Pawtucket Hall of Fame to Induct 12 New Members

Thursday, October 18, 2018


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Leonard Holland is one of the inductees

The Pawtucket Hall of Fame will induct 12 new members as part of the 2018 class.

See the Inductees in the Slideshow Below

The induction ceremony will take place on Friday, October 19 at the Pawtucket Armory Arts Center starting at 6 p.m.

Hall of Fame Class

This year’s 2018 Pawtucket Hall of Fame Inductees include (civic activist) Joseph Asermely, (youth mentor/umpire) Andrew Avakian, (psychologist/author) Dr. Christine Courtois, (columnist/therapy dog activist) Dawn Goff, (Adjutant General of Rhode Island) (the late) Major General Leonard Holland, (superior court judge/active volunteer) The Hon. Joseph Keough, Sr., (former city planner/preservationist) Paul Mowrey, (EMT leader/community volunteer) (the late) Raymond Murray, (comedic entertainer/author) Robert Perlow and (veteran educator/former water board chairperson) Mary Tetzner.

Also, being recognized as a “historical inductee” is inventor Thomas Giblin.

This year’s recipient of the “Person of the Year Award” is (champion of Looff Carousel in Slater Park) Donna Houle. 

See the Inductees in the Slideshow Below


Related Slideshow: 2018 Pawtucket Hall of Fame Inductees

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Leonard Holland

Major General Leonard Holland “the General”, is a member of “The Greatest Generation” – that part of our generation to earn the respect and admiration of a Nation. Born on April 9, 1916, he enlisted in the service and in April of 1941 attended Officer Candidate School, and upon completion, served in the Pacific Theater during World War Two. He was released from active military service in February 1946 and entered the Officers Reserve Corps the same year. He rose through the ranks and was promoted to Colonel in 1959.

On January 3 1961, he was appointed The Adjutant General of the State of RI until he retired in August of 1983. General Holland held this position for 23 years, serving at the “will and pleasure” under five different Rhode Island Governors, and was the longest serving Adjutant General in the United States. He was inducted into the RI Heritage Hall of Fame in 1981. While most knew of General Holland as a well-respected gentleman whose military accomplishments were unprecedented, many also knew that there was a softer side of this man that impacted many in the community.

Nicknamed ”The General” by friends, neighbors, and family, he and his wife Beatrice (Fi-Fi) raised their three sons’ in the Oak Hill section of Pawtucket. While many Rhode Islanders of a certain age may remember “The General” for his years of service, few knew him simply as a devoted husband, proud father, and friendly neighbor. “Lenny” raised three boys who have become successful in their own rights. As a resident and neighbor of Oak Hill, he was a celebrity. “Lenny” was the first to get a snow blower in the neighborhood and would clear his sidewalk first and then proceed down Wilcox Avenue up the hill onto Fowler Avenue clearing walkways with his machine. Smoking his famous cigar with his hat in tow, he made sure everyone who needed their walkways cleared was taken care of.

On numerous occasions, “Lenny” was asked to inspect the local Cub and Boy Scout troops in the neighborhood. He would arrive at the old Tennis Court Building in full uniform and carefully review each and every Cub and Boy Scout, always with a twinkle in his eye, a tap on the shoulder and handshake. What a thrill for each boy to meet “The General”! One summer, the Holland boys and several other kids from the area were all at Camp Fuller in Wakefield. During lunch, the unmistakable sound of a helicopter could be heard and shortly thereafter in walked General Holland. He had decided to drop in and see how things were going. After a brief exchange of pleasantries, he sought out every boy from the neighborhood, including his own, and made sure they were ‘ok’ and to see if they might be in need of anything. When he got home that evening, he called each parent to let them know he had seen their children and to send “supplies” (care packages).

During the blizzard of 1978, General Holland could be seen riding in the half-track, cigar in hand, supervising the snow removal in Pawtucket as well as the entire State. General Holland had thousands of men under his command. He was a born leader who knew how to inspire those he led. Simultaneously, he was simply just ‘a good guy”.

General Holland was that rare individual who was respected for his professional contribution, but was also a very kind, decent and sincere individual. He is remembered for his gestures of kindness well beyond his Military service.

He is now being recognized for all his contributions, not only his service to the City and the Community but also to the entire Country. We are honored to welcome General Leonard Holland as an inductee into this year’s Pawtucket Hall of Fame. 

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Andrew Avakian

One of Pawtucket’s unsung heroes is Andrew H. Avakian. From his love of athletics, he found umpiring, and he has spent most of his adult life giving back to the community as he most suitably knew how, working with the City’s youth. After graduating in the early ‘70s from Tolman High School, where he was a star three-sport athlete, Andrew H. Avakian eventually landed a job with the United States Postal Service. “Andy,” however, still wanted to be involved with athletics so he became a volunteer referee and coach for youth sports leagues and teams.

During more than 40 years in those roles, Andy has inspired people of all ages, and he is thankfully continuing his service to the City of Pawtucket. Both as umpire and mentor, he has taught kids that ‘fair play’ is the right way – both in sports and in life. During the 1980s, Andy coached youth basketball teams, and the for the past 20 years, he has been running the fall and winter basketball programs for children ages 7 to 10 at the Boys & Girls Club of Pawtucket in addition to refereeing the games. While serving in that capacity, he frequently stops play to conduct teaching moments to help the young athletes develop their skills.

In addition, Andy teaches the children about sportsmanship and how they can achieve their goals by working hard and maintaining a positive attitude. His efforts are credited with leading to greater participation in the basketball leagues, and parents and club officials have witnessed the appreciation and love the players have for Andy.

He remembers their names, he encourages and praises all of them and he demonstrates how important they are to him with acts of kindness off the court such as providing transportation to participants and their families to and from games as well as to grocery stores and appointments and reaching into his own pocket to financially assist with league fees. In the spring and summer, Andy is involved with the T-ball and baseball programs at the Boys & Girls Club, and if a child needs a glove or a bat, Andy ensures the individual has the necessary equipment. Besides his involvement with the Boys & Girls Club, Andy assigns referees for junior high school boys and girls basketball games free of charge, which saves the city hundreds of dollars a year.

Andy officiates games for Unified Basketball leagues operated for children and young adults with development disabilities; he shovels snow for senior citizens without receiving compensation; and he is an advocate and caretaker for a friend and a relative. As the late Ernest Abbott stated his nomination letter for Mr. Avakian; “Andy is universally loved, respected and admired, and his reputation is beyond reproach. He has gone above and beyond in all his efforts benefiting residents of this city that he loves.

Andrew Harris Avakian has made a lasting impact in the lives of generations of Pawtucket citizens. His extraordinary legacy will live on through the heart and soul of those he has touched and continues to touch. We are blessed to be able to refer to him as our native son. He is a shining example of the best the City of Pawtucket has to offer. For those reasons, we are proud to welcome Andrew Harris Avakian into the Pawtucket Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2018. 

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Joseph Asermely

Making Quality Hill and the City of Pawtucket better places to live is a way of life for Joseph Asermely. A lifelong resident of Pawtucket, Joe continues to demonstrate his deep sense of community through civic engagement that includes collecting litter while walking on weekends in his beloved Quality Hill, weeding sidewalks, clearing sewer drains, greeting new neighbors and keeping a watch over homes while owners are vacationing.

Joe has been a member of the Quality Hill Historic District Association since 1998, serving as the liaison between the organization and municipal government officials. Because of his leadership several beautification projects have been completed in his neighborhood. He worked with city personnel to design and post-historic district street signs and landscape an island of pavement at the Underwood Street and the Route 95 overpass with plants and flowers.

His initiatives to have trees planted in front of homes and retro-looking street lights installed throughout Quality Hill are ongoing. Joe spearheaded a successful campaign to save the “Read-Ott Mansion” built in 1842 on the property of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church, and the effort also resulted in an ordinance revision that makes it more difficult to demolish historic buildings. He spent 18 years working to turn land on Summit Street that overlooks Route 95 into the aesthetically-pleasing Sunset Park. The park includes irrigated flower beds and a gazebo, where residents can spend some precious moments relaxing or enjoying a view of our city from a unique vantage point. In conjunction with members of the Pawtucket Police Department and Councilman John Barry, Joe formed the Quality Hill Neighborhood Crime Watch Committee, holding numerous meetings in his home to establish an organization important to himself and many of his fellow residents.

Besides his successful efforts to beautify his city and preserve historic buildings, Joe has made a difference by raising funds for nonprofit organizations such as ACOS (AIDS Care Ocean State), The Samaritans, the Preservation Society of Pawtucket and the Pawtucket Soup Kitchen. He also has contributed to programs to provide assistance to the homeless and children in need. Joe’s civic commitment surfaced when he was a young man and it has become stronger over the years, yielding remarkable results that have benefitted the city and so many of its residents. His high level of volunteerism has served as an example, inspiring others to become involved in historic preservation and cultural and civic events.

As an agent of positive change, an exemplary volunteer, a protector of historic structures, a tireless advocate of Pawtucket and a leader that has tackled numerous problems and spearheaded many projects, we are proud to welcome Joseph Asermely into the Pawtucket Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2018. 

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Donna Houle

Donna Houle has fond memories of spending time at Slater Park as a child. It was conveniently located near her home in Darlington and a fun adventure for most any child from the community. On any given summer day, Donna could be found riding the Slater Park Carousel or in the winter, if it was cold enough, she would be ice skating on the frozen pond across from the carousel along with most of the other children from Pawtucket. Little did she know that eventually this place would become so near and dear to her heart, it would be brought to national recognition because of her efforts.

Donna has worked for the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council for the past 30 years as Manager of Special Projects. Some of these projects include the Fall Train Trip, the Blackstone Valley Annual Dinner and the ever-popular Polar Express. Ms. Houle’s proud achievements include her induction into the William Blackstone Society in 2009 as well as her appointments to the Rhode Heritage Commission and the Rhode Island Bicentennial Commission under Governor Joseph J. Garraghy. After much thought and research, combined with an abundant collection of photos and post cards on Slater Park and the carousel, Donna sought to produce a piece of work that could document the park and its history.

In 2012, Donna applied for and received funding through an Arts Grant from the City of Pawtucket, which allowed her to produce a video on her favorite subjects - Slater Park and the Looff Carousel. While doing research for this video, it came as a great surprise to her to learn that she was distantly related to noted carousel carver, Charles I D Looff! In 2015, Donna had the opportunity to attend the National Carousel Association Convention in New York, which ultimately proved to be an inspirational experience that only fueled her quest to learn more about the history of Pawtucket’s Looff Carousel.

Donna can tell you anything you would like to know about the Looff Carousel. It is made up of 44 horses, 2 chariots, 3 dogs, 1 lion, 1 camel, and 1 giraffe. It has a 1909 North Tonawanda band organ and it is recognized nationwide as one of the most historic, best preserved and best-maintained carousels in the country. It is hard to believe that in 1969 this carousel was in such disrepair, it was closed and almost sold at a silent-bid auction shortly before Christmas in 1971. Many of the horse’s legs were broken, several of the real horse hair tails were missing and the giraffe had no head! Because of the efforts of Anna Kent Partridge and the Pawtucket Junior Woman’s Club, the community came together to save the carousel.

The carousel re-opened to much fanfare in 1979 and an extensive restoration took place for the next 15 years – and the work continues. Upon learning of the carousel’s past history and its near slated demolition of the building and planned auction of the carousel horses which were to be sold piece-by-piece to collectors in 1971, Donna was inspired to organize the “Friends of the Looff Carousel at Slater Park”, a non-profit organization to preserve and protect this historic gem. Recently, Donna nominated Pawtucket’s Looff Carousel for the 2018 National Historic Carousel award and this past September happily accepted the award presented by Nancy Hutchins, the great - great granddaughter of Charles I D Looff at the NCA Convention this year. Donna still lives near Slater Park, now with her husband and daughters.

For Donna’s dedication to Pawtucket and its history, we are proud to recognize her as the Pawtucket Hall of Fame’s “Person of the Year”. 

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Dawn Goff

Small acts of kindness over time can add up to make a significant difference in a community, and when they are enacted by one person, that individual can be considered an agent of change. One such individual is Dawn Goff, a Pawtucket native who has helped people of all ages in the community for many years, and continues to do so, spreading good will and cheer all year long.

Dawn is best known throughout Greater Pawtucket for her therapy dogs named Tinker Bell and Wendy.

In a program she started six years ago at the Pawtucket Public Library, children improve their social and language skills by reading to the “nonjudgmental” canines, and a similar effort grew from this idea when it was instituted in October 2017 at the Agnes Little Elementary School for a select number of third-graders. According to Emily Mallozzi, resource coordinator at Agnes Little, the children who participated in the “Reading to Therapy Dogs Program” during the last school year advanced by 58 percent on the district’s oral reading fluency exam, surpassing their classmates whose growth averaged 28 percent. In her nomination letter, Emily writes: “She (Dawn) loves the children and changed their lives for the better by making them stronger readers, instilling a love of reading in them or just letting them know people out there in the world care about them.”

Dawn, Tinker Bell and Wendy also visit the Leon Mathieu Senior Center in Pawtucket twice a month to provide pet therapy, which has physical, psychological and social benefits, according to Mary Lou Moran, director of the center. She added that the visits have become a core piece of aging initiatives offered at Leon Mathieu. When Dawn was a dancer and teacher with the Ann Carr Dance Studio, she spent weekends entertaining residents of long-term care facilities and hospital patients and participating in shows staged by the United Service Organizations (USO) and at the former Dr. Joseph H. Ladd School in Exeter. Soon after visiting Winter Wonderland at Slater Memorial Park in Pawtucket in 1999, she became a member of the organizing committee for the family-friendly event and has held the position of vice president since 2010. Her dedication has assisted with enhancements that draw more people to Winter Wonderland year after year. In addition, Dawn is known for writing newspaper columns that shine a positive light on Pawtucket.

She started as a columnist for the former My Backyard and eventually wrote many of the articles for the newspaper’s Pawtucket edition. Now Dawn writes a weekly column titled All Around Town with Dawn, Tinker Bell & Wendy for The Times of Pawtucket. For all of her efforts and dedication to improving the lives of Pawtucket residents of all ages, we enthusiastically welcome Dawn Goff into the Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2018. 

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Joseph Keough

When Joseph A. Keough Sr. was employed by Johnson & Johnson from 1963 to 1970, he excelled as a sales representative, territory manager and key account executive. During those years he had many professional and family demands, but he still found the time to earn his law degree from Suffolk University in Boston, demonstrating a great amount of determination and tenacity.

The Saint Raphael Academy and Providence College graduate has always had the ability to handle many professional, personal and civic responsibilities and commitments without skipping a beat, allowing him to make significant contributions on many levels. After receiving his law degree in 1970, Joseph worked as an associate in the law firm of McGee, Gifford, Farrelly & Keough until 1975, when he became a partner in the firm of Keough & Gearon.

Joseph practiced law for 27 years and represented several professional athletes in contract negotiations and business matters, such as the former Boston Bruins player David Forbes, the first professional athlete ever charged with a crime for an act committed during an athletic event. Forbes was charged in 1975 with aggravated assault for striking a player of the former Minnesota North Stars in the eye with a hockey stick. A mistrial was declared, and the prosecutor declined to retry the case. In 1997, Joseph was appointed as a magistrate judge for the Rhode Island Superior Court, serving until 2008.

He handled civil and criminal calendars and resolved more than 5,000 victim compensation cases. In addition, Joseph was a member of the Pawtucket Zoning Board of Appeals and Review, chairman of the Rhode Island Board of Canvassers and Voter Registration, justice of the peace and bail commissioner in the Fifth Division District Court, executive director of the Rhode Island Democratic State Committee, associate and chief judge of the Pawtucket Municipal Court and chairman of the Pawtucket Juvenile Hearing Board. He is a longtime arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association, Dispute Resolution Inc., Court Annexed Arbitrators Panel and Court Annexed Mediation. Joseph is extremely active in the community, serving as vice president of the board of directors of the Pawtucket Soup Kitchen and as a member of the board of trustees of the Boys & Girls Club of Pawtucket. He is also a member of the St. Raphael Academy Capital Fund Committee, Pawtucket Lodge of Elks, Saint Teresa’s Parish Council, Rhode Island Heart Association, Knights of Columbus, Providence College Alumni Association, Sons of Irish Kings, U.S, Olympic Committee, Friendly Sons of St. Patrick and the board of trustees of Notre Dame Hospital. In addition, he is past president of the Rhode Island Young Democrats and the Pawtucket Country Club.

For all of his accomplishments and continuing professional and community contributions, this driven 77-year-old has been an inspiration to his wife, Joanne, and his four children: Joseph A. Jr., Kathleen, Maureen and Colleen as well as the community. We are happy to welcome Joseph A. Keough Sr. into the Pawtucket Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2018.

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Paul Mowry

Paul Clifford Mowrey’s association with Pawtucket began about 50 years ago when he was hired by the Pawtucket Redevelopment Agency as a principal planner. Since then the Oregon native has poured his heart and soul into improving the city with no fanfare or over the top recognition.

During his career in the Department of Planning and Redevelopment, Paul initiated programs to revitalize neighborhoods while preserving the historical integrity of buildings and landmarks. The retired planner has served as a volunteer for the Preservation Society of Pawtucket, the Friends of the Pawtucket Library and the Historic District Commission. A former president and office manager of the Preservation Society, Paul is still a board member of the organization. He chaired the society’s Historic House Marker Program, which involved extensive research. As a result there are distinctive bronze plaques on more than 130 homes and buildings throughout the city, symbolizing the pride owners and officials have for the historical significance of the structures.

Paul also worked with the late Elizabeth Johnson, founder of the Pawtucket History Research Center, and the Rhode Island Historic Preservation & Heritage Commission to develop eight walking tours that highlight historical points around the city. Paul has served as president and secretary of the Friends of the Pawtucket Library, and is continuing his more than 30 years of support of the group. Under his leadership, the Friends supported the library’s summer reading program for children by purchasing incentives for the participants.

The “Friends” also made donations to the library’s Caidin Fund to pay for educational performances for people of all ages and to help with the purchase of furniture. In addition to his preservation efforts, including those to save structures that personify Pawtucket’s rich industrial heritage, Paul has always treated his professional colleagues, volunteer associates and members of the public with the utmost respect. Paul is a graduate of Portland State College, and he obtained a master’s degree in planning from the University of Rhode Island. He was in the Army from 1955 to 1958, and he was a senior planner in Rhode Island Development Council’s Department of Community Affairs.

Paul Clifford Mowery has demonstrated boundless pride and passion for the City of Pawtucket by devoting an extraordinary amount of time and effort to improve his community while cherishing and celebrating its past. For all these reasons, we are proud to welcome him into the Pawtucket Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2018

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Robert Perlow

The odds of having a successful career in the entertainment business are daunting, but that didn’t deter Pawtucket native Robert Perlow from becoming the top “warm-up guy” in the television industry. The University of Rhode Island graduate also has acting and book credits to his name and other professional experience that includes some pretty interesting occupations. The son of the owners of Perlow Shoes Store in Pawtucket, Robert graduated from the former Pawtucket West High School and went on to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business.

He taught marketing and retailing at Johnson & Wales University in Providence and became a professor at Chamberlayne Junior College, a Boston-based institution that eventually merged with Mount Ida College in Newton, Massachusetts. Robert joined the Fresh Fruit Cocktail improvisational troupe in The Hub, which is where he met comedic icon Jay Leno. While Leno kept pursuing a career in comedy, Robert decided to work for a company as a cruise ship director in the Caribbean and then a tour bus guide in California. He was about to head back to sea when Marc Sotkin, another improvisational alumnus, hired him as a writer on the Laverne & Shirley show.

After Gary Marshall, the creator and producer of the show, told Robert to liven up the studio audience one night, Robert became the full-time warm-up person for the series and convinced the producers to pay him for the role. That pivotal occurrence made him Hollywood’s first full-time warm-up guy and launched a 35-year career keeping studio audiences laughing, engaged and in their seats for numerous sitcoms.

The pinnacle of his warm-up career was his tenure with The Tonight Show with Jay Leno from 1994 to 2010. In his forward to Perlow’s book The Warmup Guy, the late Alan Thicke, who starred on Growing Pains and witnessed Robert’s work, wrote: “He (Perlow) was … a walking reality show who engaged with the audience, improvising seamlessly with them until everyone is laughing, which never takes long with Bob.” Besides writing for Laverne & Shirley, Robert also wrote scripts for Taxi, Cheers, Who’s the Boss, Newhart, Night Court, Full House and Two and a Half Men. Robert has also had acting stints, including roles in People Do the Craziest Things and Newhart. He created the show Tales from Hollywood and co-authored another book, At the Sound of the Beep. Robert is residing again in the Ocean State.

He is performing a one-man show and working with the producers and writers making a documentary about his life. We are proud to induct Robert Perlow – one of our city’s shining stars -- into the Pawtucket Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2018. 

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Ray Murray

When most people think of Raymond F. Murray, they recall a man who was a true professional. His work ethic, integrity and dedication contributed to his stature as a highly-respected firefighter for 35 years with the Pawtucket Fire Department, finally retiring as Battalion Chief in 1984.

He was also an Emergency Medical Technician Instructor, pioneering practices that today are regarded as standard methods.

And yet others knew him as a loving husband to Arlene, where together they raised nine children, twenty grandchildren, along with six great-grandchildren. Raymond F. Murray was that special individual who managed to balance it all

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Dr. Christine Courtois

Discussing subjects such as incest and other forms of sexual abuse can make some people uncomfortable. However, they are topics that must be addressed, especially in the current climate surrounding the #Me Too movement. One person that was way ahead of the curve when it comes to confronting these types of issues is former Pawtucket resident Dr. Christine A. Courtois. During her 35-plus-year career, Dr. Courtois became a world-renowned psychologist dedicated to helping women and men overcome the damage caused by sexual abuse.

As a young professional, she was a founding member of the Prince Georges County Rape Crisis Center in Maryland at a time when the Women’s Rights Movement was gaining traction and women were asserting that they deserved to be treated with dignity and respect.

Dr. Courtois established and operated a private practice to treat adult survivors of incest and other forms of child abuse and neglect and developed ground-breaking treatment for post traumatic and dissociative disorders. A cum laude graduate of Rhode Island College, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in history, Christine received master’s and doctorate degrees in counseling from the University of Maryland. She completed additional training in the treatment of trauma and in couples therapy. Dr. Courtois is the primary author of eight books and dozens of journal articles, reports and reviews and the co-author of five other books.

She has received numerous awards, including the American Board of Professional Psychology 2016 Distinguished Service Award, the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation 2010 Print Media Award and 2006 Lifetime Achievement Award as well as the National Academies of Practice 1998 Distinguished Practitioner in Psychology. Besides the facility in Prince Georges County, Dr. Courtois has co-founded several other treatment centers, and she has consulted and volunteered with community, state and federal organizations. She has held numerous faculty positions around the country and is a sought-after lecturer on the national and international levels. Dr. Courtois has also served on many editorial boards and has made presentations at numerous conferences.

According to one of her colleagues, “Dr. Courtois and her body of work have directly benefitted survivors of incest and other forms of childhood abuse and neglect, students and trainees in the field of psychology, practitioners of psychology and the profession as a whole. She tirelessly gives of her time, attention and knowledge.” In her nomination letter, Phyllis Nathanson of Pawtucket, Dr. Courtois’ lifelong friend, wrote: “I nominate Chris … because her life has been lived serving both men and women in their struggle to make sense of the confusion abuse brings. Though her life and work represents a tough subject, it is important to recognize those who work to shed light on the really tough questions confronting so many.”

For all of her trailblazing work and dedication to assisting abuse victims and people coping with post-traumatic stress disorder, we are thrilled to welcome Dr. Christine A. Courtois into the Pawtucket Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2018. 

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Thomas Giblin

Thomas P. Giblin was born in 1888 at 295 Fountain Street in the Pleasant View District of Pawtucket, where he resided as a youth with his mother. He came to be known as a “New Young Genius” and he is the reason that Pawtucket is just about as closely connected with the world of wireless telegraphy as it is possible to be.

At the age of 16, while in “Pawtucket High School” after graduating with honors from Sacred Heart parochial school on Park Street, he had constructed a complete wireless telegraph set up in his home to send & receive messages with other wireless operators within a 300-mile radius. system.

This “new idea” of wireless telegraphy had attracted the attention of the greatest minds in the world, and Thomas Giblin was the only person at his age to have developed it. He went on to graduate from the Pratt Institute in New York in 1912 with a degree in electrical engineering, and by 1919, he was one of three men who came together to form the Commercial Radio Company of America. He is believed to have designed and built the first radio station in New England, broadcasting phonographic music, essentially making him Rhode Island’s first “Disc Jockey”.

In 1922 he designed and built the original broadcasting equipment for the WJAR Radio Station. He continued in his field until 1960, at the age of 72. 

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Mary Tetzner

When residents of Pawtucket use the tap water in their homes, they don’t have to worry whether that precious resource is safe to drink, cook or bathe in, thanks in large part, to the efforts and leadership of Mary E. Tetzner. When Mary became chairwoman of the Pawtucket Water Supply Board soon after her appointment to the body in 1998, the city was struggling to provide its residents with safe water.

The water treatment plant was just about obsolete as was an aging distribution system that included miles upon miles of decaying pipes. Many officials wanted to repair the water system, but Mary knew a BandAid approach would only lead to more problems and frustrating service interruptions that consumers should not have to tolerate. So she worked with the chief engineer of the Pawtucket Water Supply Board and formulated a plan to construct a stateof-the-art treatment plant and rehabilitate 204 miles of pipes.

Mary and the chief engineer convinced municipal leaders to implement the multi-million dollar plan and expertly navigated the twists and turns inherent in such projects, including controversy about awarding the contract for construction of the treatment plan. In addition, Mary ensured sufficient financing for the project by having the water district’s debt restructured and securing a $70 million loan from the state’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund. The United States Environmental Protection Agency cited Mary and the revitalization project in September 2008 in a publication titled “Pawtucket, Rhode Island: A Drinking Water Success Story.” Besides benefitting residents, completion of the treatment plant in 2008 has sparked some economic development in the city with the opening of several micro-breweries and the Isle Brewers Guild.

The thousands of hours Mary poured into serving as a volunteer on the Pawtucket Water Supply Board is just one example of her commitment to her native city. She has held several leadership roles for the St. Teresa of the Child Jesus Parish and the Cub and Boy Scouts. Her significant contributions to Scouting were recognized when she was awarded the Boy Scouts of America Blackstone Valley District Den Leader of the Year Award. Mary has also had a distinguished career in the education field for more than 37 years. She has worked as a teacher and administrator for both public and parochial schools and is currently serving as principal of St. Cecilia’s Elementary School in Pawtucket.

For all Mary E. Tetzner has done to improve the quality of life in Pawtucket and for the positive impact she has had on the lives of children through Scouting and education, we are proud to welcome her into the Pawtucket Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2018; and we are so happy she can join her father Thomas J. Duffy, a 2000 inductee, in the Hall. 


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