A prominent area businessman and a well-known sportswriter will be honored at American International College’s (AIC) commencement ceremony.
Edward J. Noonan of Wilbraham, AIC Class of 1974, chairman of Noonan Energy Corp., and Garry P. Brown of Wilbraham, AIC class of 1955, a sportswriter for the Springfield Republican for more than 60 years, will receive honorary doctoral degrees at the ceremony.
More than 1,500 undergraduate and graduate degrees will be awarded at the ceremony Sunday, May 18, 3:00 p.m. at the MassMutual Center.
AIC President Vince Maniaci, said the college is proud to have two of its own recognized at this year’s commencement ceremony. “Garry Brown has been an institution in sports journalism for more than 50 years, and he has always been a staunch supporter of his alma mater. Ed Noonan has also made the most of his AIC education, growing one of the largest and most successful oil companies in the region. We are also indebted to him for his years of service on the AIC Board of Trustees.”
Noonan, a native of Springfield, grew up just a few blocks from AIC, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in 1974. He has served on the AIC Board of Trustees since 1997. While a student at AIC, Noonan borrowed five thousand dollars from his father in order to buy his own small oil business, Palmer Coal and Oil. Since that time he has turned Noonan Energy into one of the largest home heating oil companies in the state, serving in excess of 10,000 customers.
Noonan was elected to the Palmer Board of Selectmen, becoming one of the youngest selectmen to ever serve. He went on to serve as Palmer Town Moderator for 10 years, with many years devoted to local business and civic organizations.
In 2008, Noonan was honored by the Springfield Saint Patrick’s Day Parade Committee with its Appreciation Award for his many years of support to the committee. In 2013, he was selected as the Springfield Saint Patrick’s Day Parade Marshall.
Brown grew up in Ludlow and graduated from AIC in 1955. He started working for the Springfield Newspapers in 1951, where he covered sports for 59 years until his retirement in 2009.
Brown is still working for The Republican as a regular freelance writing contributor.
He has covered all the major sports, including the 1967, 1975, 1986 and 2004 World Series involving the Boston Red Sox, and has also covered local college and high school teams.
Recently elected to the Western Massachusetts Baseball Hall of Fame as a contributor, Brown has received several awards for his sportswriting, including the Dave O'Hara Award, presented in 2003 by the Boston Chapter, Baseball Writers of America, for long and meritorious service; New England Press Association Award, 2001, for first place in column writing; Harold M. "Kid" Gore Award in 1998, for long-time coverage of high school basketball; American Legion national and state awards for coverage of American Legion baseball.