Leadership, intellect and humanity

by Gerry Kelly '79

1976 Williams Basketball Team

Forty-five years ago I was one of the members of the class of 1979 entering Morgan East, greeted by our Junior Advisors, Dave Farrell ’77, James Taylor ’77 and Tim Hester ’77. In addition to being my JA, Tim was a teammate and co-captained the basketball team in his senior year, 1977. Tim’s door was always open to the inquisitive and sometimes needy Morgan East freshmen. I learned a great deal about Tim at Williams, admiring his leadership, intellect and humanity.

After graduation time passed quickly, and Tim, honored for his pro bono work with death row inmates, became managing director of a distinguished law firm. Our worlds came together again when our college coach, Curt Tong, passed away, and again when I took a moment to congratulate Tim on his remarkable career.

Meanwhile, my life changed dramatically when I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2012 and returned to my hometown of Garden City, NY. Over time I had become an advocate for different causes in Delaware but figured my disease was an opportunity to assess life with the added insight of a mobility impaired eye. In my hometown I started a Mobility Impaired Committee, ironically nicknamed “MIC,” and our group had much success adding an independent (fob) gate to the village pool, accessible swings at all the local parks and a pair of ADA bathrooms at my old high school, outside of the gymnasium.

The Mobility Impaired Committee of Garden City struggled, however, with gaining access to on-street parking in the main Business District. Our request for handicapped parking on 7th Street was denied in September 2017 by the Village of Garden City’s Traffic Commission and again on appeal in January 2018. After much research and encountering numerous dead ends, an email appeared in April 2018 from Tim, offering help from a pro bono group in New York. Today, after more than a year plus of work in Federal Court by the Kelly team at the law firm of Covington and Burling, the Village of Garden City has installed three handicapped spaces on 7th St.. In addition to opening the doors to the businesses on our Main Street, the Village also agreed to improve the back parking lots for the physically disabled with ADA-approved access aisles to all the handicapped spaces.

In my emails to Tim I often brought up our most impressive win his senior year, beating Yale in the standing-room-only Lasell Gym. As it turns out, 45 years later Tim can move Yale to the side, because beating the Village of Garden City is now on the top of our list.

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