Sharing their talents, gifts
CANTON – Another five graduates from Canton High joined 41 classmates in the Canton High Wall of Fame on Friday night.
The late Kenneth H. Bristol (Class of 1935), Paul F. Volovski (1954), Marjory Olson Harmon (1967), Roger M. Coutu (1978) and Steven M. Carter (1985) were honored for their character, leadership and positive contributions to the community in a reception and dinner in the Canton Middle School cafeteria.
The common theme of the evening was contributing to the community and all five of the men and women honored serve their communities in some way. Volovski urged the students and family members to serve their communities. “Every board is looking for somebody,” he said. “Come and help us. Whatever your talent, your education, we can find a way for you to help.”
Kenneth H. Bristol, Class of 1935
Kenneth was a builder, architect who built and renovated many homes in the greater Hartford area. Graduating during the Depression didn’t allow Bristol the opportunity to attend college. But he didn’t let that stop him. “He was a self-made man,” his oldest daughter Joan B. Finney said. “He taught himself architecture.” Bristol also learned to perform electrical and plumbing work and draw up blueprints for homes and developments.
He learned about building from his father, Howard, helping him build the family home room by room on the site now occupied by the Collinsville Saving Society at the foot of Bristol Drive. “He was very capable of fixing and repairing anything,” Finney said.
Not only did he build over 50 homes but he became a developer. Kenneth constructed and developed Bristol Drive, Juniper Drive and Washburn Road along with many of the homes on those streets. In 1962, he designed and built the town’s gazebo bandstand that still stands today across from the Gallery on the Green. He helped develop the old Canton swimming pool just off Atwater Road that was popular in the 1960s and early 1970s.
He was president of the Lion’s Club and helped to create and develop the Canton Ski Club that carved out downhill skiing trails on the side of Sweetheart Mountain overlooking Collinsville. In 1969, he helped coordinate the move of the Trinity Episcopal Church from its home at the corner of Route 179 and Maple Avenue to its current home on River Road.
Kenneth also spent time as the building inspector in town. He enjoyed taking his children and their friends to drive-in movies and down to the river, Finney recalled. “The town of Canton was his focus,” Finney said. “He was modest and shy. He was never looking for a pat on the back.” Kenneth died in 1979 at the age of 62.
Paul F. Volovski, Class of 1954
Paul found a role model at Canton High in Nick Soloway, the industrial arts teacher in the school and football coach. Soloway helped convince Paul attend college.
Paul attended Central Connecticut State and spent 25 years at The Gilbert School in Winsted helping students grow as he taught them metal and woodworking arts. He also was a football coach with the Yellowjackets but he was sad to be on the opposing sideline of a 48-0 win by Gilbert in 1964, the final game before Canton shut down its football program for nearly 45 years due to lack of players.
Paul is currently the building inspector in the town of New Hartford and has been for many years. Paul has volunteered for several municipal boards in Canton and the area. He has served as chairman of the Zoning Board of Appeals, Board of Assessment Appeals and the Farmington Valley Health District. He has been part of two school building committees and the Community Center and Library renovation committee. He has been a volunteer fireman and was fire chief in Canton for eight years.
“Our family has always being contributing,” he said. “It’s normal to get active (in the town) and stay active.”
Marjory Olson Harmon, Class of 1967
To Marjory Harmon, volunteering to help is simply another way to help and assist her family, neighbors and friends and stay involved in the town she loves.
Since her graduation from Canton High, Marjory has served the town as an emergency medical technician (EMT), served as a volunteer firefighter, served on the Board of Directors of the Canton Historical Society, on the Sam Collins Day organizing committee, as secretary with the Canton Chamber of Commerce and as a volunteer with Gifts of Love.
Marjory and her husband, Gordon, raised a family in town and she has operated a travel agency in Canton for several years. She is proud of the Wall of Fame honor but smiles modestly about it. She said she frequently agrees to help out and then recruits her friends to assist her.
“We have a lot of lunches,” she joked. She got a little more serious and said, “I just feel like I need to give back. There was a time when I needed help and they were there.”
Roger M. Coutu, Class of 1978
Literally the big man on campus in high school at six-foot-six, Roger helped Canton win its first state championship in boys basketball in 50 years in 1978. He hasn’t stopped giving back to the school or his town.
The owner of Jeannie Fundraising in New Hartford, he has donated countless boxes of fundraising materials to the Cherry Brook Fair, church fairs, the town fishing derby and other school organizations in town.
He volunteered his time as a girls soccer and girls basketball coach in youth organizations in town. With Jeannette Getz, Roger helped reboot Canton’s youth girls basketball program.
He wants his two daughters to have the same outstanding experience he had growing up in Canton. “What I’ve done pales in comparison to what the town did for me,” he said.
Roger credited former boys basketball coach Bill Mudano for showing him the value of passion. “He oozed passion with everything he did,” Coutu said. “I got my passion from him.” Roger said that former soccer and baseball coach Byron McKusick taught him the value of teamwork. “They’re lessons that many of us took to be great successes in life.”
Roger is proud to be raising his family in Canton with his wife, Mary, just as his parents did. “You look at the kids Canton produces,” he said. “They are well-rounded kids. This type of town allows them to try different things.”
Roger joins his sister, Michelle, in the Wall of Fame.
Steven M. Carter, Class of 1985
Steve is the director of golf at the Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio and has worked in golf since his graduation from Canton High and Northeastern University. Firestone CC has hosted professional tournaments for 55 consecutive years and currently hosts the World Golf Championships with the top 70 golfers in the world – an event that golf legend Tiger Woods has won seven years in a row.
Steve spent 15 years at the Ipswich Country Club on the North Shore of Boston and is a member of the ClubCorp’s National Golf Committee. ClubCorp owns nearly 170 golf courses, country clubs, private businesses and sports clubs. Steve and another golf pro recently had the opportunity to write the standards of operations and training that all ClubCorp golf pros must go through.
In memory of his grandfather Andrew Charron, Steve has supported the Alzheimer’s Association over the past 10 years through a variety of activities. In Ohio, he assists fundraising at his children’s school.
When he can, he provides golf gear to the Canton High team and arranges internships for interested students. He has fond memories of the school.
“Canton High provided me with a safe, friendly environment to learn,” he said. “I met life-long friends and developed a strong sense of self motivation. For me, Canton was the type of school that ‘you got out of it- what you put into it.’ The people that chose to work hard succeeded.
“If you look at the diverse career paths my brothers and myself chose, you see the greatness of Canton High School,” he said. “The school provided us each with what we needed to succeed but did not funnel us into one specific career path. The teachers and activities at Canton gave us all the opportunity to develop into who we were.”
Steven’s brother Rich is an senior executive with Columbia Management, an investment firm in New York City; Donald is a singer with the Washington National Opera and Phil is a managing director of Bain Capital, an investment firm in Boston.