RICHARD J. GARFUNKEL
101 Prospect Street
White Plains, NY 10606
914-683-0131 (pm) 914-467-7802 (am)
March 31, 2001
The Honorable Ernest Davis
Mayor of Mount Vernon,
Mount Vernon, N.Y.
Dear Mayor Davis,
I hope that this letter finds you and yours quite well. I wanted to thank you for taking the time to speak to me this morning at the Memorial Field Tennis Facility. Knowing the dynamics and pressures of public life, I appreciate your thoughtfulness regarding my subject matter.
We had originally met through the good offices of my long time friend Randy Forrest, whom I have known for 40 years. I have worked with Randy on many projects starting with scholastic wrestling in the early 1960’s, up to his work with the Frederick Douglass Institute in New Rochelle. In fact, Randy and I flew to San Francisco together, just a year ago this week, for the memorial service of the former great Mount Vernon High School coach Henry M. Littlefield.
Over the last eight years, I have directed the effort to raise funds for the Jon Breen Memorial Fund, which uses these funds to sponsor a public policy essay contest every year. The late Jon Breen, a 1963 Mount Vernon High School graduate (president of his class), a Dartmouth College alum, a Harvard Law School graduate and a Fulbright Scholar, had a great fondness for Mount Vernon, was an award-winning essayist, and was a public-policy thinker. Through these eight years I have raised over
$20,000, have read and judged over 200 essays yearly, and have awarded thousands of dollars to the winners. With the help of the last three Social Studies coordinators at Mount Vernon High School, L.E. Smith, John Alberga and Paul Court, I have been able to accomplish this important effort.
Last year, with the untimely death of Henry Littlefield, I was able to start an annual history award to be given in his name. With Mr. Court’s able assistance, I was able to select Robert McNair (Cornell, ’04) as the year 2000’s honoree. This year, as in the past, we have chosen a subject that has recent historical and political relevance, the Electoral College. Please find, along with this letter, copies of last year’s Jon Breen Fund letters, and one of the contest flyers from 1999.
Over this period of time, I have had the pleasure of being invited to speak in Advanced Placement and Honors classes on 20th Century historical topics. One of these topics has been the life and times of Franklin D. Roosevelt. As part of my lecture, I bring along artifacts and collectibles reflective of his life, public career and the events that made him famous.
Your idea of convening a panel discussion, in front of an assembly, on this very important topic and having this event and the awardees also honored on local cable television is greatly appreciated. I believe it will bring added recognition and needed exposure to the project. I look forward to helping you accomplish this goal with any and all efforts I can contribute.
Richard J. Garfunkel