Donald Shauger to Be Inducted into Colgate Park Hall of Fame on West Orange’s Old Timer’s Day
September 5, 2016
Donald Shauger, executive vice president of The Shauger Group, Inc. (TSG), will be inducted into the Colgate Park Hall of Fame and honored at the upcoming West Orange Old Timer’s Day on Saturday, September 10, 2016. Each year, the event, which is entering its 40th year, recognizes a select group of individuals over the age of 50 who have made an impact on the West Orange community and who have served Colgate Park, specifically, through years of involvement with recreation and service activities.
“I am extremely humbled to be given this honor,” said Shauger. “The past and present Colgate Park honorees are an exceptional group of people who have made a significant impact on West Orange as a town and community. They have profoundly influenced the direction of the community and have built lasting friendships in the process. I’m so honored to have been part of this during my youth and the course of my entire life. As I always say to my kids, Marisa and Donnie, I wasn’t raised in West Orange—I was raised by West Orange.”
A lifelong presence in the West Orange community, Shauger left his mark on Colgate Park and the surrounding area from a young age. With the goal of making Colgate Park and its surroundings as safe as possible, Shauger was one of the first people in the town to create a civic association. To combat problems in Colgate Park, Shauger took the initiative to start a neighborhood watch group and to facilitate communication between police and citizens to work out issues.
Shauger served as governor of the Organization of Concerned Adults and Youth (O.C.A.Y.) of West Orange, Colgate Chapter, from 1978-1981. During his time as governor, Shauger received much attention for his efforts to maintain Colgate Park and to keep the West Orange community safe and secure. In 1979, Shauger, along with friends James Tiernan and Fred Voelbel, Jr., painted over offensive anti-Semitic graffiti resulting from vandalism. That act gained community-wide attention, including an article in the West Orange Chronicle, and it sent a bold statement regarding West Orange citizens’ lack of tolerance for vandalism and other disrespectful misdeeds in West Orange.
One of Shauger’s first jobs was performing maintenance work for the West Orange Department of Recreation, working as a laborer throughout West Orange, including at its parks. Supervised by Jim Rogers, former director/superintendent of recreation, and John O’Connor, former supervisor/director of recreation, Shauger had a tireless work ethic that impressed his superiors from the start.
“You could recognize right away that he was going to become something,” said O’Connor, who was inducted into the Colgate Hall of Fame about a decade ago and will be introducing Shauger at the upcoming Old Timer’s Day induction ceremony. “You could tell him to do something, and he’d get it done. He’s done that in life as well, and it’s why he’s a successful businessman.”
Described by O’Connor as a “gregarious” boy with admirable aspirations, including being class president, Shauger was named the Orange-West Orange “Youth of the Year” in 1979 by the Optimist Club of Orange-West Orange.
“It’s my honor to induct Donnie,” said O’Connor. “He was an obvious choice. He was a leader…[and he] never let anything get ahead of him. If other people didn’t want to do something, Donnie—as a high schooler—did it.”
Shauger, as part of O.C.A.Y., played a critical role in facilitating the opening of the Colgate fieldhouse, which featured ping-pong, pool tables, television, and other activities. Shauger would personally open the recreation house at night for use by the community’s youth.
“[Donald Shauger] is a great choice for the Hall of Fame—he used to work in the Department of Recreation, he started the first civic association, he made sure the town kept the park clean, and he volunteered a lot to clean up graffiti in the park,” said Tiernan, TSG’s operations manager of the Landscaping and Cleaning divisions. Tiernan was inducted into the Colgate Hall of Fame at last year’s 2015 Old Timer’s Day ceremony.
Shauger worked at Colgate Park’s Ginny Duenkel Pool for a couple of years and was on the pool’s swim team as well. In fact, it was at the pool where Shauger first met his future wife and TSG’s president/CEO, Lisa, when she came to apply for a job. Shauger also served as the manager of the Edison Junior High School football team; the team’s coaches, Mike Pizzi and Bruce Vanderhoof, mentored young Shauger and were like fathers to him.
From 1994 to 1998, Shauger also served as deputy mayor for the Township of West Orange, under former West Orange mayor Samuel A. Spina.
“Everyone called Donnie the ‘governor’ because of all he did in the town,” added Tiernan. “He made a difference in the town. Everyone knew him.”
Always philanthropic at heart, Shauger volunteered in his youth with children with special needs. One of the children, Ralph, with whom Shauger worked won a gold medal in Special Olympics—an honor that meant just as much to Shauger as it did to young Ralph. As part of O.C.A.Y., Shauger was extremely devoted to helping senior citizens, whether by running errands for them, mowing their lawns, shoveling their driveways, or assisting them with issues related to health care.
“He’s still so good to so many people, and he doesn’t expect anything back in return,” said O’Connor.
Founded in the 1970s by West Orange’s first recreation director, Joe Byrne, West Orange Old Timer’s Day is a sentimental day that gives honorees and their friends an opportunity to gather at the site of many of their earliest memories. A favorite “hangout” for West Orange youth, Colgate Park is a fitting location for each year’s continuing tradition of Old Timer’s Day. The annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Old Timer’s Day is followed by a short, three- or five-inning exhibition baseball game. After this year’s exhibition game, a luncheon will be held at Our Lady of Lourdes R.C. Church in West Orange to commemorate the event and its honorees.
“Colgate Field is remembered fondly by many West Orange residents as a place for recreation and leisure,” said Reverend James Ferry of Our Lady of Lourdes R.C. Church. “Children and young people need both of these in abundance. Donald Shauger recognizes this—and experienced this himself—as a youth. Donald knows firsthand the love of the West Orange community which helped him and his family in times of need. Donald has always remembered these grassroots of support both on and off the playing field. He supports our township and community and the Colgate of 2016, first and foremost, by the generous gift of his time. In some ways, then, contrary to the old saying, you really cannot take the boy out of Colgate.”
“Donald’s personal involvement in many charitable activities in our community indicates his gratitude and interest in giving back to the township of West Orange and the larger community,” added Father Jim.
Shauger is one of 11 honorees in this year’s Hall of Fame class; the others are Kevin Healy, Richard Aquino, Joe Fagan, Paul Bury, Mary Laing, Kay Voelbel, Bobby Bontempo, Johnny Porcelli, Shauger’s childhood friend Greg Brennan, and Voelbel.
Click here for more information on the schedule of events for the 40th annual West Orange Old Timer’s Day.