Their resumes include lines like U.S. Attorney, Nobel Peace Prize winner and longtime school nurse.
Their careers have taken them to places like Florida and the Middle East, or no farther than the state of Rhode Island.
The East Greenwich High School Wall of Honor will grow by seven honorees when this year’s induction ceremony is held April 14 at 6 p.m. at the high school.
This year’s inductees:
Robert D, Brown (deceased), Class of 1936 (East Greenwich Academy).
Robert C. Corrente, Class of 1974.
Kenneth F. Ford, Class of 1973.
Glenn H. King, Class of 1946.
Robert S. Leyden (deceased), Class of 1954.
Alan E. Para, Class of 1966.
Mary Lou Sicco, Class of 1965.
Also that evening, two volunteers will he honored with Appreciation Awards at the ceremony, which will be followed by refreshments in the school cafeteria.
The Wall of Honor was established in the fall of 2007 to honor distinguished East Greenwich High graduates.
The honorees will be memorialized on 12-by-20-inch plaques on the Wall of Honor, and will also receive individual plaques.
A five-member nomination committee chooses each year’s honorees. To be eligible, award recipients must be graduates of East Greenwich High or have left the school under extenuating circumstances (i.e., war).
This year’s nomination committee consists of Bruce Mastracchio, Bob Houghtaling, Carl Hoyer, Janet Joyce and Michael Podraza.
The Wall of Honor is sponsored by Prudential Gammons Realty of East Greenwich.
Profiles of the honorees:
Robert D. Brown ‘36
Brown, who attended the former East Greenwich Academy, was a World War II hero who went on to a diverse career in the business world.
He served as Student Council president, particpated in the Gym Club, and did some postgraduate study at the academy, recalls Paul Brown, one of his three sons, who now lives in Kansas and will accept his father’s award. He then attended Bryant College and eventually graduated from the University of Rhode Island.
As a member of the Army Air Corps during World War II, Brown received the Distinguished Flying Cross and seven Air Medals while piloting Flying Fortresses in Europe. He rose to the rank of major.
After the war, he served vice president and general manager of Remington Rand, an office machines manufacturer; chairman and chief executive officer of Rawlings Sporting Goods Company; and chairman and CEO of Butler Industries, a display fixtures manufacturer.
He died at his home in Summit, N.J., at the age of 54 in 1972.
Robert C. Corrente ‘74
Corrente served as U.S. Attorney for Rhode Island from 2004 to 2009.
“It was a lot of fun and a lot of work. I happened to go through during a golden age of the faculty,” Corrente says of his high school days. Among the teachers he remembers most were Marion Dillon, Latin; Joe Laterra and Joe Ferretti, science; and Patricia Carlson, English.
He also served as co-captain of the hockey team, coached by Carl Swanson, in his senior year.
“He was a great influence on me,” Corrente remembers.
He graduated from Dartmouth College, where he served as editor of The Tower, the school’s literary magazine, in 1978, and also won two school writing awards.
Corrente earned his law degree from New York University in 1981, and practiced in several Providence law firms, including as a partner in his own firm for 10 years. He also served as an assistant town solicitor in East Greenwich and Barrington.
In 1996, he was appointed by the R.I. Supreme Court to its Ethics Advisory Panel, and became its chairman in 2000. He was also appointed by Gov. Lincoln Almond to the state Judicial Nominating Commission, which he later chaired.
Corrente was nominated by President George W. Bush in 2004 as U.S. Attorney for the state, and was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate. His term as the state’s top federal prosecutor was highlighted by Operation Dollar Bill, which resulted in the convictions of several state legislators.
Corrente is currently back in private practice with Burns and Levinson, of Providence and Boston. He sits on several nonprofit organization boards, has coached youth hockey, and served last year as chairman of the Moderate Party of Rhode Island.
Kenneth F. Ford ‘73
Ford is the founder and chief exeutive officer of the Institute for Human & Machine Cognition, a nonprofit research institute in Pensacola, Fla., and chairman of the NASA Advisory Council.
He was a varsity wrestler at East Greenwich High, and remembers two faculty members in particular.
“In terms of memorable teachers, Patricia Belden stands out for me. Arrhur Kershaw stood out as a coach and builder of young men’s character. In many ways, he was the best teacher of all, as his lessons have lasted,” Ford says.
The recipient of a doctorate degree in computer science from Tulane University in New Orleans, he has written or co-written six books and hundreds of academic papers.
Ford founded the IHMC, which explores technology designed to expand humans’ cognitive abilities, in 1999 after helping to develop and direct NASA’s Center of Excellence in Information Technology in California. That year, he was awarded the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal.
In 2002, he was nominated by President George W. Bush to serve on the National Science Board, and was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate. He was appointed to the NASA Advisory Council in 2007 and named its chairman the next year.
Last August, Ford received the Distinguished Public Service Medal, NASA’s highest honor.
He is the Emeritus Editor in Chief of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence/MIT Press, and is an AAAI Fellow. His honors include the Doctor Honoris Causas from the University of Bordeaux in 2005 and the 2008 Robert S. Englemore Memorial Award for his work in artificial intelligence. He has also received the Pensacola Area Chamber of Commerce Business Leader of the Year award.
Glenn H. King ‘47
King was manager of missile defense systems at the U.S. Army’s Redstone Arsenal in Alabama, and worked with its major missile systems for 30 years. He now lives in retirement in Tennessee.
He was part of the first class that went all the way through East Greenwich High School, although he actually completed his schooling before his classmates through correspondence courses after joining the U.S. Marines.
During his school days, he was one of the town’s junior firefighters, who (with parents’ signed permission) would get to leave class when the siren rang to go fight fires.
“When the siren sounded, the boys would jump out, run down the steps or leap out the windows. Two minutes later we were off to fight the fire,” says King, who also participated in football and gymnastics, coached by Nick Carcieri, for whom the school’s football is named.
“We were really good in gymnastics because of Coach Carcieri, and he recruited me for football,” King says.
He was also, at the time, the nation’s youngest Eagle Scout.
After his Marines service, which included a stint in the presidential honor guard,he graduated with an education degree from the University of Florida in 1954. He then taught in Jacksonville schools and at the city’s Naval Air Station.
Among the missile defense systems he managed in the Army were the Nike Hercules, Hawk, Stinger, Redeye, and finally the Patriot during the Persian Gulf Conflict.
These days, King is active in his church, the Elks and Scouting, in which he has received a Boy Scout Meritorious Service Award. For the past 10 years, he has been a district youth protection officer, teaching courses on combatting child molestation and child abuse.
Robert S. Leyden ‘54
Leyden, who died in 2007 at age 72, supervised construction for many large companies throughout the country, and ran Green Acres Christmas Tree Farm for 50 years.
His high school years included football, basketball, golf, terms on the Student Council and as class vice-president, Drama Club, Glee Club, and the R.I. Student Council, remembers his wife, Joan Leyden, who will arrive from Florida to accept his plaque.
“We lived in East Greenwich all our lives, and we would’ve been very pleased,” she said.
After high school, he became a apprentice cabinetmaker with William Bloom & Son in East Providence, rising in the trade to become a director of site operations for construction of retail chain stores and other buildings.
The most famous project Leyden managed was the construction of Windows on the World, the restaurant which opened in 1976 at the top of the North Tower at the World Trade Center in New York City. It was destroyed by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
“He did big jobs, but he would be home every weekend,” Joan Leyden says.
He was involved in numerous civic ventures in both East Greenwich and Naples, Fla., where he spent much time in his later years. He was an officer in the East Greenwich Lions Club, Jaycees, Friendly Sons of St. Patrick and Chamber of Commerce, and also won the Baris Award for public speaking at a state Jaycees convention. He was also one of the founders of the East Greenwich Swim Club.
In Florida, he was a member of Irish-American Club of Naples, the state’s largest. A motorcycle race, the Robert Leyden Memorial Enduro, is named after him.
He was also a Life Scout.
Alan E. Para ‘66
Para is a graduate of the U.S. Navel Academy and retired Navy pilot, and was a member of the United Nations peacekeeping force that won the 1988 Nobel Peace Prize.
“What a neat town East Greenwich was back then! I enjoyed going to a school that was fairly small. It was like a ‘Leave It to Beaver’ episode,” says Para, who lives in Oklahoma but returns here twice a year and cites English teacher Doris Roderick as a major influence.
He was also a baseball star, earning 1966 All-State honors as the Avengers’ center fielder.
Para became a helicopter pilot, flying off ships in the North Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. He eventually joined the Atlantic Fleet command, serving as nuclear weapons officer.
He spent 1988 as a U.N. peacekeeper in Lebanon. That year, the Nobel Peace Prize recognized U.N. peacekeeping forces around the world.
“When I retired from the Navy, I put it on my resume. I sent eight resumes, and got eight interviews,” Para says.
He later worked as an anti-submarine warfare analyst for Summit Research, a Navy contractor.
Currently, Para collects and sells military memorabilia, specializing in the Revolutionary War era. He keeps a 1770 British war cannon in his front yard, and fires it on New Year’s Eve. Her is also an avid trout and fly fisherman.
Mary Lou Sicco ‘65
Sicco was her class valedictorian and a longtime nurse in East Greenwich schools.
“I had some wonderful role models, and they set rigorous educational standards. We kind of respected and supported one another,” she says of her high school days.
English teacher Doris Roderick, Math Department chairman Sam Parente and Math Department chairman Frank Hand were the teachers she remembers most.
“Anyone you talk to in our era would say they were the people that really contributed to our school,” says Sicco, who also won the Daughters of American Revolution Good Citizen Award.
She graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 1969 with a bachelor’s degree in nursing and summa cum laude honors, ranking eighth in a class of approximately 2,000. She became a registered nurse that October, and worked at Kent County Memorial Hospital for 12 years as an intensive care nurse.
Ficco’s interest in coronary care and community health planning led her to earn a master’s degree at Rhode Island College in 1986,
She also became a health educator at Cole Middle School, eventually serving the East Greenwich School District as a nurse-teacher for 26 years in all its schools, along with Our Lady of Mercy Elementary School. She later became an adjunct professor of clinical nursing at Community College of Rhode Island.
Ficco retired from the local district in 2009, but still serves as a ling-term subustitute teacher in Johnston and substitute in Warwick.
She is still a member of the R.I. School Nurse-Teachers Association and the Children’s Leukemia-Lymphoma Association of R.I.
“I’m happy to give back to East Greenwich children over so many years,” says Sicco.