Grace Miller, Leo Mahlke Win Hank Anderson Memorial Scholarships

New Milford High School graduating seniors Grace Miller and Leo Mahlke are the recipients of the 2024 Henry B. “Hank” Anderson Memorial Scholarships.

Two scholarships of $500 each are presented each year by Cramer & Anderson to honor Founding Partner Hank Anderson, who died in June 2019 at age 101. (Left, Hank Anderson in his later years wearing his Navy uniform.)

Miller plans to attend the University of Connecticut and major in pathobiology, and Mahlke plans to attend Vassar College and major in cognitive science.

Hank Anderson Memorial Scholarship applicants are required to write an essay responding to this prompt: “Describe areas in your life where you demonstrated leadership attributes to overcome one or more obstacles experienced in school, the community or family life.”

Miller and Mahlke both wrote about being student leaders in the high school’s Wingman Movement program, part of Dylan’s Wings of Change, founded in 2012 in honor of Dylan Hockley, a victim of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

According to high school Student/Parent Handbook, Wingman is a student-led, school wide program with a focus on academics, leadership, empathy, and service. Wingman activities take place roughly once a month and present an opportunity for students to work with peers to develop empathy, social acceptance and other skills. Student leaders oversee the activities and foster an environment where all students are accepted and their voices are heard.

Miller wrote, in part:

I will never forget my first day with my classroom of students. The task was to complete an icebreaker activity depicted in a game of bingo. It was obvious to me almost immediately that there were a few students who were hesitant to participate. One student stood out in particular and I decided to walk over to talk with him, providing him with the encouragement and motivation to socialize and interact with new possible friends. It was later revealed to me that his autism causes extreme nervousness around big groups and makes it difficult to interact socially with new peers. However, my positive encouragement had helped him to overcome his nerves and break out of his shell. 

An ongoing obstacle within the school environment is the need to ‘fit in’ or be ‘normal’. I appreciate the program and the opportunity to be a Wingman leader, since I am able to demonstrate and exemplify that everyone is unique in their own way, and we should accept each other for who we are, regardless of our differences and struggles. …

Mahlke wrote in part: 

Though student leaders attended extensive training, nothing could prepare freshman-aged me for the moment of standing before 25 teenagers, spanning all four grade levels, trying to walk them through the activities we had planned for the month.

Though I felt intimidated at first, I believed in the importance of the program. I had seen students sitting alone at lunch, heard students discuss feeling isolated or withdrawn. So, despite the challenge, I carried on. But a leader also has to learn to adapt. When I could feel activities losing their engagement, I improvised and altered the programs to invite more participation.

Being bilingual, I prepared translated directions for students who were learning English as a new language. When my group had a student with mobility challenges and the activity involved passing a ball with only feet, I altered the game to passing the ball blindfolded. I was an enthusiastic cheerleader, and when all else failed, I tossed out candy! On some occasions, I worked with other leaders to combine our classes to expand the scope of our team’s positive community and make the activities even more exciting. Based on that success, I helped plan a school-wide field day where all students came together for a day of fun and team games. …

“The Partners who knew and worked with Hank Anderson remember him as everyone’s ‘wingman,’” said Partner Jennifer Collins, who administers the scholarship initiative for the firm. “This year’s recipients struck a chord in describing their passion for challenging themselves with leadership roles meant to see, hear, nurture, and elevate everyone around them without boundaries or judgment. It was a wonderful echo of Hank Anderson’s legacy. He would be proud.”

Honoring a Legacy

The Cramer & Anderson scholarships were created in 2020 to honor Founding Partner Hank Anderson, who died at age 101 in June 2019 at home in Brewster, Mass., where he lived with his wife “Bunny” (Theresa Virginia).

See Our 2018 Tribute to Hank Anderson

A proud graduate of Wesleyan University and the University of Connecticut School of Law, he was a decorated Navy veteran who survived kamikaze attacks on two ships during World War II. The first was an attack by two kamikaze pilots on the USS Bunker Hill on May 11, 1945, as it supported the attack on Okinawa. Nearly 400 sailors were killed. The second came only days later, when the USS Enterprise was attacked by a kamikaze pilot, killing 14.

Following the war, and after finishing his master’s and law degrees—graduating from Wesleyan and UConn on the same day—Anderson came to western Connecticut to live and work, joining the firm of Attorney Harry Bradbury before partnering with Attorney Francis S. Ferriss to form the firm Ferriss and Anderson.

After Attorney Ferriss died in 1957, Anderson and his friend Attorney Paul B. Altermatt formed Anderson and Altermatt. In 1962, they joined their firm with Cramer, Blick, Fitzgerald & Hume to create Cramer & Anderson, which was originally based in New Milford and Litchfield and has grown to include offices across western Connecticut.

Among his many state and national roles, Anderson served as president of the Litchfield County Bar Association and was a Fellow of the Connecticut Bar Association and American Bar Association. In addition to guiding Cramer & Anderson, he helped to shape the practice of law in Connecticut and beyond.

“Anderson was the recipient of numerous distinguished legal awards,” a UConn Law story recounted. “In 1989 he was voted Citizen of the Year by the State of Connecticut Courts of Probate. In 1990, The Connecticut Bar Association awarded him the John Eldred Shields Award for his professional services to the community at large—over 900 hours of pro bono services. He was also voted Probate Attorney of the Year by the Connecticut Probate Assembly.”

In 2018, the Connecticut Law Tribune honored Anderson with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

About Cramer & Anderson

Cramer & Anderson provides sophisticated legal services, close to home, with regional offices in New Milford, Litchfield, Danbury, and Ridgefield. For more information, see the firm’s website or call the flagship office in New Milford at (860) 355-2631

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