Academic journal article Historical Journal of Massachusetts

An Exceptional Benefactor: Larry Gwozdz

Academic journal article Historical Journal of Massachusetts

An Exceptional Benefactor: Larry Gwozdz

Article excerpt

Larry Gwozdz (WSU 1969) grew up in a tight-knit, working-class family in Chicopee, MA. His father, a decorated World War II veteran, died of cancer shortly after the war ended when Larry was only two years old. This had a profound impact. Larry writes that "After all, if my Dad made it through his war experiences only to die so very young, there must be a purpose for me [in this world] and if not I'll create one."

Larry started working odd jobs beginning at age nine to help support his mother. As he recalls, "I never knew we were poor." He developed a love for reading and history. Many adults-family members, teachers, and neighbors-encouraged his love of reading by buying him subscriptions to magazines and newspapers, including the New York Times, which he still enjoys reading.

A first-generation college student, Larry worked hard at numerous summer and part-time jobs throughout high school and his years at Westfield State. Although quiet, he pushed himself to run for office and was elected class president in his junior year. He writes that "History professors at Westfield wanted me to continue on to graduate school-something I had never thought about-I thought I'd be teaching at Chicopee and helping out my Mom and grandparents. …

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