Every year, East Greenwich High School (and before that, the East Greenwich Academy) graduate a class of students who go out to make their way in the world. The EGHS Wall of Honor was established to recognize those graduates who contributions since high school have left a mark on the wider world – this year, as close by as Fire Station One on Main Street and as far away as a slum in Kenya.
The ceremony takes place Wednesday, April 30, in the auditorium at the high school. Here are brief profiles of a few of this year’s honorees:
Chris Hurd, who graduated from East Greenwich High School in 1977, was known in high school as an exceptional athlete, particularly in baseball. He lettered in football, basketball and baseball, and was on the basketball team when it captured the state championship. He went to Wake Forest University on a baseball scholarship and there led the team in hitting. He graduated cum laude in business.
Back in Rhode Island, he joined the family auto sales company is sales. By 1990, he was president of Hurd Automall in Johnston, a position he still holds. During his tenure, the company has nearly tripled in size and Hurd has earned the Time Dealer of the Year Award for Rhode Island (in 2011), the Rhode Island Family Business of the Year Award from Bryant College (in 1995), and the Blue Chip Enterprise Award from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (in 1994).
Hurd followed his father and grandfather in the business, something he’s proud of but also something that keeps him on his toes.
“It’s been a real honor to carry the ball,” he said. “My grandfather handed it down and it got handed to me and I’ve been running ever since.”
Hurd has served on the boards of a number of agencies and panels, including the Greater Providence YMCA, Rhode Island Family Shelter, Warwick Retirement Board and the state Auto Collision Repair Licensing Advisory Board. He has supported many nonprofits over the years, including Toys for Tots, food banks, junior achievement and many, many others but, perhaps reflecting his early years, the title he’s most proud of is “coach.”
“I can’t think of a more endearing title for someone than to call him “coach,” Hurd said. “I got into coaching and it was probably one of the best things I’ve done.”
Being named to the EGHS Wall of Honor is an “awesome honor,” he said. “I just think it’s really neat that someone’s gone to the effort to reach out to past students.”
About Wall of Honor organizer Bruce Mastraccio, Hurd said, “I give him a lot of credit. He bleeds crimson. He’s a real cheerleader for East Greenwich. Every town should be so lucky.
Fred Miller, EG Academy Class of 1917, is named to the Wall of Honor posthumously. If you live on Tillinghast Road, perhaps you recognize his name – a short street off of Tillinghast bears it. That’s because Miller’s another one of those people who gave their all, plus more, to their hometown.
He joined the East Greenwich Fire District as a volunteer in 1921, staying for 56 years, 41 of those as chief. Along the way, Miller served as president of the Rhode Island Association of Fire Chiefs, and was a member of both the international and New England chapters. He also developed a program for new (read: green) recruits. He did all this for the EG Fire District while working full-time at Bostitch as a toolmaker.
He played for both the Townie football and baseball teams and, legend has it, he swam the distance between Rocky Point and Warren – five miles – in 55 minutes.
Miller never had sons, but he coached baseball in EG for 20 years. Among his honors, he served on the Governor’s Youth Council, was inducted to the East Greenwich Athletic Hall of Fame, was EG Rotary’s Man of the Year in 1971 and earned the Knights of Columbus Certificate of Merit in 1976.
Legend has it, 700 people attended his EG Fire District retirement party.
Appreciation Award winners this year are Tom Joyce and Beth Cauley. These are awards to non-East Greenwich graduates whose contribution to the town is significant.
For Joyce, that commitment started when he fell in love with an East Greenwich gal while serving with the Marines at Quonset. He abandoned his beloved Pittsburgh to make a life for himself in East Greenwich. The EGPD was waiting.
During the early years, he played quarterback for the EG Townies football team (he’d played for the Quonset Point NAS team while still in the Marines). He worked for the police for 48 years, advancing to the rank of lieutenant. Joyce made his mark as the town’s first juvenile officer. As such, he served as liaison to the town’s Juvenile Hearing Board. He also worked at Safety Town for many years, teaching kindergarten-bound youngsters about the police and about making safe choices. Joyce also served as a volunteer for the town’s Friday night Teen Center for more than 20 years.
Beth Cauley has only been school principal at Hanaford since 2011 but she’s made a big impact. A graduate of Rhode Island College, she started her teaching career in Pawtucket. While teaching at Nathanael Greene Elementary, Cauley created “Difference Makers,” an organization to help student see their own worth and give back to the community. At Hanaford, Cauley has continued those efforts. She has helped her students find creative ways to give back to the community, including the “Souper Bowl” Challenge, a Toy-Book-Can drive, Thanksgiving food drives, coat and mitten drives, and book-and-DVD drives for the VA hospital.