Posted by Amy Luckiewicz on Nov 14, 2023
The Wakefield Rotary Club has an honored tradition of recognizing the service of veterans year-round through various service projects, donations, and partnerships. This year, however, the club members wish to highlight the service of veterans within its ranks; the club is home to four military veterans and a Peace Corps volunteer.

Jay J. Curley served as a 1st Lieutenant in the Army Infantry, serving in Vietnam. He received the Bronze Star Medal for heroic service. After his military career, his service to others continued at home as an attorney in Wakefield and the Wakefield Rotary Club President from 1987-88. In fact, his dedication to the Wakefield community and beyond is unwavering with 52 years of perfect attendance, more than any other member of the club. He said, “I have always tried to help people from a young age and continue to do so today through Rotary. I did not want to lead a life without giving back. I was a team player in the military and am a team player in Rotary. I like to have a positive approach to helping others.”

Wakefield Rotary Club Past President Frank Fiorentino retired as a 1st Lieutenant in the 1st Cavalry Division in the US Army. He served two years (1962-1964) in Korea on the North Korean border, protecting American interests from Communist North Korea. Today, Fiorentino serves as the club’s Sergeant-at-Arms and is a co-founder of Mahoney, Fiorentino & Co., P.C., an accounting firm in Wakefield. Reflecting on his service to others in the local and global communities, Fiorentino said, “As a Rotarian, I enjoy protecting others from adverse situations and try to make their lives better.”

Judy Gordon, the club’s first female President (1996) served in the Peace Corps from 1965-67. She explained, “From the time I was a child, I wanted to be a nurse. I wanted to take care of people.” After completing the nursing program at Boston University, Gordon applied to and was accepted as a Peace Corps Volunteer, serving two years in India. She recalled, “I lived in a village which had a regional health center. I focused on women and children, running prenatal clinics and working with a doctor on Saturdays at the Well Baby Clinic. The kids were new-born to five years old so providing vaccines was an important part of our responsibility. I worked with the village girls’ school to encourage good health practices. We provided smallpox vaccinations for the students.” Gordon feels that her experience living in another culture changed her life. “When my children were young, I started working in a nursing home. My boss invited me to join the Wakefield Rotary Club. Rotary is a perfect match in my life. Our club members work together and have fun! I love the fact that we support our local community and have a strong international focus as well. Service Above Self Is my life philosophy!” Gordon went on to become the club’s first female president in 1996.

Many residents know Tom Stapleton, the retired Director of WCAT here in town. But before a long professional career, Stapleton served in the Army’s 101st Engineers, located in the Medford barracks, as a Specialist 6 Medic, serving from 1070-78. He recalled, “As a medic I drove a jeep with the Doc and took care of medical issues. I also was taught how to give vaccines and was prepared for any and all emergencies.” As a Past President of the Wakefield Rotary Club, Stapleton sees similarities between his military service and volunteer work with Rotary. “Rotary and the Army both fight for good causes,” he added, “Rotary’s motto of ‘Service Above Self’ really applies to both organizations.”

Finally, Bob Kimball was commissioned in the US Air Force in 1964 after completed his R.O.T.C. program. He flew nine different types airplanes, both jets and reciprocating engine aircraft and the OV-10 Bronco, a twin-turboprop light attack and observation plane. Kimball recalled, “The OV-10 was designed with great maneuverability which made it perfect for Forward Air Control duty in Vietnam.” While in Vietnam, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. Kimball retired from active duty as a Lieutenant Colonel after 23 years of duty. Serving as Rotary Club President in 2015-16, Kimball most closely ties his thoughts on service to his father, Ralph Kimball’s favorite poem “Compensation” by Edgar Albert Guest, which begins:
I'd like to think when life is done
That I had filled a needed post.
That here and there I'd paid my fare
With more than idle talk and boast;
That I had taken gifts divine.
The breath of life and manhood fine,
And tried to use them now and then
In service for my fellow men.