MONTVILLE, NJ – The Montville Township Hall of Fame awards dinner was held April 26, when three graduates of Montville Township High School, a teacher/coach and two teams from the school were honored for their accomplishments and contributions to the school and community.

MTHS Principal Douglas Sanford said that the plaques representing each honoree over the years hang in the hallway near the gyms and the students and staff read them as they go in and out of the building, as he does.

“They gaze at the plaques with reverence and pride,” Sanford said. “Our Hall of Fame inductees represent individuals and groups who are able to accomplish great things during their high school careers and beyond because of your character, your knowledge and your ability, which make Mustangs [the school mascot and symbol] who they are.”

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Hall of Fame Committee Member Jerry Hug served as MC for the evening and said this was the 15th year of awards for the HoF. He said in 1999, then-mayor Fred Eckhardt and then-principal Steve Kramer – who created the motto “Mustang Pride,” according to Hug – wished to create a Hall of Fame that was all inclusive, and not limited to athletes. Hug said 120 individuals have been inducted, including 77 men, 43 women and 11 teams.

“Over the years, we have inducted people who are great athletes, and great people in their respective careers,” Hug said. “Professionals and amateurs in football, soccer, and many other sports. Teachers, coaches, administrators, doctors, lawyers, directors, producers, writers – for movies and TV. Pop singers, authors, chefs, and entrepreneurs. Career military officers and local police. And tonight we are honoring four more individuals and two teams.”

John Schulien – Teacher and Coach

Former MTHS football and lacrosse coach, physical education teacher and Lazar principal John Gallucci introduced honoree John Schulien. Schulien was also a physical education teacher at MTHS from 1977 to 2008. He introduced a high adventure course which involved repelling, belaying, rope fundamentals, and challenge courses, according to his own words in the HoF program, refereed hockey wearing roller blades and played music during gym class. He liked to think outside the box, such as starting a freshman field day and introducing a “small games” elective.

Schulien worked with Gallucci as the football and lacrosse teams’ defensive coach. Gallucci talked about Schulien’s sense of humor.c

“When we rode in his car, he would say, ‘Want the air conditioning on?’ and he would roll down the window,” Gallucci said. “We had a really great physical education staff. He loved kids and wanted them to love PE – and he really got his point across. Every day John gave everything he had.”

Schulien joked that his wife, Barbie, gets the Hall of Patience award.  He recalled that when MTHS Principal Clifford Keezer called him, “I said, ‘I’m going to do the best job I can.’”

“I knew that middle schoolers were excited about PE but I thought that if I could get high school kids to come in and ask, ‘What are we doing today,’ I’ve done pretty well. They would come in and say, ‘Shools [his nickname] – what have you got planned for us today?” he said. He concluded by saying that he was proud of having received the award.

Richard Cook

Morris County Sheriff James Gannon introduced honoree Richard Cook, who was a member of the class of 1981. Gannon said Cook’s parents instilled a good work ethic, and that while his accomplishments are impressive, he’s a family man first.

“Rich is true, blue Montville,” Gannon said. “I couldn’t think of a better person for the Hall of Fame.”

Cook was a member of the Montville Township Police Department for 31 years, and served as police chief for ten of those years. He retired from the force in 2014.  He is now a member of the Montville Township Committee and he works for Gannon as a director.

Cook said he was honored by the award. He shared highlights from his family history starting from the Revolutionary War, which is actually after his family came to the area in 1740. He said he was sharing family history because it was “ingrained in me.” He said he was giving tours of the Montville museum on Taylortown Road at 12 and fighting fires at 14. His father died when he was 17 of a heart attack, he said, and his plans for becoming a business major changed.

“Somehow I ended up taking the police test,” he said. “Next thing I know, I’m in the police academy, becoming a police officer. It was a life-changing job and an unbelievable experience for me. After I retired, I thought it would be the greatest thing in the world. It’s really not! [You have to] keep doing something! I started on the historic preservation review committee and the planning board and then an open spot came on the township committee. I decided to run, not because of politics – I hate politics. I wanted to do what was best for the township.”

Cook called it a “pleasure” to be serving on the township committee for the 150th celebration knowing that Asa Cook was a part of the township’s founding and now he took part in the anniversary.

In another article, TAPinto Montville will detail the accomplishments of honorees James McNabb ’03 and Kathleen Williams ’93. In a subsequent article, TAPinto Montville will cover the accomplishments of the 1973-4 boys basketball team and the 2013 girls tennis team.

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