RAHWAY HIGH SCHOOL CELEBRATES CREATION OF THE WILLIAM GAWOR PERPETUAL SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM
Story by: Rob Kinch
Photos by: Katherine Turon-Debicki
To those in the Rahway community lucky enough to have known him, he was ‘Citizen Bill’. Through years of daily interactions with him at her place of business, Rahway Board of Education member Ms. Deborah Bridges recalls “a sociable, kind and truly genuine person.” To his nephew, Major General Stanley Genega, ret., he was simply “Uncle Willy”. However, to some fortunate current and future Rahway High School graduates he will be most gratefully remembered as the gentleman who, through his caring generosity, made the financial demands of their college careers less intimidating.
After graduating from Bayonne High School in 1937, Perpetual Scholarship founder William Gawor went to work for Western Electric where he was trained as a technician in electrical systems and later served in the US Army Air Forces from 1942 to 1946, earning the rank of Staff Sergeant while repairing and maintaining electrical systems in bomber aircraft. Returning to his home in Bayonne after World War II, Mr. Gawor resumed his career at Western Electric where he continued to receive additional training in electrical and electronic systems, instilling in him a deep love and respect for education which would endure throughout his lifetime.
Following his retirement in 1970, Mr. Gawor moved to Rahway where he soon became well-known and highly regarded for his involvement in community affairs, attending and participating in countless meetings of both the school and the planning boards, and earning the affectionate moniker of “Citizen Bill”. His belief that success in life was founded on the values of hard work, a modest life, and giving to the community helped him amass the wealth which, upon his death at age 97 in October 2016, he willed in the form of scholarships to those students of Rahway High School planning to pursue higher education in the areas of science, technology, engineering or mathematics.
On Monday June 17, Rahway Public Schools welcomed Mr. Gowar’s nephew, Major General Stanley Genega, ret. and local attorney Mr. Russell Woods to a small ceremony in Rahway High School’s Performing Arts Center to commemorate the formal establishment of the William Gawor Perpetual Scholarship. Having bequeathed $2.5 million, half of his estate, to Rahway Public School District, Mr, Gawor’s wish was that the interest/dividends earned be used to award $5000 scholarships to a deserving senior student studying in a STEM field. The scholarship program will be supervised by the non-profit organization ‘Scholarship America’. Each scholarship will be renewable for 3 years, providing the student maintains a 3.0 grade point average and remains in a STEM field throughout his or her college career. The first scholarship in the program will be awarded for this school year and its recipient will be announced at the high school’s graduation ceremonies June 20.
Mr. John Farinella, Principal of Rahway High School, recognized the major contributions afforded by Mr. Gawor’s generous gift. “This scholarship program helps to promote one of the most important areas of study in higher education. This substantial award will help to erase the burden on families and on students as they complete their studies in these fields. There aren’t many opportunities available for a scholarship of $20,000 to defray the cost of higher education in these years.” Board of Ed. member Ms. Bridges, who was present at the celebration along with Board Vice President Mr. Thomas O’Reilly and Board Member Mr. Darren Lesinski, offers very sage advice to the students. “Mr. Gawor is a supporter not only of schools but also communities. Students should take notice of what concerned citizens will do for you when you have done all you should.”
With the celebratory presentation of a formal plaque commemorating Mr. Gawor and the Perpetual Scholarship Program, School Superintendent Dr. Patricia Camp expressed her deep appreciation for the numerous opportunities this program will afford the district’s senior and future college students. “Citizen Bill’s gift to the children of Rahway is truly breathtaking and humbling…his generosity will only be exceeded by the accomplishments of the scholarship recipients. Our students do indeed have many people “looking out” for them and supporting their future dreams.” Reflecting Dr. Camp’s sentiment, Mr. Gawor’s nephew sincerely believes that, for each current and future scholarship recipient, “Uncle Willy’s looking down on them at graduation!”