Southington Knights of Columbus honor four locals

Knights of Columbus

Four Southington residents from four local churches will be honored by the Knights of Columbus Assembly 122 in recognition of their many years of service to their parish and community. Carmel Avitable (St. Thomas), Walter Hushak (St. Aloysius), Michael Soltys (Saint Dominic), and Robin Taillie (Mary Our Queen) will be presented the Catholic Citizens Award.

The award is presented by the Southington Knights of Columbus to members of local parishes that have given years of service to their faith community, as well as their extended community.

The event is scheduled for Saturday, May 9, at 7 p.m., at Southington Country Club’s Back Nine Tavern. Reservations are $25 per person. Contact the event coordinator, Phil Mazzati, at (203) 395-4381 or

Carmen Avitabile

Carmen Avitabile

Avitable’s family has been parishioners of St. Thomas parish for 125 years (since 1880), and she has carried on the family tradition. She has been an active member of the Dominican Associates of Peace, affiliated with Albertus Magnus College, with twenty two active associates in her parish. She has served on the Ecumenical Council of the Dominican Community in Columbus, Ohio .During the past seven years, she has taught eighth grade religious education at St. Aloysius parish. Since 1982, she has been the facilitator of the Archdiocesan “New Day” program for those who have lost a loved one in death. Two sessions are held yearly at Mary Our Queen Parish.

Hushak is a lifelong resident of Southington and a graduate of Lewis High School Class of 1941. He enlisted in the US army air corps in December 1942, completed pilot training, was commissioned a Second Lieutenant, and received pilots wings at age 20 before being assigned to a B-24 liberator bomber crew of 10 men in the 7th air force 30th bomb group. After active duty, he served in the Air Force Reserve for 27 years before retiring with the rank of Lieutenant colonel.

Walter Hushak

Walter Hushak

Hushak worked his way up to vice president at Peck, Stow and Wilcox before joining Janazzo Heating & Air Conditioning in Milldale for almost three decades. He served as director and board chairman at Southington Savings Bank, as director of Southington Chamber of Commerce, and served two terms on the town council. He was director of Southington YMCA, a member of the Bradley Memorial Board, president of the Rotary Club of Southington, a member of the American Legion Kiltonic Post 72, and trustee at St. Aloysius Church.

He also served on Southington’s ethics committee, as chairman of the Red Cross Home service, an organizer of the Red Cross Industrial Blood Donor Program, and served as a coordinator for Collings Foundation of Stow Massachusetts of World War II for 24 years, restoring aircraft. He continues to do speeking engagements throughout the area.

Soltys and his wife, Teresa, are both active members of St. Dominic Church. Soltys has been a lector for years at Sunday and special masses and coordinates the St. Dominic Nourishes program feeding the local hungry. His years of service to the parish are highlighted by eight years as a Confirmation mentor, his service on the Parish Council, including a position as vice president.

Michael Soltys

Michael Soltys

He is currently serving as board chairman at Bread for Life, and he is an advisor for Youth Journalism International and a mentor for UConn’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. His family recently launched an endowed scholarship at UConn which awards an annual scholarship to a student pursuing sports information.

Soltys played a central role in the opening the Imagine Nation Children’s Museum in Bristol. He has served as a board member at the Southington Chamber of Commerce, and has coached a number of Southington youth sports. He has been honored as Media Relations Professional of the Year (2005), the U.S. Basketball Writers Association’s Katha Quinn Award for service (2008), the Southington Chamber of  Commerce Gail DePaolo Community Spirit Award (2011), and the Compass Award from the Southington YMCA (2013).

In 1980, he was the first intern hired by ESPN, and since 2003 he has served as Vice President, Communications.

Taillie has been a resident of Southington for the past 20 years, having moved here from Waterbury with her husband John, and their three young children. While raising their children, Robin’s career in accounting, development and admissions was offset with various volunteering for both civic and Catholic school organizations.

Robin Taillie

Robin Taillie

Robin served on the board for Southington South Youth Athletic Association (SSYAA) as secretary, and managed the concession stand at Recreation Park Baseball field for seven years. While her children attended St. Bridget School in Cheshire, she served on the Home and School Association Board as Secretary, Treasurer, and Special Projects Chairperson. She began the Development/Advancement Department at the school and helped increase the enrollment of students to more than 400 children for the Pre-K to 8th grade elementary school.

Taillie received the H.O.P.E.S. (Help Our Parish Elementary Schools) award for her work at St. Bridget School from the Archdiocese of Hartford.  Robin served on the school board of Xavier High School in Middletown for three years, two years as the chairperson for the Advancement Committee, and later served on the Capital Campaign Cabinet for the $8 million building campaign.

She completed the RCIA program in 1999, and has held several positions for various ministries of the church. Robin has taught CCD and Confirmation classes, has served as a lector and greeter, served on the Pastoral Council, chaired the 50th anniversary celebration committee, serves on the scholarship committee, is a member of the knitting ministry, with the help of the youth ministry, organized the Drive-thru Living Nativity for 8 years, and currently serves as the President of Our Lady’s Guild.

She has been a volunteer for Southington Community Services since 2007 and volunteers for 8 to 10 hours weekly. As a representative of SCS, she has organized many of the holiday programs at Mary Our Queen which benefit Southington residents.

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