During a special reception and ceremony at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Providence inducted seven former members into the Alumni Hall of Fame on Wednesday, May 16, including Walter F. McLaughlin of Coventry. Each of the inductees was active in the Boys & Girls Clubs during their youth and attributes their experiences at the Club to their success in life.
This year marked the 6th annual Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. The Class of 2012 includes:
- Walter F. McLaughlin, McLaughlin Automotive Stores (Retired)
- Joe Baxter, District Manager, Staples, Inc.
- Ed Cooley, Head Coach, Providence College Men’s Basketball
- Richard R. Kohler, Buyer/Planner (Retired)
- Kate McCaughey, Miss Rhode Island USA 2011
- Michael A. Solomon, Providence City Council President
- Matthew J. Soltysiak, Esq., United States Air Force (Posthumously)
“Each day, there are people within our community who do incredible things to help others, with many getting their start as a youth through the Boys & Girls Clubs,” said Nicole Dufresne, Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Providence. “It’s an honor to take a moment each year and recognize outstanding Club alumni who demonstrate the powerful impact that Boys & Girls Clubs can have on young lives in seeing the best in children and helping them to realize their full potential.”
The inductees’ backgrounds are as follows:
Walter F. McLaughlin is the Founder of McLaughlin Automotive and retired from the company as its President and CEO. After launching his automotive business in 1974 with $500 of his own money and funds borrowed from friends, McLaughlin was recognized years later as Rhode Island’s Small Business Person of the Year when his company grew to open its twelfth store. A life-long Rhode Islander, Walter overcame the adversity of the loss of his father at a young age to attend LaSalle Academy and later Bryant College. He is a proud veteran, serving both the United States Air Force and the Rhode Island Air National Guard. Throughout the years, Walter remained active in the community, serving on the Board of Regents for LaSalle Academy, the Coventry Land Trust, as President of the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame, and the Town of Coventry Charter Review Commission.
Joe Baxter has been a District Manager for Staples, Inc., leading stores in Massachusetts and Rhode Island for more than six years. For six consecutive years, under Joe’s leadership, the district been placed in the top 10 percent of all Staples’ districts in the country. Joe attributes his professional success as a leader to the valuable teamwork lessons he learned through the Boys & Girls Clubs as a youth. He Graduated Cum Laude in Business Administration from Niagara University, and lives in Hopkinton, Massachusetts with his family.
Ed Cooley is the Head Coach of the Providence College Friars Men’s Basketball team. Prior to joining Providence College, Cooley spent five years as the Head Coach at Fairfield University, and ten years as an Assistant Coach under Al Skinner; including one season at Rhode Island and nine at Boston College. A native of Providence, Ed attended Central High School and twice earned Rhode Island High School Player of the Year honors for his accomplishments on the hardwood. Mr. Cooley is a graduate of Stonehill College. He and his wife, Nurys, have one daughter, Olivia, and one son, Isaiah.
Richard R. Kohler spent 43 years working in Providence for Federal Products, Inc., a worldwide leader in the manufacturing of dimensional measuring equipment, until his retirement in 2007. A 1960 graduate of Hope High School, Richard enlisted in the military immediately after receiving his diploma. He served the United States Air Force for six years during Vietnam; including a stint with the 28th Bomb Wing. During his youth, Richard spent many hours at the Fox Point Boys & Girls Club. He remains active today through the Fox Point Alumni Association, having served as both Secretary and President. Richard was recognized with the Van Billard Award in 1999 for excellence in community service through the Alumni Association.
Kate McCaughey, of Lincoln, holds the title of Miss Rhode Island USA 2011 and is heavily involved with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Cumberland-Lincoln. A 2010 graduate of Southern New Hampshire University with a degree in communications, Kate will complete her Masters in marketing this June. Ever since her days as a Boys & Girls Club member, Kate has enjoyed working with children and giving back to the community. She is an active volunteer with Special Olympics Rhode Island, Easter Seals, Toys for Tots, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and more.
Michael A. Solomon was first elected as Councilman in 2006 to represent the Elmhurst and Mount Pleasant neighborhoods. In 2011, he became President of the Providence City Council. Inspired from a young age by his father, Anthony Solomon, who served six terms as the state’s General Treasure, Michael has carried on his family’s tradition of public service his entire life. Councilman Solomon serves as a member of the Committee on Public Works, the Committee on Urban Renewal, Redevelopment, and Planning, and is one of only two council members on the Providence Water Supply Board. In addition to his civic and political involvement, Mr. Solomon is also a proud business owner, operating the popular Wes’ Rib House in Olneyville, along with Cozy Catering. A lifelong Providence resident, Councilman Solomon resides in Mount Pleasant with his wife Denise. He is the father of three daughters, and recently became a grandfather.
Matthew J. Soltysiak, Esq. was inducted into the Alumni Hall of Fame posthumously. Prior to serving as a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Air Force during World War II, Matthew was a highly-accomplished swimmer, with many considering him the best in the long history of Brown University. Soltysiak stakes claim to never having been beat in New England Inter-Collegiate Championships while securing six titles. Alongside his brother, Matthew led the Olneyville Boys’ Club to victory during the first-ever New England Boys’ Club Swim Championship in 1940. Born in Providence, Mr. Soltysiak passed away in June 2011.