This year’s award winner was raised in Connecticut and attended Central Connecticut State University as a freshman in 1952. No sooner did he start school when he was drafted into the US Army and was sent to Korea. Our recipient served with distinction and returned home in 1954 with the Combat Infantry Badge and the National Defense Service Medal.
Upon returning to Central, this year’s winner joined the football team and went on to lead them to an undefeated season in 1954 as both the team’s captain and starting quarterback.
During our recipient’s senior year, they interviewed for a teaching job at Rumsey Hall School here in Washington. Over the course of the next 52 years, our winner contributed his heart and soul to the school by serving as football coach, math teacher, advisor, and ultimately Headmaster for over 15 years.
Over this long and impressive career, our receiver has earned many accolades. In 1977, they were given an outstanding service award from the Western Connecticut Football Officials Association for their contribution to football and to our youth. In 1981, our winner received the Kaiser Alumni Service Award from Central Connecticut State University, an award given each year to an alum who played intercollegiate athletics and subsequently after graduation distinguished himself or herself and the university by his or her accomplishments and service.
This year’s recipient’s efforts did not stop the walls of Rumsey Hall School. Since arriving in Washington 52 years ago, they have been an active member of our community, contributing time and effort to many groups and organizations, often if very quiet ways.
Our winner has spent countless hours volunteering for the Washington Citizen’s Scholarship over the last 30 years, as well as served on the Parks and Recreation commission for the last
several years filling any role that was needed. Our recipient has also been a very active member in the American Legion as well as the Lion’s Club for most of their time here in Washington. And back in the days when our children’s lives weren’t so busy and overscheduled, our award winner started a summer camp here with two colleagues, giving over 50 kids a summer, 6 weeks of sports, fun and friendships for over 12 years in the 70’s and 80’s.
I have only listed a few of our award winner’s accomplishments today, but I believe they highlight the character of this exceptional citizen. Their tireless and selfless contribution to our country and our community exemplify the qualities we associate with Stephen Reich: character, leadership, achievement and service. Before I share the name of our very deserving recipient of the 2009 Major Stephen Reich Award with you, I’d like to read a brief poem our honoree wrote shortly after Stephen’s death.
As the poet John Donne wrote, “Each man’s death diminishes me, because I am part of mankind.” But while death is universal, we are also aware that the lives which led to death differ drastically in quality. We realize that some people live their lives with such honor, and dignity, and morality, that at their deaths it is only fitting that those around them stand up and proclaim that this was a life worthy of note, worthy of respect, worthy of honor. Such was the life of Major Stephen Reich.
When the death of Stephen Reich occurred, we as a community were shaken by his loss. We, who stay behind, remember what his life was like and what he gave. We have little choice but to express our deepest regret that he is gone, but, more importantly, our gratitude that he was a member of our community, an example of honor, dignity and morality.
I know you will all agree with me, that this year’s recipient is worthy of the same note, respect and honor, he so eloquently conferred upon Stephen in this heartwarming poem. I am very proud to announce this year’s winner of the Major Stephen Reich Award for Exceptional Citizenship is Lou Magnoli.