Harold William Corrigan’s greatest strengths were his honesty, strong principles and love for family and friends. A sincere concern for young people was the hallmark of his lifelong career as a physical education teacher. Mr. Corrigan believed that developing a healthy lifestyle at an early age is important.
Born in 1907, Mr. Corrigan was raised in Milwaukee, where he attended public schools. He spent much of his spare time at the local YMCA where he developed his love for sports and belief in discipline and good sportsmanship.
Summers were spent with his brother and four cousins on a farm in Waupun, Wisconsin, or working as a waterfront director at boys' camps around the state.
Harold Corrigan loved sports, particularly swimming and tennis. He was a diver and admitted to being a risk taker while perfecting his art. “You have to be sort of silly to climb up on a high board and dive off while performing acrobatics in the air,” he said. His love for such adventure was evident when you spoke to him.
Mr. Corrigan graduated from the University of Wisconsin at LaCrosse with a physical education major. After receiving his master’s from the University of Colorado, he took a job in Waukesha, Wisconsin teaching PE to junior high school students.
World War II interrupted Mr. Corrigan’s teaching career. He went to officers' candidate school in Miami and served in the United States and England as a special services officer. He enjoyed those years and was offered opportunities for additional education at Washington and Lee University and the University of Paris.
Back in Waukesha after the service, Mr. Corrigan met and married Elinor Hicken. “We had a wonderful life together,” he said. He joined Rotary, became a Paul Harris Fellow and started a program of inviting high school junior to Rotary meetings.
Harold Corrigan became supervisor of physical education for area elementary schools and instituted after school and Saturday morning intramural sports programs. At PTA meetings, he was known to stress the importance of exercise and discipline for the healthy development of mind and body. He believed that when a child received attention at home, he was never a behavior problem at school and, in fact, tended to excel in academics and was a success later in life. Those children who grew up on farms, working on chores together with other family members, had a better outlook on life than those young people who were not given such responsibility.
Family was important to Mr. Corrigan, and he believed that many of today’s problems could be solved if the fabric of the family were strengthened. It is in the family where a child learns to respect others and assume responsibilities for his own behavior.
Mr. Corrigan’s ideal community, his “Shangri La,” as he called it, would not differ much from the Sun City Center community he called home until his death in 2005 at 98. The most important part of any community is the people in it – caring people who look out for one another. His ideal town would offer good education and teachers who nurture the students.
When asked what wish he would want granted, he said, “If I could change things, I would wish that the good things in life would be more abundant for all people.”
Mr. Corrigan set up his fund in the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay because he felt the Foundation was capable of making a difference in people’s lives. He saw the Foundation as a way to have wishes granted. His fund was captioned: “With a vision for a healthier tomorrow to help shape answers to today’s problems.”
Mr. Corrigan said he believed as did Teddy Roosevelt, that “what a man does for himself dies with him. What he does for his community lives long after he’s gone.”