MERIDEN — One of the first officers assigned to Meriden’s community policing division, an architect of the city’s housing policy, and a political pioneer were inducted into the Meriden Hall of Fame Sunday afternoon.
The organization’s 42nd annual induction ceremony was held at the Augusta Curtis Cultural Center on East Main Street. Over 100 people attended to pay tribute to the civic careers of three city residents: Robert D. McNulty, 91, the former executive director of Meriden Housing Authority; Hector Cardona Sr., 64, a 31-year veteran of the Meriden Police Department; and Amelia Mustone, 90, who served in the Connecticut State Senate for 16 years.
“I look forward to this every year,” said Mayor Kevin Scarpati. “These three individuals have made an impact on Meriden’s landscape and the people who have lived here all these years.”
McNulty, save his years in the United States Navy in World War II and at the University of Niagara, spent his entire life in Meriden. His son Peter McNulty outlined his father’s lengthy career improving housing opportunities all across the city. He knew the people served by the housing authority by name and sought to deal with them with compassion and empathy, Peter McNulty said.
“All of my efforts were to try to make Meriden a better place to live,” Robert McNulty said after expressing his gratitude for the honor.
Marisol Chang, Cardona’s daughter, spoke of her father’s availability to the community through his work with the police, his contributions to myriad civic organizations, and his leadership role in the Hispanic community. Everyone in town had his phone number and didn't hesitate to call upon him in their times of need.
In 1986, when the city began its community policing efforts, Cardona was assigned to the Mills Memorial Apartments at a time when the gang presence in the public housing complex was especially high. It was an assignment he welcomed. Cardona grew up in the Mills and recalled that his father was strict with him, something that benefited him throughout his own life and in his relationships with his own children.
“In order for you to be good with people, you have to be good with yourself,” Cardona said. “I am the root of my family and if the root is not good the branches will not flourish.”
Amelia Mustone was a trailblazer in the Connecticut Senate, serving from 1978 to 1994, and rising to a leadership role in an era when it was extraordinarily difficult for women to do so.
John Mustone, Amelia’s husband, spoke of her political career a series of choices – “one door closes and another one opens” was the theme of his remarks.
She relocated from Massachusetts to Meriden for his career. Neither anticipated that getting involved with the League of Women Voters would lead to Amelia eventually becoming the deputy majority leader in the Connecticut Senate. She had a reputation for being able to make tough decisions and elicit bipartisan support.
“I began to see politics in a much larger scale,” Amelia Mustone said.
Father James Manship, of St. Rose of Lima Church, noted in his closing benediction that it was fitting the ceremony take place in the Curtis Center, which was the city’s first library.
“These people are living volumes of great wisdom, of great stories, really concrete stories deep in the roots of Meriden,” Manship said. “We all have a continued responsibility to write the story of Meriden.”