3 inductees enter Meriden Hall of Fame

3 inductees enter Meriden Hall of Fame


MERIDEN — The stories families, friends and others told about the three new members of the Meriden Hall of Fame offered a look into Meriden’s rich history.

The three inducted during a ceremony Sunday were former Meriden Police Chief Robert Kosienski Sr., Winton Filipek Sr., a prominent local athlete, and Martha Minerva Franklin, an African-American nurse. Franklin and Filipek were inducted posthumously.

“It is because of individuals like (those) we will be honoring today that we have gotten this far in our city’s history,” Meriden Mayor Kevin Scarpati told the crowd at the Curtis Cultural Center.

Kosienski’s son, Robert Kosienski Jr. said they are still regularly stopped around town by people whom his father helped while he served as a police officer.

They see his dad as someone “who helped us, who was there for us in a time of need,” he said.

Kosienski Sr. said one of his lasting achievements was implementing the community policing program.

Since retiring in 2001, Kosienski Sr. has remained active in policing, serving as chairman of the Law Enforcement Memorial Foundation Memorial Committee.

“If you ever need a chief, I may be a little used after all these years, give me a call, I’ll be there for you,” Kosienski Sr. said. Before he could leave the podium, Capt. Nicholas Sherwood presented him with a new chief’s badge, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Meriden Police Department.

Franklin helped found the National Association of Color Graduate Nurses and served as its first president in 1908. Her plaque was accepted by Katherine Tucker, president of the Southern Connecticut Chapter of the Black Nurses Association. Tucker said the national organization was inspired in part by Franklin’s work fighting racism and raising nursing standards.

“She did this in the early 1900s, when it wasn’t easy to speak up in general for a person of color, let alone a woman. She was unafraid, undeterred,” Tucker said. “Her mission was to improve the professional status for black nurses all over the United States.”

After graduating as the only African-American in her class at the Women’s Hospital Training School for Nurses in Philadelphia in 1897, she came back to Meriden and worked as a nurse, before starting NACGN 11 years later. By 1921, the organization had 2,000 members, partially because of letters Franklin wrote to black nurses inviting them to join.

Accepting the plaque and induction for his father, who died in 2005, Winton Filipek Jr. said, “today at this event is one of those special times and memories that the Filipek family will never forget.”

Winton Filipek Sr. was known as one of the best local baseball and tennis players of his era. In 1947, he played third base against Hall of Fame manager Connie Mack and the Philadelphia Athletics when the team visited Meriden.

Filipek Jr. said his father learned to play tennis on courts once located behind the Curtis Cultural Center, where Sunday’s ceremony was held.

“There weren’t clinics, there weren’t lessons, there weren’t camps, we just learned by going to the park and doing it. And that’s exactly what my dad did at Crescent Street Park,” Filipek Jr. said.

After his father died, local tennis players and his family started the Wint Filipek Sr. Memorial Tennis Tournament, which has raised $140,250 for scholarships and civic programs in the area.

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