SHREWSBURY, Mass. – Shrewsbury's Edwin B. "Ted" Coghlin has devoted much of his life to helping children, whether through his work on school building committees or the Boy Scouts, because he said he truly believes in helping develop their minds for the future.
"From that point of view it's selfish," Coghlin said. "They're the future and better education leads to a better future."
Coghlin is set to be honored by both Shrewsbury Youth & Family Services (SYFS) and the Shrewsbury Education Foundation (SEF) in the next couple of months.
SYFS will be presenting Coghlin with their Harry S. Cutting Jr. Award at their annual gala in February. This award honors those who embody the spirit of giving, community service and support for the Shrewsbury community. This year's Gala theme is "Celebrating an Innovator for our Time."
SEF will be awarding Coghlin with their Community Service Award at their dinner in January when they will also honor the educators who have been selected to receive grants for classroom and district enrichment. This award is granted to an individual who has made a notable difference in public education.
"I'm honored by both awards," Coghlin said. "Especially with the SYFS, the award is a surprise since there are so many others that qualify."
Coghlin was born and raised in Worcester and, prior to transferring the family business to his daughter, he ran Coghlin Construction Services. These businesses have served the Worcester area for over 125 years through four generations.
"My role has always been to surround myself with good people and success will occur," Coghlin said.
When it comes to the schools, Coghlin's work began on the school buildings in town has spanned generations. He started with helping in the building of the Sherwood Middle School in 1964. After that, he worked on building committees for a number of community buildings including Floral Street School and Town Hall.
Coghlin hasn't just been involved in the schools in Shrewsbury, but also dedicated much of his time as a member of the Worcester Technical High School Board and was a part of getting their school rebuilt.
"In Worcester it was a 20 year effort," Coghlin recalled. "The success of the students has been wonderful. Sadly, we can only accept one of every two students that apply."
When it comes to schools, Coghlin's motto is "rigor and relevance," consistently demanding better performance and teaching the material students need to know.
Participating in Boy Scouts is another way Coghlin has worked to benefit local youths. He has been a Cub Scout Master up through president of the local Boy Scout Council.
"The influence Cub Scouting had on me at seven years old still registers with me 70 years later," Coghlin said, noting that he still follows the 12 principals. "If you look at those words it means you would have kept yourself in good health, used your brain and been morally straight."
Coghlin said teaching kids that philosophy when they're young will encourage them to make the right choices throughout life.
Although Coghlin has used most of his efforts to help children, he said he has tried not to neglect his other community duties, including helping at the Senior Center and as a member of St. Mary's parish.
"I try to do what's right and set an example for others," Coghlin said. "The most rewarding thing is seeing others go forward with that example. You do what you can, you help where you can."
Coghlin attributes his charitable nature to his two wonderful parents and growing up in a large family, which taught him responsibility.
"There's no 'me' it's 'we,'" Coghlin said. "If more young people work together, the world will be a better place."