The Lowell High School Distinguished Alumni Board of Directors is pleased to announce the 2015 honorees.
Lowell High School's Distinguished Alumni Awards for 2015
The Lowell High School Distinguished Alumni Board of Directors is pleased to announce the 2015 honorees. Nominees must have graduated or attended Lowell High School a minimum of twenty years prior to be eligible.
The new inductees include:
- James F. Sullivan - Class of 1877
- Joseph P. Donahue - Class of 1909
- Robert A. Lemire - Class of 1950
- Hazel Ann Roper - Class of 1957
- James F. Conway, III - Class of 1970
The formal induction ceremony was held in the Cyrus Irish Auditorium at Lowell High School on Thursday, November 5th from 12:45-2:45PM.
JAMES F. SULLIVAN
CLASS OF 1877
A son of an Irish immigrant who helped build the canals of Lowell, James Francis Sullivan, was born at 20 Cross Street, in the Acre, and never moved very far from that general neighborhood. An exceptional student, his academic achievements should have led to being a Carney Medalist, but because he was a Catholic, his name was stricken from the list. The Carney Medal is awarded each year to six students receiving the highest marks, indicating the best scholarship and best conduct. At graduation, when the name James Sullivan was not called as a Carney Medal recipient, but instead awarded “the City of Lowell medal for unusual proficiency in scholarship,” there was an outcry of protest and denunciation at such glaring injustice. James was awarded the Carney Medal however his name appears on the Carney Medal recipient display out of order.
Electing to take up medicine, James entered Harvard Medical School and was graduated with distinction in 1880. More than forty years of his life were given over to active practice and hundreds of Lowell men and women paid tribute to his professional skill and manifestations of absolute faith in his advice and treatment.
JOSEPH P. DONAHUE
CLASS OF 1909
Joseph graduated from Harvard Law in 1916, passed the Massachusetts bar exam, and in September of that year, he returned to Lowell and began what was to be a most colorful career, practicing law in downtown Lowell from 1917 until his passing in 1973.
A talented baseball player, Joseph was offered a career in the major leagues by several professional clubs. He declined all offers to continue his education.
Attorney Donahue was a well know trial lawyer in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and was one of the first lawyers in Massachusetts inducted into the American College of Trial Lawyers, which is made up of less than one percent of the lawyers in the country.
The Donahue family’s commitment to the community has lasted for over 100 years.
Joseph served the community in many ways as a member of various civic organizations but most notably, he returned to his alma mater to give back as a coach of the Lowell High School
CLASS OF 1970
Following two years in the United States Navy Robert received an MBA from Harvard University and went on to become an investment banker, later had his own company, Lemire and Co., He then went on to develop a career in creative land development and was an early leader in the preservation of open land.
Robert was not a reading specialist or researcher. He was not looking for a new career. But he and his wife Ginny were the parents of Bo, a smart, well-behaved student until the fourth grade when Bo’s school performance began to change. Bo was tested and found to have Dyslexia, also known as reading disorder, a learning disability characterized by trouble with reading despite normal intelligence.
Robert was moved by his son’s success in overcoming his reading difficulties with the help of one-on-one instruction that lent the consistency and attention that helped Bo overcome dyslexia and master reading. But Robert realized along this journey that many other children had reading difficulties and most of them did not have the resources and guidance his family had to help Bo.
Lemire assembled a team comprised of learning specialists and MIT software engineers, and with assistance from Digital Equipment, created software that has had tremendous success in teaching dyslexic and other learning disabled people to read. In 1984, Bob Lemire founded Lexia Learning Systems.
“Times were tough but when you get touched by something, you respond,” stated Lemire. “When your boy is suffering and someone comes along and makes him whole, you say “wow” and then you think ‘is there any way to bring this to other people. Since 1984, Lexia has helped millions of students improve their reading success.
HAZEL ANN ROPER
CLASS OF 1957
The Calvary Baptist Church helped shape Hazel Roper into a devoted minister. She was dedicated there in June 1939 and baptized there in 1949. In that role, she has made a positive difference to countless people as a pastor in New Hampshire and an area minister in upstate New York, supervising 100 churches and as a Service Representative of MMBB for ten years.
Hazel can't remember a time when she didn't feel called to be a minister. She was ordained in 1967 at First Baptist Calvary Baptist Church in Lawrence, where she had been a student minister for three years. She ventured, undaunted, into a then male-dominated ministry, often finding herself at meetings where she was the only female minister, she said.
"When God calls you, you cannot say, 'that is not our tradition or culture.' We need to respond to God's leading in our lives," she added.
Today, Roper, who was born on Easter Sunday morning, travels to Lowell from her home in Berwick, Maine, a couple of times a week to assume her role as Calvary Baptist moderator and a mentor to the pastor,. She encouraged Roper to take on the volunteer role of moderator for the multi-cultural church and welcomes Roper to preach when she is on vacation.
"That she was born on Easter Sunday is relevant. Easter is about new life, new birth," said Atula Jamir, a native of India who often relies on Roper's counsel and historical perspective. "Hazel has come back and given a new birth to this church. She's an engine for communication and she understands diversity."
As far as Roper's energy to travel to Lowell in retirement and passion to reach out to Lowell's immigrant community, she had a simple answer: "These are my roots, and your roots are your roots. We need to keep those connections, because if you don't, what do you have? Nothing."
JAMES F. CONWAY, III
CLASS OF 1970
The son of Distinguished Alumnus, James F. Conway, Jr. and nephew of two Carney Medalists, James is a fourth generation Lowellian. His grandfather, James F. Conway taught Chemistry at Lowell High School for over 40 plus years and The Peter W. Reilly Elementary School in Lowell is named after his maternal great grandfather.
James graduated from Harvard College in 1975 and matriculated to Xavier University, graduating with an MBA in 1979. He has served as the President and CEO of Courier Corporation for 21 years. The Conway family has been affiliated with Courier Corporation since the 1880’s beginning with their great grandfather, thus establishing a tradition that continued with James F. Jr. and James F., III.
Assuming a leading role at Courier at the age of 40, due to the untimely passing of his Dad, James is credited with leading the organization through the difficult years as technology spread through the book industry and continually returning profits at year’s end. He is a highly respected businessman and philanthropist.
Today the company employs approximately 1,500 workers worldwide, with 150 at the Chelmsford headquarters, and nearly 200 more in Westford.
James continues in an executive management role at Courier, now part of RR Donnelly.
Previous honorees include General Benjamin Butler, Jack Kerouac, Paul Tsongas, Ted Leonsis, Elinor Lipman, Herbert Zarkin ,George Behrakis, Marty Meehan, Ken Wallace, George Duncan and Milton Bradley.