The Connolly Award
The Connolly Award was named in honor of James B Connolly, former Savannah District, US Army Corps of Engineer's employee, veteran of the Spanish-American War, Olympic Gold Medalist in 1896 and distinguished author.
Presented for notable contribution to engineering by a civilian or uniformed service engineer bringing recognition to our fair city of Savannah. This plaque was first awarded in 2005.
Short Biography: James Brendan Connolly (1868-1957) was the first winner of an Olympic Gold Medal, a veteran of the charge up San Juan Hill during the Spanish-American War, candidate for Congress in 1911 (Progressive Party), and one of America's foremost writers of maritime tales, having authored some 25 full-length works and more than 200 contributions to journals and newspapers. He also served with the Savannah District, U. S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Born in South Boston, Massachusetts, one of twelve children, Connolly came to Savannah in 1892 at the invitation of his brother Michael, who worked for the Savannah District and arranged a position for James. In the next three years, James served in various positions, including clerk, recorder of tidal and river current fluctuations, pile-driver inspector, and dredge inspector. Connolly liked the District Engineer, Captain Oberlin Carter, who moved Connolly to rivers and harbors work after he became bored with a clerk's duties. Connolly enjoyed himself in Savannah, where he indulged in many athletic events, including track meets and football. He captained the Catholic Library Association (CLA) football team to a 36-0 win over the Young Hebrew Association, scoring three touchdowns himself. For a while, he also wrote the sports column for a new weekly paper called the Lamplight.
In 1895, Connolly was ready for new adventures. He had never graduated from high school, but took correspondence courses for six months and, encouraged by Dean Nathaniel Shaler of Harvard University, passed Harvard's entrance examination in October 1895. He entered the university as a 27-year-old freshman, but left it within a year-despite being told he might not be readmitted-to participate in the first modern Olympic games, held in Athens. Harvard's attitude offended him, and he never returned to complete his education there.
In Athens, Connolly won the gold medal (actually, silver medals were then awarded for first place) in the triple jump despite the fact that the triple jump in Athens was two hops and a jump rather than the hop, skip, and jump for which Connolly had trained and was the American champion. He threw his cap a yard beyond the mark set by his main competitor and then managed to leap even beyond the cap, just short of 13.5 meters, a mark that was short of his personal best and also of the world record he would set later that year. It was the first first-place medal awarded in modern Olympic history. Connolly also won second place in the high jump and third place in the long jump.
Some fifty years later, Harvard awarded Connolly a Harvard sports letter, perhaps a belated apology for not encouraging him to return to finish his education. By that time, he was a well-known author (even having lectured on literature at Harvard), war correspondent, novelist, and short-story writer. But his own autobiography testifies to those halcyon and no doubt formative years that he spent as a young man in Savannah.
Criteria: Eminent and notable contribution in engineering, particularly in design, construction, and methods, bringing credit and distinction to the engineer and the Savannah Community.
Period of Examination: The engineer nominated must have made the contribution to engineering during the previous calendar year.
Eligibility: Engineers in civil, military or academic practice. Membership in one of the Savannah Community of Engineer organizations (ASCE, SAME, IEEE, Georgia Tech-Savannah, etc.) required.
Nominations: One nomination is allowed per participating engineering organization supporting National Engineer Week.
Award: A historical plaque shall be maintained at the US Army Corps of Engineers Building with individual nameplates updated annually. The individual winners shall receive a nominal plaque to recognize their efforts and have the plaque presented during Engineer Week (normally late February) after the calendar year of the distinguishing act.
Previous Award Recipients:
- 2004 - Tim Doyle
- 2005 - Guoming Lin, PH.D, P.E.
- 2007 - Gordy Simmons
- 2008 - Ric Powers
- 2009 - Dan Nale
- 2010 - Tom Brockbank
- 2011 - Michael Wielputz
- 2012- Laura (Beth) Williams