Distinguished Grotonians

Since 1977, Groton School has presented the Distinguished Grotonian Award, which recognizes graduates whose lives of highly distinguished service reflect the essential values of the School.

2018 Distinguished Grotonian Award Winner: Jonathan Choate ’60, P’85, ’88, ’88

Few have devoted both their lives and careers to Groton students as Distinguished Grotonian Jonathan Choate has. With patience and dedication, he nurtured students, advisees, athletes he coached, and students he neither coached nor taught, through his understanding, support, and accessibility. Many former students say that Choatie changed their lives.

Choatie accepted his Distinguished Grotonian honor with these words:

Many thanks to those responsible for my being given this wonderful honor. I’ve had quite a ride during the past fifty-two years. If you had told me the day I graduated in 1960 that I would be standing here today I would have asked you what you had been smoking. Groton has come a long way during my time here. When I started teaching in 1966, the school was pretty much the same as the one my father attended in the ’30s. Given all that was going on in society at that time, we all realized that the school had to change, and change it did. Bert Honea’s vision of how Groton should change was way ahead of his time, and it cost him his job. Paul Wright took over and had the wisdom to guide us as we changed, carefully. Groton finally went co-ed in 1975, and the school became bigger in size and less of an island. Thanks to Bill Polk, the school started the process of slow but deliberate change in the composition of the student body. Rick Commons took over and, with Jamie Higgins and the Board of Trustees, made possible the changes in the physical plant that led to the magnificent new science and math addition, featuring this Sackett Forum. And now, we have a school that, thanks to Temba Maqubela, has become even more diverse and inclusive while incorporating the goals of scholarship, spirituality, globalism, and service.

It has been an honor to play a small role in helping the school become one that everyone in the graduate body should be proud of. Enough history.

It may sound trite, but Newton had it right when he said he stood on the shoulders of giants. That I am standing here is due to the work of all the wonderful colleagues and mentors I have had the pleasure of working with.

Many thanks . . .

To Phil Nash, who, when I was a student here, instilled in me a love for mathematics that I didn’t know I had until after I graduated from Colby.

To Jake Congleton, who treated me right away as a colleague and taught me to love the game of football and its coaching.

To Roger Jarvis, who had the wisdom in 1966 to advise me to find out something about computers.

To Junie O’Brien, who helped me both as a player and as a coach and who was responsible for making ice hockey take on a major role in my life.

To Charlie Alexander, who taught me what it meant to be a first-rate school person and who let me know at times that it might be worth rethinking some of my more outrageous curriculum ideas.
To Frank White, who taught me the meaning of the word service.

To Bill Polk, who in 1982 suggested that I should spend more time in the world of mathematics outside the school and let me know the school would support me.

To Bill Hrasky, for all he did to help make the Applied Math course a success.

To David Bannard, for the many conversations we had about mathematics and its teaching. He has yet to outdo me in the acquisition of math toys and gear, though the race has always been close.

To Cathy Lincoln, for all her support for so many years and for all she has done to make our department a strong one that supports all levels of students.

To John Tulp, for inviting me to co-teach Modes of Order and Disorder and showing me how so much of the work I was doing in fractals and chaos had its intellectual origin in the work of the Greek philosophers.

To Cindy Choate and our children for all their support, and for putting up with all that I did to meet the demands that teaching at Groton put on me and the demands I put on myself.

Special thanks to Kathy Leggat, who has done so much to make the last twenty-one years so very, very special.

Finally, many thanks to all the wonderful students and athletes I have had the honor to work with. Without you, I would never have been able to do all that I have done.

Mr. Choate expanded on these themes in his May 2018 chapel talk.

Past Distinguished Grotonian Award Recipients

Name Year of Award
Rev. Edward B. Gammons Jr. '52 2017
Mr. L. Robert Bolling '76 2016
Mr. George C. Lodge ’45 2015
Mr. David Campion Acheson ’39 2014
Mr. Moorehead C. Kennedy, Jr. ’48, P’79 2013
Dr. Ward H. Goodenough ’37, P’71, ’77, GP’08, ’12 2012
Mr. Malcolm E. Peabody, Jr. ’46, P’82, GP'16 2011
The Honorable Robert C. Scott ’65 2010
Mr. R. Scott Asen ’62 2009
Mr. Hardwick Simmons ’58, P’84, ’07, ’09, GP’12, '17 2008
Mr. Hunter Lewis ’65 2007
Mr. Peter Gammons ’63 2006
Mr. Samuel A. Waterston ’58, P’87, ’95 2005
Ambassador George H. Walker III ’49, P’78, GP’02, ’04, ’13 2004
Mr. William M. Polk ’58 2003
Mr. Ralph O. Esmerian ’58 2002
Mr. Henry Chauncey ’23, P’51, ’53, ’63 2000
Mr. Edward P. Lawrence ’59, P’89, ’91 1999
Mr. Charles Devens ’28, P’55, ’61 1998
Mr. Daniel P. Davison ’43, P’72, ’75, ’80, GP’02, ’03, ’06 1998
Mr. Ferdinand Colloredo-Mansfeld ’57, P’81, ’83, GP’09, ’13, ’14, '18 1997
The Honorable John Train ’46, GP’97 1996
Mr. Kenneth Auchincloss ’55, P’96 1995
Mr. Harold I. Pratt ’55, P’82, ’85 1995
Mr. John H. Finley III ’54, P’88, ’94 1994
Mr. David E. Howe ’43, P’75, ’80, GP’14 1993
The Honorable Clive L. DuVal II ’31 1992
Dr. Bertrand B. Hopkins ’48, P’78, ’79, ’81 1991
Mr. Alan J. Pifer ’40 1990
Mr. Gordon Gund ’57, P’86, ’89 1989
The Honorable Endicott Peabody ’38, P’67, ’73, GP’94, ’11 1988
Dr. Paul Snowden Russell ’43, P’75 1988
Mr. Jonathan Yardley ’57 1987
Mr. J. Carter Brown ’51 1986
Mr. Frank D. Ashburn ’21 1986
Mr. Louis S. Auchincloss ’35, P’76, ’82 1985
Mr. Theodore Chase ’30, P’56, GP’86, ’97 1985
Mr. Stanley R. Resor ’35 1985
Mr. J. Graham Parsons ’25, GP’77, ’79, ’96 1985
Mr. Francis Keppel ’34 1984
Mr. Walter S. Sullivan ’36, P’74 1983
Mr. John E. Lawrence ’27, P’58, ’59, ’63, ’64, GP’81, ’83, ’85, ’93, ’94, ’00, GGP’09 1983
Mr. Robert H. Gardiner ’33 1980
Mr. McGeorge Bundy ’36, P’69, ’71, ’74, ’77, GP’07, ’09, ’12, ’12 1980
Mr. Henry Bradford Washburn, Jr. ’29 1979
Mr. William McCormick Blair 1903, P’34, ’35, ’36, GP’62, ’72, ’81, GGP’89, ’92, ’95, ’98     1978
The Honorable C. Douglas Dillon ’27, GP’75, ’78, GGP’98, ’99 1977
The Rev. John Crocker ’18, P’42, GP’70 1977
Groton School is a diverse and intimate community devoted to inspiring lives of character, learning, leadership, and service.
Groton School is recognized as one of America's top boarding schools. It prepares students in grades 8-12 for the "active work of life."