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Charlie Corso became the new commander of American Legion Griswold Post 79 last June. As commander, he is embarking on a fundraising effort for the renovation of the Legion post building at 43 Bradley Road, Madison. (Photo by Maria Caulfield/The Source | Buy This Photo)
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As the new commander of the American Legion Griswold Post 79, Charles Corso keeps his eye on a new sign installed outside the post at 43 Bradley Road, Madison. The sign shows a fundraising thermometer that tracks donations to renovate the building, which was constructed in 1935.
“My main objective this year as the new post commander will be to manage a $100,000 [Legion] Post building renovation campaign,” Charlie says. “The goal is to completely renovate the outside of the building in keeping with the look of the newer [Madison] Senior Center. I know it is a very ambitious undertaking, but hopefully, the veterans and citizens of Madison will contribute to make their American Legion Post one to be proud of.”
His dedication to the American Legion is known in town. He succeeded Donna Farrell as commander last June, but his involvement with the Legion spans years back. He began as a member on the state level and then shifted his involvement to the local level.
“I have a deep passion to work for and with veterans. I am a member of the Post Honor Guard, which performs military honors at veterans’ funerals. To date, the Madison Post has performed more than 3,800 funeral honors, of which I am proud to have participated in 704 honors,” he says.
Former commander Farrell worked with Charlie on many events. She calls him “a person you can always count on for help with anything. Charlie is a very active member of our community. He is never without a smile or his sense of wit—a great guy to have your back [and a] very patriotic individual.”
According to its website, the American Legion is the nation’s largest veterans services group. It was chartered and incorporated by Congress in 1919 as a patriotic veterans organization and helps communities by assisting veterans, mentoring youth, providing college scholarships to deserving students, and advocating patriotism and honor.
Griswold Post 79 is named after Marvin Hall Griswold, a Madison resident who gave his life on the battlefields of France on Sept. 26, 1918. The Griswold Post in Madison was chartered in February 1920.
“The Madison American Legion Post has a long and memorable history in this town, not only supporting veterans with comradeship, but helping veterans in need,” Charlie explains. “The Madison post was the only means of ambulance service in town prior to the present Madison Ambulance Service.”
He adds that the post has supported many other service groups and activities over the years including Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, various state programs, veterans’ sporting activities, and the Madison Food Pantry. Of course, it also leads in patriotic events such as the Memorial Day and Veterans Day activities.
Today, there are some 100 members at the post, although active members are only a portion of that number. Charlie says the post always welcomes new members.
Donations for the renovation of the American Legion Griswold Post 79 building can be sent to American Legion Building Renovation Fund, P.O. Box 504, Madison, CT 06443. For other ways to donate to the fund or for information about joining the post, call Charlie at 203-623-6351. For more information about Griswold Post 79, visit americanlegionpost79ct.com.
Charlie’s involvement in town doesn’t end with the American Legion.
In fact, he figuratively—and quite literally—wears different hats in town. A few of the service organizations he joined involves wearing some sort of head gear.
He even wears bunny ears and a full bunny costume every year.
That’s because Charlie plays the role of the Easter Bunny as a member of the Exchange Club of Madison at the organization’s Easter egg hunt.
In 1974, he moved to Madison from New Haven. It was the same year he joined the Exchange Club of Madison.
From 1978 to 1979, he served as the president of the Exchange Club. He also worked on the board of directors and co-chaired many committees.
“I am still an active member,” he says.
“Being involved with the Exchange [Club] in Madison gave me the opportunity to meet all ages [of people] in the community,” Charlie recalls. “In the early years, I was the chairman of the Kids Games Committee on the Fourth of July at the Surf Club. I was then, and still now the chairman of the Exchange Club Easter Egg Hunt, and I’ve been the Easter Bunny at that event every year for the past 40 [years].”
He believes that the Exchange Club is one of the most active volunteer service organizations in Madison. Indeed, the Exchange Club of Madison is part of a national network of volunteers who serve Connecticut and the greater Madison-Guilford area through established programs of community service and youth activities.
Founded in 1951, it is involved in the four areas of Americanism, community service, youth projects, and child abuse prevention.
Among its activities in Madison, it presents youth of the month awards to seniors of Daniel Hand High School who attain high levels of academic achievement, community service, and leadership. It sponsors organizations and events such as the Veterans Operation American Soldier, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, American Legion, Bauer Farm, the Madison Food Pantry, Nite in Hand, the Madison Ambulance Association, and Project Give a Kid a Flag to Wave. The Exchange Club also organizes the Fourth of July Parade in Madison.
In addition, Charlie is a member of the Westbrook Elks Club, for which he serves in the veterans committee, raising monies for veterans in need.
Sports also plays a big part in Charlie’s involvement in town.
“I’ve been playing baseball since I was nine years old, so when I moved to Madison, I immediately joined the men’s softball night league. I played every year continuously for the Madison Madmen, until this year. I was probably the oldest recorded men’s league player at 75 years old. For the past 10 years and while I played in the night men’s league, I also play in the Madison Senior Softball league, which plays during the summer days. I am presently on the Senior Softball Board of Directors,” Charlie explains.
Friends also know him to be a collector of classic automobiles.
“I have seven cars in my collection, which range from 1936 through 1974,” he says.
In addition, he joined a small group of local wine makers; the group has been making wine for more than 12 years.
Professionally, Charlie started as an apprentice in 1964 with the Ed-Mor Electric Company. For 40 years, he worked his way up and retired from Ed-Mor as vice president of field operations.
He served in the military during the Vietnam War, fulfilling his obligation in the U.S. Army Active Reserve from 1964 to 1970 with the 340th General Hospital Unit.
But perhaps his most fulfilling job is as a dad—he is father to six daughters, Christina, Melissa, Kate, Shanna, Surrenity, and Sharon.
Even with his children grown, his volunteer work to his country and the town of Madison allow him to teach them to be civic-minded, selfless, and dedicated to a cause greater than oneself.
“The thing that occupies most of my everyday time is the work I do with my association with the service clubs I belong to,” he says.
“I love this town, and will give all my best energies to continue to make it a place to enjoy and to raise good citizens,” he adds.
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The 2020 guide to the Madison Chamber of Commerce has arrived!