NB Politicus

Attorney Geragosian Remembered As Passionate Defender, Advocate For Social Justice

Posted in Hard Hittin' New Britain, In Memoriam, New Britain, New Britain history by nbpoliticus on August 3, 2022


Attorney Harold J. Geragosian, 94, whose “one-man general law office” served scores of New Britain clients and organizations from the 1950s to 2018, died on August 1.

Long before the creation of Neighborhood Legal Services Attorney Geragosian’s civil and criminal law office, located for many years on West Main Street, served public employees, churches, unions and other organizations with an unfailing and tenacious commitment to justice and helping those in need. “Harold was devoted to legal aid and represented countless individuals regardless of their means,” stated his obituary. Geragosian’s cases and appeals included representing clients on up to the Connecticut and United States Supreme Courts if necessary. Respected by his peers Attorney Geragosian was elected President of the New Britain Bar Association in the 1970s.

“Harold was a believer and a fighter,” wrote Attorney John King, formerly the City Corporation Counsel and former New Britain Democratic Town Chairman upon Geragosian’s passing. “He kept me up all night one more than one occasion during the Civil Service hearings nearly 40 years ago as he passionately defended his clients.”.

In the community Geragosian served on the boards of Connecticut Legal Services, New Britain EMS and supported progressive candidates and causes at local, state and national levels. Geragosian’s son, John, served the city’s 25th District in the Connecticut General Assembly and is the state Auditor of Public Accounts.

For Geragosian, alongside his wife, Realtor Harriet Geragosian, social and economic justice work have lasted a life time. In 1957 Geragosian, proud and recognized for his Armenian heritage, offered his law office as a meeting place to members of the city’s Puerto Rican community. In addition to helping Puerto Rican residents fight discrimination, Attorney Geragosian helped draft the charter to establish the Puerto Rican Society. His contributions to founding the group were honored in July 2007 when the Society marked its 50th anniversary.

Attorney Harold J. Geragosian and Realtor Harriet Geragosian at a 2011 campaign fundraiser for former Alderwoman Shirley Black. (courtesy of New Britain Democratic Town Committee)

On more than a few mornings Harold and his wife Harriet (Unique Realty) would start their work days as octogenarians with breakfast at New Britain Diner. If you were ever lucky to get a seat at his table Harold could regale you as he did me with stories of his days as a law student at Boston University, lawyering before city commissions and courts and offering wry takes on politics and politicians past and present.

Harold Geragosian, to borrow from a famous quote by the Methodist John Wesley, “did all the good he could, for all the people he could, in all the ways he could, for as long as he could” in his native city of New Britain. He was one of those extraordinary citizens and neighbors who made you a better person for having known him.

Condolences to Harriet, his son, John (Audrey) Geragosian, his granddaughter, Molly, and his grandniece, Terra Michalowski and the many friends of the Geragosian family Services and Obituary

Donations in Harold’s memory may be made to Connecticut Legal Services, 62 Washington Street, 4th Floor, Middletown, CT 06457. https://ctlegal.org/

John McNamara

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Remembering Steve Horowitz: Losing One of “New Britain’s Best”

Posted in CCSU, In Memoriam, Local History, public education, school board by nbpoliticus on July 10, 2021

Dr. Steve Horowitz, 68, CCSU Psychology Professor and a former President of the New Britain Board of Education, died last December 18th after a brief, sudden illness.

For Democrats and political activists in New Britain, Steve’s passing meant the loss of a close friend and one of “New Britain’s Best.” You can be forgiven if you don’t remember where the “Best” tag comes from. It goes all the way back to a 1999 Board of Education primary election when the endorsed slate of Horowitz, Peter Kochol and Juan Verdu, advocating for interdisciplinary teaching, minority hiring and bilingual programs, went up against a challenge slate organized by right-of-center former State Senator Tom Bozek.

The campaign involved nightly phone banking at Harriet Geragosian’s Unique Realty offices where the slate and volunteers would relentlessly dial up voter after prime voter to drive up turnout. It turned out only 19.6% of city Democrats (3,067) voted that September day but “New Britain’s Best”, all of whom served as Board President at one time or another, eked out a 36-vote victory.

Steve, like his running mates Kochol and Verdu, led the BOE as fierce advocates for public education, holding off critics of adequate school spending and acknowledging the inadequacies of property taxes as a way to meet the needs of the city’s children.

Steve leaves his wife, Adrienne Benjamin, a constant partner in progressive politics in New Britain, son Matthew and daughter Zoe. “Those who knew Steve are aware of his dedication to his family,” his obituary noted. “An early riser, he brought Adrienne coffee every morning of 34 years of marriage. He was exceptionally supportive of Adrienne’s career as both a clinical social worker and as an advocate for those with intellectual disability and autism. He was an adoring and proud father to Matthew. His towering compassion was seen in his devotion to his daughter, Zoe, whose special needs require constant care.”

from The Hartford Courant, September 14, 1999: A hard earned triumph for “New Britain’s Best “School Board Slate

The dedication to family and Horowitz’ public service were reflected in what he did in the classroom at CCSU where psych majors faced the rigors of his core courses on research methods to reach their academic goal. “If you really take the time to listen you’ll find that he is extremely intelligent, very passionate and knowledgeable about the subject and really cares about his students,” one student observed. “He is a challenging professor who expects a lot but he is willing to help you every step of the way if you try and make an effort.”

Though Horowitz earned enough political stripes in that 1999 primary and his years on the BOE, I can attest that he never stopped knocking on doors and making calls on behalf of progressive Democrats and causes year after year.

It’s hard to know Steve won’t be walking through the headquarters door to again grab a door-knocking turf. No time for kibbitzing. He knew it was time to get out the vote for the candidates he supported and the causes he cared about.

Let Steve’s life and activism as New Britain’s Best always be remembered for others to follow.

A Celebration of Steve’s Life and tree planting in his memory is being held at Walnut Hill Park at 11 a.m. on Saturday, July 10, 2021. To honor his memory, please consider donating to Harc, which has stepped up to help meet Zoe’s needs through this challenge. To donate, https://harc-ct.org/donatenow/ Or, Harc, Inc. 900 Asylum Ave. MS 1002 Hartford, CT 06105

  • by John McNamara