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The article below is from the Norwich Bulletin, my real hometown paper. I know I quote the New London Day more than ever, but once in awhile I do read this paper online too.
I am a Norwich girl, and my family was very involved in the community, as was my grandparents. I remember these men that are in the article, and as a young girl seriously thought they ran the City of Norwich. It used to remind me of, "A Wonderful Life" and them being the Mr. Potter and the rest of us like the Savings and Loan.
It was never that bad, but the point was the men mentioned in this article really only wanted what they considered the best for Norwich. They gave up their time, and time with their families to go to meetings and make a difference.
My stepfather was on the City Council along with my Uncle, and my mom was involved in the Republican Town Committee, and Rose Arts Festival. So, when I read this it brought back so many memories. I do love to read Bill Stanley and how he captures all the different times in Norwich, he is the true historian to Norwich.
By BILL STANLEY
For The Norwich Bulletin
Posted Jan 24, 2009 @ 11:12 PM
Once upon a time, my wife, Peggy, and I were attending an awards banquet at the old Sheraton Hotel. During the program, the master of ceremonies wanted to recognize two men for a successful civic project.
He pointed to philanthropist and former electrical contractor, Bill O’Neil, and said this town should be grateful for Bill, and then he looked to Stanley Israelite and continued the sentence with Stanley. He was recognizing Bill O’Neil and Stanley Israelite, but to the crowd, the only words they heard were, “This project wouldn’t have happened without Bill Stanley.”
That night, as we got our coats, a half dozen or more people patted me on the back and told me, “Good work,” when, in fact, I hadn’t done anything.
But fate is often like that. Stanley Israelite and Bill Stanley have been around in this town for more years than we want to remember. In fact, we started very much alike. He, with his father, operated a jewelry store on Main Street. I, with my mother, operated a gift and photo shop on Franklin Street.
In time, Stan Israelite would move to community service with the Chamber of Commerce; later, with the Norwich Community Development Corp., create Norwich’s Industrial Park, and go on to be the chief of staff for U.S. Sen. Christopher Dodd.
I would close the gift shop, become a stockbroker, later become state senator for the region, then a host of community projects, from developing Cambridge Estates and the creation of St. Jude Common for the frail elderly.
I headed a host of charitable fundraisers and served on the board of The William W. Backus Hospital and the Southeastern Connecticut Water Authority. Oh, yes, and published seven books and have been writing a column for some 18 years for the Sunday Bulletin.
Last week, the Norwich Rotary presented both Stanleys — myself and Stanley Israelite — with the Paul Harris Service Beyond Self Award. In the presentation, it was pointed out that Stanley Israelite and Bill Stanley had worked for years to improve Norwich. To the casual listener, one might have concluded they worked together as a team, but nothing could be further from the truth. Stan Israelite and Bill Stanley both fought for what they believed was the good of Norwich’s future.
Israelite, in accepting Rotary’s highest honor, pointed out that he and Bill Stanley were actual combatants and were on opposite sides of most local issues. I can tell you, the contest was a lot more complicated than just Bill Stanley and Stanley Israelite.
In the 1950s and 1960s, there was a colorful cast of characters — most of them now gone — who made Norwich a very interesting and politically active place.
There was a young, energetic attorney who came to town in the 1950s named Milton Jacobson. Like Stan Israelite, he became very active in community service. The two of them teamed up and, working with then City Council President Eugene Sullivan, created Norwich’s Community Development Corporation.
For Israelite, Jacobson and Sullivan, it was a labor of love. They succeeded in purchasing land from Herman Sharps in Yantic and developed a successful industrial park.
Bill Stanley, after the 1963 Spaulding Pond flood, headed the fund drive to re-establish the 37 businesses that were wiped out during the flood and later ran the most successful United Fund campaign, which was credited with saving the United Fund in Eastern Connecticut.
Legendary Democratic Town Chairman Philip Shannon saw in me a candidate for state senator. With his backing, and a series of local primaries, we were successful in 1966 in winning the state Senate for Norwich and eight surrounding towns.
The political wars, as they were known, raged between Shannon and myself on the one hand, and Stan Israelite, Milt Jacobson and Eugene Sullivan on the other. You know, looking back, our fights were intense and very often front page news, but at this moment, I can’t remember the details of a single one. Maybe they weren’t so important after all.
Split the council
The strange thing about the political alliance was it split the Norwich City Council. The president, Gene Sullivan, lined up with Israelite and Jacobson. The Democratic majority, including Arthur Sylvia, Jake Fusaro, Jim Quarto, John Ryan, Stanley Taraskiewicz and Dick Ziff joined forces with Phil Shannon and me.
Stanley Israelite had a secret weapon, which he told the Rotarians about last Wednesday. When the battle between us became too hot and public, he would always contact Monsignor Joseph King, who was then pastor at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and I would get an unexpected visit from monsignor. I think his job, as Israelite once said, was to put Stanley — Bill Stanley, that is — back in his cage. We wondered aloud last Wednesday if the good monsignor, now in Heaven, would be looking down in disbelief as Stanley Israelite and Bill Stanley shared the honors of the Norwich Rotary.
If he was a spectator, he would certainly be smiling in disbelief.
Today, the Norwich Industrial Park is known as the Stanley Israelite Business Park. The two of us seem to be walking toward the sunset in the late afternoon of our lives having done just about all we can for the city we love and her people.
While neither of us are Rotarians, we both thank this wonderful public service-oriented group for its recognition. Coming from Rotary, it means more than they can possibly know for both Stanley Israelite and myself.