Inductees - 2006

James Benedict 1960
Basketball
Jim Benedict, class of 1960, nicknamed "Slim Jim" was a star basketball player at Hartford Public and later Providence College. 
 
At Hartford Public he was a high scorer in the Golden Era of Connecticut basketball in the late fifties and early sixties.  His top game was 27 points against Ansonia, among many 20 plus point performances. 
 
After high school Jim attended Brighton Academy where he continued to hone his scoring capabilities.  There he topped 50 twice and nine times scored over 40 points in a game.  He compiled 1500 points earning him All-New England Prep Player of the Year for 1961. 
 
His outstanding success earned him a scholarship to New England hoops power Providence College.  There he played alongside All-American Jimmy Walker for Coach Joe Mullaney.  Dave Gavitt was an assistant.   The Friars made the NCAA tournament three times during Jim's tenure there. He was captain of the team his senior season, 1966, that went 22-5 winning the Holiday Festival.  His junior year,  the team went to the elite 8 finishing 24-2 and finishing 4th in the country.   Jim scored 1,086 points at Providence and is in their Athletic Hall of Fame. 
 
After graduation  Jim went on to receive his Masters from Rhode Island College and now serves as Chief Operating Officer of Eleanor Slater Hospital in Cranston, Rhode Island. 
 
Melvin Braswell 1965
Track
Mel Braswell, class of 1965, was an outstanding high jumper, maybe the school's best ever and one of the best in the country. 
 
Mel built a steady progression of track accomplishments over the course of four years and finally the ultimate accomplishment, All-American in 1965 his senior year.  As a high jumper he won seven state championships clearing 6'-7 3/4" a school and state record at the time.  He won the CIAC High Jump championship five times and the Long Jump championship twice.  He once reached 44'5" in the triple jump. 
 
Mel was a consistent scorer and amassed 380 points in his high school career.  Mel finished third in the Golden West Invitational competition, considered the national championship meet for high school track. 
 
Mel returned to Hartford Public as a track coach and his 1990 team won the CIAC State Championship.  His peers consider him one of the best high jumping coaches in the country.
 
He has coached high jumpers from throughout the state, including his son Omari, who holds the HPHS and State high jump record with a 7'1/4" leap.
Gary Chesky 1959
Football
Gary Chesky, class of 1959, established a strong reputation on the football field. 
 
In 1957 he was named first team All-State Class A by the New Haven Register.  He is considered one of the best centers ever to play for the proud Hartford Public football program. 
 
Gary played both ways, at center on offense,  and on the defensive line.  He made the All-CDC team in 1957.   He had great games against East Hartford and Weaver in the Thanksgiving Day game and fans marveled at his play.  He had a innate ability to rise to the occasion that brought frequent praise from HOF Coach Ralph Worth.    The 1957 team won the City Title. 
 
Gary graduated from Central Connecticut State University in 1994.  He was director of Property Image at Foxwoods Casino and is a prominent benefactor of Hartford Public High School. 
 
Gary served as the president of the Westerly/Pawcatuck Chamber of Commerce for many years and currently resides in Rhode Island.
 
Ron Copes 1959
Football and Basketball
Ron Copes, class of 1959, made his mark on the gridiron and the basketball court for Hartford Public. 
 
In football, he was named to the All-CDC team in 1958.  In those days many players played both sides of the ball and Ron,  a lineman, was no exception being part of every play from the kickoff to the final play. Lineman don't always get their share of the credit but Ron was frequently praised by HOF Coach Ralph Worth.  In those years the teams featured future Hall of Famers such as Brian Smith, Fred Koury, Bill Lesinski, and Gene Jenkins.   The 1958 team was City Champion, tied for the CDC crown, and went 7-1 against the best competition in the state.
 
As a basketball player Ron had many big games scoring 20 against Stamford.  He also had 14 point game against New London and a 12 point game versus the state champion Wilbur Cross. 
 
Ron graduated from Lincoln University in 1963 and joined the U.S. Army.  He was awarded the Silver Star and retired after 27 years of service in the rank of colonel. 
 
In recognition of his civic activities in the years since his return from the service, Ron has been awarded the City of Hartford Medallion and has been honored as the United Way Man of the Year.  Ron has also recieved the Mass Mutual Chairman Leadership Award and Eagle Leadership Institute Award.  Ron is also a member of the Lincoln University Hall of Fame. 
John DeRagon 1949
Track and Field
John DeRagon, class of 1949,  was an outstanding track and field athlete at Hartford Public. 
 
John was the first Hartford Public track athlete to reach the 50 foot mark in the shot put.  On March 18, 1949, in a indoor meet against Manchester he reached exactly 50 feet.   In an outdoor dual meet against Norwich he hit a personal best of 54'6".   He won the CIAC indoor and outdoor shot put events in both 1948 and 1949 and won at the New Englands in 1949.   
 
John also threw the discuss, winning the CIAC title in that event in 1949.  His best effort in the discuss was 140 feet.  John was the Greater Hartford shot put and discuss winner in 1948 and 1949 and set a shot put record of 52'11".  He scored 103 points his senior year and helped the Owls to two consecutive CIAC track and field championships. 
 
John was a flight controller for many years.  He died January 29, 1996.
 
Kenneth Gagne 1940
Track and Cross Country
Ken Gagne, class of 1940, is recognized as one of the strongest runners in Hartford Public High School history. 
 
In 1939, Ken won the CIAC cross country championship, a daunting challenge for any long distance runner, winning while competing against leading competitors in the state.  That same year, Ken won the University of Connecticut cross country invitational at Storrs and the Greater Hartford mile.  He also won the CIAC 1,000 yard event in 1940. 
 
Ken was a member of the HPHS mile relay team that broke the state record at the University of Connecticut in 1940.  He was a member of three of HOF Coach Larry Amann's state championship teams, in track and cross country, in 1938 and 1939.     
 
He joined the U.S. Army Air Corps after high school and won the Air Force mile and the All-West Bases mile while stationed in California.  He served in the rank of staff sargeant as crew chief on the Aircobra,  King Cobra, Mustang, and P-38 fighter planes during World War II and later served in the recruiting service. 
 
As a civilian, Ken joined the Air National Guard, and continues to be active in the American Legion.  He owns his own business, Gagne and Gagne Sash and Door, Co.  He also donates his time and talent to various volunteer activities, including scholarship and youth programs.  He has been married for over 60 years.
 
Paul Girdes 1945
Swimming and Track
Paul Girdes, class of 1945, was an outstanding swimmer in the Golden Era of champion HPHS swim teams. 
 
He was an All-Around swimmer, winning numerous CIAC state gold medals,  and he was also tossed the shot put for the track team.   During the war years,  1942-1945,  Paul took medals in the 220 yard, the 150 yard individual medley, the 100 yard freestyle, and the 200 yard relay.   Under HOF Coach Larry Amann, the Owls won four state titles during Paul's tenure. 
 
Paul continued his education and swimming career at Yale under coach Bob Kiputh.  During his three years at Yale, Paul won the Eastern Collegiate freestyle titles at 100 and 220 yards.  In AAU competition he was always listed among the Top Ten in the U.S. in the 200 yard freestyle.    In 1947 Paul finished second in the National AAU 200 yard freestyle and in 1949 he tied for third in the World in that event.   He also won Gold in the National AAU 400 yard freestyle relay. 
 
Paul finished his college education at Marquette University and joined the Milwaukee Police Department,  serving for 33 years.  He is retired and loves to play golf.
 
William Green 1966
Cross Country and Track
William Green, class of 1966, was gifted with speed and endurance.  He was a star in both cross country and on the track. 
 
He won seven CIAC titles in total.  Named All-State in both cross country and track.  He won the  mile in both 1963 and 1964 in the Large School class indoors and outdoors and the CIAC outdoor mile.  He also swept the Capitol District Conference and City titles in the mile those years.  
 
In cross country Willie set course records in New Britain, Manchester, and New London.  He did the same on the Greater Hartford course and Keney Park.   His Keney Park record,  11 minutes 51 seconds stood in 2006 when he was inducted.   His combination of endurance and speed were such that Willie was often called on to anchor the 4X220 yard relay team.  Willie served as team captain for cross country and track in both 1963 and 1964. 
 
In 1966, Willie joined the U.S. Marine Corps and competed in track and cross country.  He served in Vietnam  and was credited with saving many lives.  He suffered a shoulder wound from a rocket explosion during his combat assigment and returned to Hartford a war hero. 
 
Willie currently serves with the Vietnam Veterans Committee and assists with many community projects, rendering aid to homeless and disabled veterans and voluntering with the House of Bread.     
 
 
John Inho 1978
Soccer
John Inho, class of 1978, was a star on the soccer field.
 
John led the 1977 Owls to the Class LL State Championship with a win over Danbury.  He was named to the All-CDC team that year.  At Hartford High he was often the top goal scorer and assist man.  As a senior he captained the soccer squad. 
 
John continued his career at Post College.  During his first year there he led the team in scoring with both 25 goals and 25 assists.  He once scored five goals in a game while playing for Post.  That season he was All-New England first team and All-American second team.  In his best season at Post John scored 30 goals and had 27 assists, being named male athlete of the year and also served as the team captain. 
 
John joined the Hartford Police Department and was decorated with the Medal of Valor, the highest honor that can be bestowed on a police officer.  While in HPD he started a free soccer camp for under privileged youth. 
 
He coached at Newington High for five years recording an undefeated season in 1987 winning the CCC South championship.  John also played for the Harford Portuguese team from 1978 to 1984. 
 
Barnaby Keeney 1932
Track and Field
Barney Keeny, class of 1932, achieved Hartford Public High School fame as a runner.
 
In 1931 he was Greater Hartford champion in the 440 yard dash.  He won the state championship in that event in 1932.  His winning time in that race,  51.4 seconds, surpassed the school and state records at that time.  His senior year he was team captain. 
 
He went on to further his education at the University of North Carolina.  There he finished first in his class.  He also ran track in college. 
 
Barney served in the 35th infantry in World War II.  He was awarded the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, and the Silver Star. 
 
Barney Keeny went on to become a scholar in medieval history and eventually became president of Brown University leading the institution from 1955 through 1965.  He was well known among educators for his candor and directness and is credited with bringing Brown to prominence amongst Ivy League schools. 
 
Barney has a close relationship and friendship with Larry Amann, his HPHS coach that continued throughout his life.  He would occasionally stop in to visit Coach Amann at the school on Forest Street, not far from his mother's residence in Hartford.  
 
Barney Keeney died in 1980. 
 
William Jones 1963
Basketball
Bill Jones, class of 1963, was a complete all around basketball player on some of Hartford Public's best teams ever. 
 
Bill played a key role on the 1962 State and New England Championship team.  On HOF Coach Joe Kubachka's club he always seemed to made the "big play" when it counted.  That group went 21-4 on it's way to the title.  In 1963, his senior year, he captained the Owls to a 16-7 record and a berth in the Class A semifinals. 
 
Bill then went to Fairfield where he continued his basketball career.  He was versatile there too, playing every position and was described by Coach George Bisacca as "the best player I ever coached".  He scored 976 points at Fairfield.  in 1968 he won the "Tap Off Club" Major College Player Award and was named to the All-New England Team. 
 
Bill was very active in local sports.  He founded the Greater Hartford Summer Basketball League.  He also played for the New Haven Elms and the East Hartford Explorers.  Bill retired from Southern New England Telephone Company in 1993 after 25 years of service. 
 
William McKone
Track and Football
Bill McKone, class of 1939, became famous for his exploits as a Hartford Public High School runner, both in track and field and on the gridiron. 
 
Bill was an All-Stater in both sports. He set the school records in the 100 yard dash (10.0) and the 220 yard dash (21.8).  In 1938 he won the 45 yard dash in the CIAC State indoor meet and followed that with winning performances in the 100 and 220 yard events during the outdoor season.  In 1939 he won the 220 yard dash in the CIAC outdoor meet. 
 
Bill also won the 100 and the 220 yard events in the Greater Hartford Outdoor Track meets in 1938 and 1939.
 
Bill attended Holy Cross in Worcestor Ma where he continued to compete in track and football.  He graduated in 1943 and served in the U.S. Army from 1943 through 1946.  He worked for the Hartford Insurance Group, retiring in 1973. 
 
Marcilyn Patterson 1987
Basketball, Track, and Soccer
Marcilyn Patterson, class of 1987, was a multi sport star at Harford Public. 
 
Marcilyn earned 12 letters in her four years at HPHS.  She was a record setting hurdler in track and played soccer and basketball all four years.  She also was the team captain in all three sports, a remarkable achievement.  She competed in the 100 and 300 meter hurdles, setting a school record of 48.33 seconds in the 300 meter event in the 1987 City Championships.  She also competed in the 4X100 and 4X400 relay events. 
 
Conscious always of her obligations to the community, Marcilyn served as a volunteer while at HPHS with the "Meals on Wheels" program and was a tutor in the after school program.  She was a member of the National Honor Society, a Jacob Fox-Lewis Fox scholar, and a recipient of the Roy Wilkins award. 
 
Marcilyn continued running track at Connecticut College and continued to excel.  She competed in the long jump and set a school record (1:03.72) in the 400 meter hurdles, finishing ninth in the NCAA Division III championship. 
 
Marcilyn recieved her bachelors degree from Connecticut College in 1991.  She then joined the U.S. Army and in 1994, became an officer.  She later attained the rank of Major and is on active duty with the 53rd Transportation Battalion as a branch Chief Operations Officer. 
 
Thomas Rodden 1962
Football and Track
Tom Rodden, class of 1962, achieved recognition as an all-around athlete, earning letters in three sports. 
 
Tom earned three letters in both football and baseball, being named All-CDC in both sports.  He also recieved two letters in indoor track.   He was a member of the 1962 indoor track team that won the CDC championship and also garnered the CIAC Class L title. 
 
Tom was on strong football teams that won the City Title in 1960 and 1961 going 2-0 against Weaver and 1-0-1 versus Bulkeley.  He was instrumental in the Owls 1961 win against long time rival New Britain. 
 
Tom went to Central Connecticut State University where he played football and tennis for three years.  He graduated in 1968.  Tom was the tennis coach at Manchester Community College and also coordinated a junior tennis program there.  He also taught tennis at the Manchester Tennis Club. 
 
Always a multi sport athlete, Tom continued to hone his skills on the ballfield in the venerable Greater Hartford Twilight League. 
Sebastian Santiglia 1950
Baseball
Seb "Checkers" Santiglia, class of 1950, was known far and wide as a "clutch" hitter, somebody who could get a hit when it counted. 
 
Checkers hit for power and average, leading the 1950 Owls in runs batted in.  He was the third basemen from 1948 to 1950, three highly successful seasons.  The combined record was 25-12 with two city titles and a share of a third.  Also, the Owls beat out Hillhouse and New Britain to win the Triangular League Title each of those years.  In 1950 Checkers set a school record, at the time, with 19 runs batted in.
 
After high school, Checkers played third base for the Fitzgerald (Ga) Pioneers, a farm team of the Philadelphia Phillies.  He joined the U.S. Navy and played on their baseball team playing third base.  He was named captain of the varsity fliers baseball team and won the batting title that same year, leading the team to the New England Interservice Baseball Championship.  He was selected most valuable player in 1954 and 1955 and was part of the All New England Navy All Star team both years. 
 
Beginning in 1957, Checkers was at third base for the University of Hartford.  He led the Hawks that year with a .366 batting average, also leading the team in runs batted in, total hits, and doubles.  He lettered all four years and served as co-captain in 1958 and again in 1959, when he posted a sizzling .409 batting average, placing him among the league leaders. 
 
J. Brian Smith 1961
Football and Basketball
Brian Smith, class of 1961, was an excellent all-around athlete, earning letters in three sports. 
 
Brian excelled in football, playing four years under HOF Coach Ralph Worth.  He was team captain as a senior, in 1960,  and made All-City and All-Conference two years.   Owl football teams were very strong in that era and the 1960 group went 6-2 defeating rivals Weaver and Bulkeley for sole ownership of the City Crown.   In 1958 the team went 7-1 winning the City and tying New Britain for the CDC lead.
 
Smitty was captain of the All-East team in the Nutmeg All-Star Game and was named Most Valuable Player, an honor rarely bestowed upon a lineman.  
 
Smitty also played basketball and was a member of the historic 1961 team that went 21-4 and won the New England Championship.   He also played baseball and earned two letters. 
 
Brian went on to play football at the University of Connecticut.  In 1963 he was named to the Yankee Conference and All-New England teams.   While at Uconn Brian recieved the Outstanding Contribution Award and the Red O'Neil Award.  He graduated in 1965.  In 2005, at a game at Rentschler Field,  he was honored for his contributions to the University. 
 
Brian Smith is co-founder of Smith Brothers Insurance, Inc.  He servers on several boards and is Vice President of the Nutmeg Games.
 
Robert Stroh
Coach
Bob Stroh coached wrestling at Hartford Public High School and also assisted Lindy Remigino during the outdoor track season. 
 
During his tenure as wrestling coach his teams won the CIAC Championship twice.  His teams produced four individual CIAC Champions and eight individual finalists. 
 
Bob moved to HPHS from Glastonbury where he started his career as a wrestling coach in 1963.   Bob, a teacher and a coach at HPHS captured his first State Title two years later.   From 1966 through 1977 his teams never had a losing season.  They also routinely placed well in the state tournament.   In 1974 Bob was voted wrestling coach of the year by his peers.  Bob also coached wrestling at University of Hartford and Trinity College. 
 
In 1978, Bob shifted focus and became a full time wrestling referee and officiated for many years.  In 1988, he was honored by the Connecticut State Board of Wrestling Officials. 
 
Bob is retired and resides in Hollywood, Florida.
 
Pete Zabroski 1974
Baseball and Basketball
Pete Zabroski, class of 1974,  was a dominant pitcher in the mold of the many great pitchers who had preceeded him at Hartford Public. 
 
Pete dominated hitters for four years leading the Owls to strong finishes in both the city and conference races.  His career ERA is a miniscule 1.14.   His ERA his senior season was 0.32.  Pete also played basketball at Hartford Public. 
 
Pete, a member of the National Honor Society, graduated with High Honors in 1974, recieving the Wickham Medal and the Jacob Fox scholarship.  His baseball prowess earned him a scholarship to the University of Notre Dame,  where he was admitted to the Notre Dame Monogram Club.  Pete played baseball at South Bend and graduated in 1978. 
 
Pete coached varsity baseball at Prince Tech from 1979 to 1982.  He also has coached AAU Team Connecticut Baseball since 1977.  In 1999 he coached the AAU 16 and under National Champions.