Capt. Jerry Drugonis Memorial Scholarship Fund
Est. in 2021 as a scholarship fund by the Drugonis Family.
When Jerry Drugonis graduated from Seymour High in 1954, he never thought he’d ever go back to school again. After all, the headstrong teenager and school just didn’t mix well.
“He hated being told what to do, so he didn’t like school at all,” said his daughter-in-law, and Seymour First Selectwoman, Annmarie Drugonis. “But all that seemed to change after he went into the Marine Corps.”
It would be his military service, some stateside and some overseas in the Korean War, that taught Jerry about discipline and pushed him to eventually further his education.
As soon as he was out of the military, after a brief stint at Sikorsky and Pratt & Whitney, he applied for a job with the Connecticut State Police and graduated from the academy in 1960.
Soon after he joined the state police, he married his beloved Arline Popikas, they started a family, and for 29 years, Jerry Drugonis worked as a state trooper. He climbed the career ladder reaching a coveted captain’s rank.
Somehow along the way, and even though a college degree was not required at the time for troopers, he went back to school. First, he earned his associate degree in police science, then a bachelor’s in business administration, and finally a master’s in criminal justice.
He served locally too. He was on the Seymour Police Commission and served more than a decade in the Seymour Fire Department as a member of the Great Hill Hose Company.
His family says as much as he loved being a state police officer, his passion may have been teaching. The once school-hating teenager went on to be an adjunct teacher of criminal justice at the University of New Haven, his alma mater.
In the spring of 2021, after Jerry died, Arline and their sons Christopher and Matthew, daughter-in-law, Annmarie and granddaughter, Alana, decided to create a scholarship fund at the Valley Community Foundation for students who plan to pursue careers in law enforcement or the criminal forensics field.
“Dad was always about educating and learning,” Annmarie said. “So, this scholarship is always going to be there, and I think he would really be proud and happy knowing that.”
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