This year’s recipient moved to Washington with his family in 1933 at the tender age of 3, where he soon attended the Washington Primary School, just across the river. Despite moving around a bit during his childhood, his family always called Washington home.
Our award winner went on to earn his college degree from Yale where he participated in the ROTC program. Following graduation, he entered the United States Air Force and became an accomplished pilot of the F-80 Shooting Star, the first American jet to be used in combat and the first to attain 500 mph in level flight. Upon returning home to Washington when his service was complete, he took advantage of the GI Bill and attended UConn law school from which he graduated in 1958.
After a short period of sharing a law practice with another local life long Washingtonian, he opened his own practice in 1960. He continues to practice here to this day.
Our recipient has spent his lifetime giving back to our wonderful community in many, many ways. One of his first selfless acts of contribution dates all the way back to the massive flood that struck Washington in 1955. Following this tragedy, our award winner spent hour after hour, day after day helping local citizens and merchants with the painstaking task of cleaning out stores and restoring homes. Along with other local leaders, our recipient and his family also played a significant role in raising money to rebuild our beloved town.
From 1967 to 1971, our award winner served as Washington’s Probate judge. During his tenure, he took it upon himself to hire a small staff, at his own expense, to bring all the hundreds of recordings up to date so all would run smoothly for his successor.
This year’s award winner also served as our Zoning Board Chairman for 6 years during the late 60s and early 70s. It was a tumultuous time for zoning in Washington and there was even talk at the time of doing away with zoning laws altogether. Under our recipient’s leadership, the commission continued to render fair decisions that helped keep the laws on the books. I think we would all agree that our strong zoning laws are one of the reasons that our town has remained so beautiful and unspoiled over these many decades.
Another passion of this year’s recipient has been the Parks & Recreation commission. While not serving in any official capacity, he was instrumental in supporting many of their initiatives including organizing the effort to build our Pavilion by the baseball field, as well as the recent improvements there that I’m sure you all have noticed. It was our recipient’s desire to see an inviting, public place for all Washingtonians to enjoy and have a central place that fosters community.
Perhaps our award winner’s most lasting contribution to our town has been his stewardship of the Washington Citizen’s Scholarship Fund. He has been the President since the fund’s inception in 1965 and has put in countless hours to ensure the fund’s continued growth and success. Beginning with a donation of only $2400, this year the Fund will award just over $200,000 in scholarships.
Our recipient has dedicated himself to the service of this great nation and this great community for all of his adult life. His leadership of key civic organizations and his tireless effort to make our home a better place for all Washingtonians, makes him an Exceptional Citizen, one who truly embodies the extraordinary qualities that exemplified Stephen’s life.
I am very proud to announce this year’s winner of the Major Stephen Reich Award for Exceptional Citizenship is Mr. Linc Cornell.