Stedman T. Hitchcock Memorial Scholarship
Established July 18, 2001
By Mrs. Katharine M. Hitchcock
Stedman Hitchcock grew up in Woodbury, attended the wooden clapboard Mitchell School (in front of the present brick one) from first to twelfth grades, spent one year at Taft, and graduated with honors as a civil engineer from Yale in 1929. His picture was shown on the Yale Alumni Magazine in 1994, the same year he died, shaking hands with Yale’s president Levin. Normally, only Nobel Laureates or United States Presidents are so honored. And, Stedman was a shy man!
With his civil engineering degree, Stedman’s first job was with the U.S. Department of Transportation building the nations roads, a job he held until he retired. His job was immense. In 1930, in contrast to the roads of today, the nation’s highways were entirely gravel, bumpy, dusty, corduroy gravel, from Minneapolis to just outside Los Angeles, which boasted of the first concrete highway in the west. It could be said that the small-town boy from Woodbury paved America. While he moved frequently, Stedman ended up in Washington, DC as one of the men who designed the nation’s super highway system.
After retiring to Heritage Village, he became chairman of the Southbury Planning Commission for twenty long years. The Town of Southbury presented him with a plaque and an exhibit in their showcase for such distinguished service. It was interesting to watch this quiet Yankee run the Planning meetings. Someone would get up and object violently to a proposed subdivision. After the speaker’s first outburst and after he started to repeat himself, Chairman Hitchcock would quietly say that the speaker had made that point, did he have any new ones - otherwise, “Thank you very much”. And the protestor, still red in the face, would have to sit down. The audience, particularly the professionals, loved Stedman’s cool, unruffled performance.
And then, there was the providing of land for Woodbury’s elderly housing at Spruce Bank. Stedman sold his property at a bargain price so that the project, which he ardently believed in, could proceed.
Hitchcock demonstrated unselfish public service at its
best, a towering example for those who follow.