PAWTUCKET — Six individuals who made a positive difference in the city over the years were inducted Friday night into the 2011 Pawtucket Hall of Fame. Also honored was a deceased Civil War veteran, Capt. Levi Tower, who was chosen as this year's historical inductee.
This was the 20th annual dinner and induction ceremony for the Pawtucket Hall of Fame, which was founded in 1986 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Pawtucket as a city. According to its founders, the Hall of Fame was established “for the purpose of spotlighting the contributions of people whose efforts, in any line of endeavor, have added to the heritage of our city.” Nominations to the Hall are accepted year-round and are chosen by a Hall of Fame Committee.
In what was a first for the Hall of Fame, Joan C. Doyle, wife of former Mayor James Doyle, and Stanley P. Lachut Jr. were voted into the Hall together because of their longtime partnership in spearheading food and clothing drives and in advocating for those less fortunate.
The committee noted that while this is also the first time that one of Pawtucket's first ladies has been voted into the Hall, Joan Doyle was actually being honored for the volunteer work that she and Lachut started over 25 years ago while working together at Shea High School. What began in the 1980s as an effort to help provide food, winter clothing and public advocacy for students at Shea High grew into an annual holiday food basket program that has provided over 150 food baskets to city residents in need.
Additionally, Doyle and Lachut provided trips to New York City for youngsters who would not otherwise have had a chance to go and helped provide ongoing support for the family of a Shea High student who was left caring for her five younger siblings after their mother passed away. Doyle and Lachut advocated for and helped raise funds needed for the family's education.
Another individual recognized for helping those less fortunate was Raymond M. Gannon, who spent 18 years working with the late Ernie Marot in the operation of the Pawtucket Soup Kitchen and serving on its Board of Directors.
Gannon's long history of public service dates back to the 1960s when he was appointed to the city's Planning Board, and later the Blackstone Valley Sewer Commission and the Zoning Board in the 1970s. In 1980, he retired from a 35-year sales career to assume the position of Assistant Director of Public Housing where he was recognized for working with law enforcement to reduce crime and improve public safety in the city's public housing units.
Gannon was later reappointed to the Zoning Board and still serves as vice chairman. He is also active in the Barton Street Youth Center and serves on the Division of Motor Vehicles Medical Review Board.
Likewise, inductee Gordon M. Gould also possesses a long resume of volunteerism and public service, particularly having to do with improving the quality of life for Pawtucket's youth through sports.
Gould was long involved with a variety of sports leagues, including over 30 years with the Darlington Braves Pop Warner Football organization, and stints with the Darlington National Little League, Darlington American Little League, Babe Ruth League and sponsorship of the Pine View Little League. He also served as Cub Master and Webelos leader for Pack 28, St. Cecelia's Church.
Gould also volunteered at a variety of charitable, fraternal and other organizations, including the Lefoyer Club, Gatchell Post 306, V.F.W., the Fraternal Order of Police Association—Lodge 4, the Knights of Columbus Council 12613 and St. Cecelia's Parish.
He was also keenly involved in the city's political process, serving as treasurer of the Democratic City Committee and vice-chair of the 1st Ward Committee. He also spent four years on the Parks Commission and nine years on the Pawtucket School Committee.
Another name familiar to most Pawtucket residents is inductee George L. Kelley III, the city's former police chief. From a career that began in the 1970s, Kelley rose through the ranks, working in almost every division within the police department before being named as chief of police in 1999.
Kelley is credited with bringing in grant money to provide the latest training and equipment to the Police Department, and implementing a highly respected Special Response Team. He is acknowledged to have built rapport and support from residents of all ages by putting officers on bike patrols and inside schools and from working in partnership with a wide variety of social service organizations, youth programs and neighborhood associations.
Under Kelley's watch, the Pawtucket Police Department earned national accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. He was also involved with a number of law enforcement organizations and was the first person ever elected by both the Rhode Island Police Chiefs Association and the New England Association of Chiefs of Police to be president in the same year.
An inductee honored for helping to bring energy and enthusiasm back to Pawtucket, particularly when it comes to the downtown arts scene, is Patricia S. Zacks. A talented photographer and owner of The Camera Werks on Hope Street, Zacks has long been mentoring budding photographers and artists of all ages.
Zacks has been involved in the highly successful Pawtucket Arts Festival since its inception and has served as programming chairperson for the past five years. Additionally, she runs the annual photo contest which allows amateur photographers to showcase their work as part of the arts festival.
Zacks is also responsible for creating the Pawtucket Arts Collaborative, a group that started with 25 artists in 2000 and now has grown to 160 members who come together to advocate for and promote the arts. She served as president of the Pawtucket Arts Collaborative from 2000 to 2007, was named president emeritus, and still remains on the organization's board of directors.
Additionally, Zacks has been involved with the Jacqueline M. Walsh School for the Performing and Visual Arts, the Preservation Society of Pawtucket, Winter Wonderland, and a variety of other organizations.
This year's historical inductee was the late Capt. Levi Tower, a Pawtucket native and Civil War veteran who helped form a Rhode Island Militia unit called the Pawtucket Light Guard. He was credited with making the ultimate sacrifice during the first Battle of Bull Run in 1861.