New Milford High School graduating seniors Lugin Afifi and DJ Hassiak were awarded $500 Henry B. “Hank” Anderson Memorial Scholarships May 31 at Scholarship & Awards Night.
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.”
Lugin Afifi, who plans to attend Tufts University and study cognitive and brain sciences, with a minor in chemistry, wrote about the Leap Program she founded to help elementary school students navigate the “education ahead of them while creating an inclusive, collaborative environment” as they transition to different grade levels and schools.
“As an immigrant student myself, I found it strenuous to transition between grade levels and connect with others as a result of the language barrier,” Afifi wrote in the essay. “Through the program, I’m able to be an anchor for many of the younger students to feel connected to each other, which is extremely important for the large immigrant population that resides in New Milford as a result of the pandemic. To create a safe and inclusive environment, I have focused on exposing the students to diversity through read-alouds and various activities that teach them about their heritage.”
DJ Hassiak, who plans to study computer science at University of California San Diego, wrote about his time with Experience Camps, a grief camp he attended for the last seven years, where this summer he will be a counselor after two Leaders in Training years.
DJ was assigned a buddy from “the younger bunks” to spend time with, and he was warned by a counselor that his buddy was having a rough time and didn’t want to come back again even though he was making progress in his grief journey. “Therefore, I made it my mission to make it the best week of his life,” DJ wrote in his essay. “Whenever he wanted to throw the football, we would throw the football. If he wanted extra dessert during meals, he got mine. … By the end of the week my buddy was super excited to come back to camp again … and I was excited to inform him that I too would be returning as a counselor.”
“Every year, the New Milford High School students who apply for the scholarships are outstanding,” said Partner Jennifer Collins, who administers the initiative for the firm. “The life experiences they describe in their essays are tougher than many adults would be able to handle, and yet these teens overcome their challenges with grit and grace – all while getting top grades and going through the rigorous college application process. Beyond impressive. Hank Anderson would be proud.”
Hank Anderson died at age 101 on June 22, 2019, at home in Brewster, Mass., where he lived with his wife “Bunny” (Theresa Virginia).
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 six offices in 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.
“The passing of Hank Anderson was the end of an era, not only for Cramer & Anderson but for the Bar here in Connecticut,” Partner Art Weinshank said at the time of Anderson’s death. “His personal accomplishments and prominence gave such stature to the firm and made us more than a local Litchfield County law firm.”