11 Pulitzer Prizes. Jack is involved in many industry associations, and has been named often to Entertainment Weekly's list of the "101 Most Powerful People in Entertainment." During his career, Jack has published many of the best-selling and most acclaimed books of our times, including The Way Things Ought to Be by Rush Limbaugh, Private Parts by Howard Stern, What They Don't Teach You at Harvard Business School by Mark H. McCormack, Keeping Faith: The Memoirs of a President by Jimmy Carter, Iacocca by Lee Iacocca, Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt, John Adams by David McCullough, and Living History by Hillary Rodham Clinton.
James A. Sparrow, Class of 1965. Inducted in 2003 – Military & Activism:
James Sparrow enlisted in the United States Marine Corp after graduation and served with the Second Marine Division in the Caribbean and Latin America and with NATO forces in Norway. He graduated from the Army's Green Beret Jungle School in Panama and served in Vietnam from December 1966 to January 1968 with the First Marine Provisional Rifle Company. He was awarded the Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Cross of Gallantry, the Combat Action Ribbon, the Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Medal, the Expert Rifle Badge, two Naval Unit Citations, and two Presidential Unit Citations. For 25 years, James has been involved in veterans' affairs on the local, national, and international levels. He spearheaded the cause of Vietnam Veterans exposed to Agent Orange (dioxin) and, in 1978, was one of the founders of Vietnam Veterans Agent Orange Victims, Inc. The group was the first to file a lawsuit against the chemical companies that produced Agent Orange. The suit was the basis for the famous class action lawsuit (the largest of its kind at the time) that resulted in an out-of-court settlement in 1984 for $250 million. The data Mr. Sparrow compiled and his testimony in Federal Court were instrumental in obtaining the settlement and getting relief for tens of thousands of Vietnam Veterans and their families. In 1982, he fought to create the Connecticut State Herbicide Information Commission and was its first chairman. In 1988, he was instrumental in the creation of the State of Connecticut Department of Veteran Affairs. In 1995, James Sparrow was awarded the Connecticut State Veterans Commendation Medal for a lifetime of service to Connecticut veterans.
Stamford High School War Veterans. Inducted in 1999:
Young men and women from Stamford High School have served our country in every major conflict, from the First World War to the present. They have served on every major battlefield from the Argonne Forest in Europe to Iwo Jima in the Pacific to Chesin Reservoir in Korea and Kuwait City in the Middle East. Beginning with the first World War, more than 20,000 SHS students have served in the armed forces. The second World War alone saw more than 10,000 join the military, with nearly 200 young men making the ultimate sacrifice. These students represented a true cross section of America. They endured every conceivable hardship and made sacrifices that are incomprehensible to most of us today. Their selflessness and bravery in combat won them many of our highest decorations and commendations. When reading about the history of armed conflict in the 20th Century, our students today should be reminded that in every major battle and in every significant military event, there were SHS students present helping to write history. In honor of those who served our nation and, as a lasting tribute and memorial to all of our SHS veterans, we remember them on our Wall of Fame.
Charles Strauss, Class of 1961. Inducted in 2002 – Business:
Charles Strauss' career with Unilever began in 1986 with his appointment as President/CEO of Ragu Foods. Unilever is the world’s largest diversified consumer products company. After serving in several executive positions, Strauss was appointed President/CEO of Unilever United States. In 2000, he was elected to the Unilever Board of Directors. Prior to Unilever, Charles served as President/CEO of an affiliate of H.J. Heinz and as managing partner of Marketing Corporation of America, consulting for clients on strategic planning, marketing management and acquisition. He also enjoyed an international business career with Playtex from 1967 to 1977. His first job after college was as a staff reporter for The Wall Street Journal. However, he was more fascinated by the business issues about which he wrote. He enrolled at Columbia Business School and majored in marketing. Charles has participated in programs at Stamford High, including serving as the "Principal for the Day" in 2001.
Dr. Ralph T. Tella, Class of 1937. Inducted in 2006 – Medicine:
Dr. Ralph T. Tella served generations of area families in his 40-year career as a pediatrician. Dr. Tella served in a U.S. Army Medical Corps M.A.S.H. unit during the Korean Conflict. After the war, Dr. Tella returned home to practice pediatrics. He was a member of the Stamford Hospital staff from 1950 to 1989 and served as Chief of Pediatrics at both Stamford Hospital (1968 to 1973) and St. Joseph Hospital (1971 to 1976). Thousands of children knew Dr. Tella's kindly manner, his bowties, the fish tank in the waiting room, and the cat clocks in the examining rooms. Dr. Tella was a member of numerous medical societies. He was a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and a diplomat of the American Board of Pediatrics. After retiring, Dr. Tella volunteered at the Yerwood Center clinic for many years.
William Truehart, Class of 1960. Inducted in 1999 – Business:
Dr. William E. Trueheart became the president of Reading is Fundamental, Inc. (RIF), the oldest and largest national children's literacy organization, on June 1, 1997. From 1989 to 1996, Dr. Trueheart served as president of Bryant College in Rhode Island. He was the first African-American to head a four-year private college in New England. Dr. Trueheart previously served as executive vice president and as a member of the college's Board of Trustees. Before his service at Bryant, he was associate secretary of Harvard University's Office of Governing Boards and the assistant dean and director of the Master in Public Administration Program at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. Dr. Trueheart held several administrative posts at the University of Connecticut, including dean of Undergraduate Academic Affairs in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Assistant to the President. Dr. Trueheart's civic and professional activities include service as chairman of the Rhode Island Independent Higher Education Association, vice chairman of the National Council of Presidents for the Association of Governing Boards, and director of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Rhode Island Children's Crusade, among others. Dr. Trueheart was a Ford Foundation Fellow and an American Council on Education (ACE) Fellow.
Joseph R. Ulatoski, Class of 1945. Inducted in 2006 – Military & Business:
Joseph Ulatoski enlisted in the Army as a 17-year-old private during the latter stage of World War II and retired 32½ years later as a Brigadier General. He served during three wars – WWII, Korea, and Vietnam – and had tours of duty as a combat infantryman, paratrooper, and Green Beret. He was awarded a number of U.S. and foreign decorations. On retirement in 1977, Joe joined the business world. His most interesting job was as director of Russell 20-20, an association of major pension funds and money management companies formed to evaluate countries worldwide that are transitioning into some form of market economy. After his next retirement, he became involved in volunteer work focused on helping to plan and organize the citizens of Vashon Island, Washington, to cope with natural or manmade disasters, such as earthquakes or terrorism.
Chico Vejar, Class of 1951. Inducted in 1999 – Sports:
Chico Vejar started his professional boxing career when he was a junior at SHS in 1950. Known during the early part of his career as "Stamford's Socking Schoolboy," he won 93 of 117 pro bouts, losing 20 and fighting four draws. Chico was the world's fifth-ranked middleweight in 1958. He fought 11 times at Madison Square Garden and appeared frequently in nationally televised fights. Chico studied drama at New York University and appeared in two movies in the 1950’s that starred Tony Curtis and Audie Murphy. From 1953 to 1955, Chico was in the U.S. Army, where he taught boxing and self-defense and helped train Army Rangers. He returned to Stamford in 1961 at the age of 29 to spend time with his son, Jimmy, who died the following year at age 3 from complications resulting from cerebral palsy. Chico served as executive director of both the Fairfield and Westchester county chapters of the United Cerebral Palsy Association and as a member of the Connecticut State Athletic Commission. He helped establish the Jimmy Vejar Day Camp in Rye Brook, N.Y. for children with cerebral palsy. A portrait of Chico, painted by Stamford native George Dugan, hangs in the Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, N.Y.
Ralph Vitti (Michael Dante), Class of 1949. Inducted in 2003 – Entertainment:
Ralph Vitti signed a bonus contract out of high school to play professional baseball with the Boston Braves and later went to the Washington Senators before an arm injury ended his career. After one year studying drama at the University of Miami in Florida, Mr. Vitti left for Hollywood to pursue his dream of acting in movies and on television. Tommy Dorsey, the renowned bandleader, arranged a screen test at MGM for Mr. Vitti. Adopting the stage name of Michael Dante, he has appeared in approximately 30 motion pictures and 150 television shows. His film credits include Westbound, Seven Thieves, Kid Galahad, The Naked Kiss, Apache Rifles and the title role in Winterhawk. His guest-starring roles on television include Knot's Landing, Days of Our Lives, Star Trek, General Hospital, Bonanza, Perry Mason and The Six Million Dollar Man. On radio, he hosted more than 200 episodes of The Michael Dante Celebrity Talk Show, interviewing top names in entertainment and sports. He was honored in 1994 for lifetime achievement in the field of entertainment by the Palm Springs Walk of Stars and, in 2002, received the Directors Choice Award for The Naked Kiss. Since 1991, he has hosted the Michael Dante Celebrity Golf Classic benefiting various charitable organizations in California.
Paul H.L. Walter, Class of 1952. Inducted in 2009 – Educator / Service:
Dr. Walter graduated from MIT and earned his Ph.D. from the University of Kansas, majoring in Chemistry. He worked for E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. Inc., before becoming a professor of Chemistry at Skidmore College, where he worked until he retired in 1996. In 1997 he was chosen as the President-elect of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific organization. He served as its president the following year. His honors and affiliations are too numerous to mention here.
Gary White, Class of 1972. Inducted in 2003 – Law:
After graduating from Harvard Law School, Gary White practiced law in Fairfield County for 17 years, working in private and corporate law and as a public defender. During this time, he also taught law and political science courses at Norwalk Community College, the University of Connecticut at Stamford and Sacred Heart University. In 1996, Governor John G. Rowland appointed him to an eight-year term as a judge of the Superior Court. During his judicial tenure, he has served as the Presiding Judge for two districts of New Haven and as the Assistant Administrative Judge for the Judicial District of Danbury. Judge White presides over a variety of civil and criminal trials. He served as a faculty member at the Connecticut Judges' Association and serves on its Legislative Liaison Committee. He also serves on judicial committees concerning law and technology and family violence protective orders, and frequently accepts speaking engagements from community organizations. Gary was the speaker at the 1997 SHS graduation.
The criteria for selection include the following:
- Candidate must be a graduate of Stamford High School, either living or deceased, and have graduated at least 20 years prior to his or her nomination.
- Candidate must have excelled in his or her particular field in a manner bringing honor to himself or herself, to Stamford High School, and to the Friends of Stamford High Alumni Association.
- Candidate must be an initiator and leader; be dependable, dedicated and honorable; and must have given back to society or performed significant community service.
To nominate a deserving SHS graduate for Wall of Fame recognition, please click here for the form.