Thank you, New London County
To take a quote from that great Sam Cook song A Change Is Gonna Come: "It's been a long time coming but a change is gonna come." Now at 73 plus years, the time for change for me has come. Last January, while having the evening meal with my wife Gwen and son Lonnie III, they informed me that although they love me dearly, if I am still working on my 74th birthday in February of 2022 that I would have the privilege of visiting them elsewhere. Not because they were tired of me or some other problem but because it is time for me to enjoy some of the things I have worked so long and hard to accomplish. Even after a bit of thought I knew then as I know now, they are right, so I am now ending this chapter of my life and happily looking forward to starting another.
But before I fade into the sunset, I have a few things I not only want to say but I feel for me personally need to be said. The first thing I want to say is thanks. As my father and mother would often ask my sister and me: "Who makes it through life without someone's help?" And the answer was always, nobody, because to get through life at some point someone helps you whether you see it, know it or acknowledge it. We are all at some point in our lives given a hand. So I say, thank you to the people of New London County for their hand in giving me the honor and privilege of representing them as one of your Senior Assistant State's Attorneys. Thanks also to those of you who extended a hand or even just a smile in making my life and career such a great one. I wish I could include a list to mention all of you by name but I believe the list would be much to long for reading. But to keep it brief I will mention a few. I certainly want to say thank you to and for my mom and dad for being such wonderful and loving parents. Thanks for teachers like Sister Carmelita, my sixth-grade teacher who made such an impact that we still talk daily on the phone (she's now 93, a retired nun, and still lives in Mississippi). Thanks for a group of far-sighted people like Mrs. Pat Hendel, Mr. Bill Cibes, Prof. Morris Minor, Prof. Ruby Turner Morris, Prof. Barkley Hendricks, Mrs. Marsha Pond and others at Connecticut College who implemented or participated in some fashion in the Return to College program for older adults who were not only seeking, but through this RTC program, could actually obtain a college education. To people like Mr. Milroy (Ed) Jordon, Attorney Thomas McGarry, Mr. Jim Hamel, Mr. Linwood Bland, Rev. Wade Hyslop, Attorney Mel Scott, Attorney Mathew Shafner and Judge Robert Martin who went out of their way to always encourage a young man with a dream of being a lawyer — ME — to believe not that it could happen but that it would happen. State's Attorney Robert Satti and Supervising Assistant State's Attorney J. Vincent (Vinnie) Houser who made it possible for a first-year law student to intern in the State's Attorney's Office where I could gain the hands-on experience that I would use for the rest of my legal career.
To my wife and son a very special thanks for letting me be me and unselfishly sharing me with so many of those who sought out my help for some plumbing, electrical, building, or car problem or even a bit of advice. For also encouraging me when I indulged in any one of my hobbies, be it spending an early morning in the greenhouse or woodshop before work, or working on a car late into the night.
A side note as to how things can work: I attended law school in Hartford which required driving from New London to Hartford daily for three years. Well, I didn't, as some of my fellow classmates did, have well-off parents, or rich aunts and uncles to lend a hand. But as it turned out I did have "Three Mad Men" who owned a junk yard (Yale's) in Montville who basically allowed me to keep my old cars running through their largess. A stationery store known as Solomon's, which was owned by the Rip and Lenora Levin, always somehow made sure I had whatever legal pads and pens I needed. Or after graduation when I went to the Studio 33 Frame shop to pick up my Law School Diploma that I had left for framing and it was placed in my hand with a note attached instead of a bill; the note said congratulations we are all so proud of you. And this list too could go on as well. But what this list would really represent is New London. A city which if you cut through some of the not so very kind things that are all too often said about it, it's really a great place to live.
Wow, how time has really flown by. In September of 1952 I was 4 years old living with my parents in my hometown of Greenville, Mississippi. School was starting but being only 4, I was too young to attend, and my parents often would tell the story about how devastated I was because I was too young to attend school but wanted to so very badly that a family friend who taught kindergarten at what was called the Negro Normal School took pity and allowed me to sit in as an unofficial member of her kindergarten class. This was the start of my quest for learning in the formal sense — a pursuit for knowledge that I hope never ends. I quote Mahatma Gandhi: "Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever." So please do not look for me in the whirlwind because I will be in school.
As I said at the beginning of this, that change has come and it's my time to now bow out gracefully. So again to all I give my most heartfelt thanks. And may we all live happily ever after.
The writer is a retired New London County prosecutor.