Founder’s Day, a day to honor Isaiah V. Williamson and his legacy, featured a keynote address by trustee John Stuckey and the bestowing of two board of trustee awards and two Sons of the American Revolution awards.
In place of a traditional address, Stuckey sat on a chair on the stage of the Clara Schrenk Memorial Chapel and answered questions posed by chaplain Mark Specht 7W7, who was seated beside him, on the role of faith at Williamson.
Asked how he came to get involved with Williamson Stuckey, the son of former trustee Willard Stuckey 4W7, said he spent much time on campus as a youth and his father spoke of the school often. The elder Stuckey had dreamed for years of endowing a chaplaincy at Williamson so they wouldn’t have to rely on volunteer pastors. He passed away before getting the chance so his son made his father’s dream a reality in the early 1990s. Shortly afterward, he joined the board, attracted to the faith component of the school.
Addressing the students, Stuckey said “My father felt the most important thing he could give was the ability of making faith our own. You are fortunate because you get to start each day in chapel thinking about the most im- portant thing in life — faith. My faith is the most important thing in my life. It gives me purpose, hope, and happiness. We can’t give you a personal faith, but you are given the opportunity to find your faith.
“Williamson was founded by a man of faith and he knew the blessings and success he had in life came from God. He wanted to honor God with his school and help those who God put around him, which were the boys he saw standing on the street corners of Philadelphia.”
Stuckey said his father, who went on to own a car dealership, achieved what he did in life because of the self-discipline, self-esteem, and leadership he gained as a student at Williamson.
Asked how he feels about serving on the board, Stuckey said “The board is 21 guys who do nothing but focus on how to make the school better with the resources that we have.”
When Specht asked what he would like to say to Isaiah Williamson, Stuckey said, “Thank you. He acted in love. He didn’t know you guys, but he wanted you to have something.”
After his remarks, President Michael Rounds presented Stuckey with a keepsake box with a picture of Rowan Hall on it.
Rounds said, “For over 130 years Isaiah Williamson has been inspiring young men that he never met. We are stewards of that legacy. One of my favorite parts of Founder’s Week are the chapel talks on the core values given by members of the executive staff. They help me recognize that we are a part of this proud legacy.”
In his opening remarks, Samuel Wrightson, vice president of education, said Isaiah Williamson was the best example of what graduates of the school should be like and the original trustees selected the values that led to Williamson’s success to pass on to the students, which, today are the core values of faith, integrity, diligence, excellence, and service.
Frank O’Donnell, past president of the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) presented the William Yearsley 4W1 Outstanding Citizenship Award to Deontá Martin, a junior construction technology-carpentry student, and Joshua Baldinger, a junior machine tool technology student [see student profiles below]. The award is presented to juniors who have shown outstanding citizenship and the qualities of industry, self-discipline, personal integrity, reliability, and contributions above the call of duty. They also must have a GPA of 3.25 or higher and have fewer than 28 disciplinary points.
In his Student Tribute, Chris Thomas 2W0, senior class president, said “Isaiah Vansant Williamson saw a future that no one else could see — a future that would help others and at the same time, bring the world what it needs: Williamson men. We students are given the chance to develop, thrive, and flourish through the generous provision of free tuition and free room and board. We are grateful, more than anyone can know.”
Ryan Myers 9W6, in his Alumni Tribute, said “Isaiah Williamson had a goal and felt a responsibility and obligation to provide young men with a purpose and opportunity. His generosity, passion for learning, and insistency for core values created Williamson College.”
Board Chairman William Bonenberger 7W9 said, “We owe Isaiah Williamson a tremendous debt of gratitude for a gift that keeps on giving. When our students leave on graduation day they take with them trade skills, leadership skills, and the core values that provide a foundation they will build on the rest of their lives.”
In announcing the presentation of the Isaiah V. Williamson Award to trustee Thomas Ott, founder and president of Industrial Energy Programs Co., LLC., Bonenberger said, “Tom is not with us tonight because he is on a mission trip to Guatemala building houses for the poor. He is not a Williamson graduate, but he is a Williamson man and is living out our core value of service.”
Ott has been a Williamson trustee for four years, but for many more years has been applying his extensive experience of 55 years in the power field to creating Williamson’s Energy Island, serving as project manager.
In a video of Ott receiving the award during a chapel service the week before, he said “Williamson belongs to the Lord. It is His school. We are all placed here by the Lord to help you students. The type of person you are going to be is your decision. Just keep the core values in your life and you will do well. As you go out into the world, be faithful to the Lord, your family, your employer. Be a true Williamson man.”
Bonenberger then presented the Young Alumnus Award to Curtis Schofield 0W2, who has served Williamson for eight years as the head tennis coach, one year as the assistant coach, and is an admissions assistant, giving talks at high schools to attract future students. He works as an operator at a chemical plant and a district operations manager at several trampoline parks.
Schofield said, “This award means a lot to me and will not be taken lightly. People go to Williamson for different reasons, but for me it was a life chang- ing decision and a way out. It was the best choice I ever made. It’s an honor to receive this award, but this award belongs to a lot of other people who have shaped and mold me along the way.”
The Artisans closed the evening leading the audience in the singing of the alma mater. Rev. Mark Specht 7W7 gave the invocation and benediction.
After the program, guests enjoyed a buffet dinner in the dining room prepared by Tim Burbage, food service director, and his staff.
SAR Awardee Profiles
The Sons of the American Revolution-Philadelphia Continental Chapter (SAR) presented their William J. Yearsley 4W1 Award, given to Williamson juniors who have demonstrated outstanding citizenship and industry, self-discipline, personal integrity, reliability, and contributions above the call of duty, during the Founder’s Day ceremony.
Joshua Baldinger 2W1
Joshua Baldinger 2W1, a machine tool technology student, lives in Syracuse, N.Y., and grew up in Connecticut and New Hampshire. As a teenager, Baldinger was influenced by the trades after doing a lot of small engine work weekends in a machine shop. He decided to attend Williamson after learning of the school from a family friend and felt he would benefit from the excellent internships and job opportunities the school offers. He chose machine tool technology because he has always enjoyed making things and being creative. During his freshman summer, he worked for Electro-Mechanical Integrators, Inc. (EMI) in Green Lane, Pa., where he made and installed parts on tube-cutting machines. He hopes to one day work in a prototype shop for either a car manufacturer or an aeronautical company. He is a member of the Artisans and last year went to Washington, D.C. where they performed in front of the Lincoln Memorial and other historic sites. He is the recipient of the 2019-2020 Air Products Scholarship. He plays the guitar and loves off-roading.
Deontá Martin 2W1
Deontá Martin lives in Wilmington, Del., and attended Howard High School of Technology, earning a Certificate in Carpentry. He knew he wanted to be a carpenter since he was six years old because he always enjoyed working with his hands. Throughout high school, he worked for Specialty Finishes, Inc., a small construction firm. During his senior year, he had enough credits to work there full-time and he continues to work there summers and on his days off from Williamson. He is so valued at the company, they put him on the payroll. He appreciates working with the older, more experienced carpenters and they appreciate the way he is developing his carpentry skills at Williamson. He plans to continue to work for Specialty Finishes after he graduates and then someday start his own business, but only after he’s worked with the “older guys,” and learned as much as he can from them. When not in the Carpentry Shop, he plays baseball for Williamson and is on the yearbook staff. He is this year’s Abele Family Scholar and the first in his family to attend college.