Honorable Thomas Sumners Jr ’76
“Everything that you heard about me is correct,” began Judge Sumners, to the roar of laughter.
After a series of humorous recollections and anecdotes, Judge Sumners, who grew up in Trenton, New Jersey, became serious and said, “In my neighborhood, we spoke different, we dressed different; we listened to different music. And, even though it was only 10 miles from here to there, it could have been a million miles. But, I was able to transition. I came here because my parents felt that it would be better for me. And they made a lot of sacrifices for us to do that. And, my brothers and I are forever indebted. My wife and I decided to make the same sacrifices for my kids and that is because of the role models I had in my parents.”
“When you put a kid in this situation, sometimes you put them outside of their comfort zone. And, a lot of us don’t like that. But, it was probably the best thing for me because, it taught me how to deal with strange environments. If you’re not taught how to deal with strange environments, then you’re not going to succeed in life. Because, every time you walk in the room you’re not going to know everybody. And, everybody is not going to look like you.”
After graduating from The Hun School Judge Sumners attended Lafayette College and earned his Juris Doctorate from Rutgers Law. Judge Sumners began his career as an attorney for Lemuel H Blacburn, Jr. and Associates, before opening his own practice in 1990. The firm developed into Sumners, Council, George, P.C., which was the largest minority-owned firm at the time. The firm closed in 2008, when all named partners became judges.
New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine nominated Mr. Sumners, who was sworn into office as a Judge in the Superior Court of New Jersey on May 27, 2008. He was assigned to the civil bench in Mercer County until 2011, when he was transferred to the criminal bench. On August 1, 2014, New Jersey Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart H. Rabner appointed Judge Sumners to the Appellate Division of New Jersey’s Superior Court.
Throughout his comments, Judge Sumners referred often to the influence and support of his family. He even joked that he could have filled the room with aunts, uncles, and cousins.
“My aunts and uncles gave us constant support and constant love. When I look back at Hun and think of why I fell in love with Hun, it was because I felt that same sense of family. I’m proud of the fact that Hun became another family for my kids, brothers, my cousins, nephew, and me.
“As I recall, even my father said he felt a sense of family here, unlike another school we looked at. That’s why we came here and that’s why we are still here all those years later.”
Prior to his appointment to the bench, Judge Sumners served on various committees and community non-profit boards, including The Hun School of Princeton Board of Trustees, founding member and President of the Urban League’s Young Professionals for Progress, Princeton Area Community Foundation, Trenton Community Music School, George Washington Council Boy Scouts of America, Princeton Area Chapter of the American Red Cross, Granville Academy of Trenton, Inc. as its President and CEO, Mercer Council on Alcoholism and Drug Addiction, Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Mercer County, Lafayette College Graduate Chapter of Association of Black Collegians as its President, the New Jersey Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection, American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Client Protection, District VII Ethics Committee, and New Jersey State Bar Prosecutorial and Judicial Appointments Committee as its Chairman. He also served as a Commissioner on the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission.
In reference to the many groups and organizations he supports, Judge Sumners said, “People sometimes say, ‘Why do you do all that?’ I try to emulate the late great Arthur Ash. I heard him say once, ‘If you can help someone, you should do it.”
Judge Sumners received The Hun School’s Distinguished Alumnus award in 1993 and the Meritorious Service award in 1997 and 2009. He is a former member of the school’s Alumni Board, Board of Trustees and Education Committee. He has served as volunteer coach, a resident community guest speaker, a Career Day speaker, and was instrumental in establishing The Brothers of Hun group. He continues to remain involved as a Reunion Ambassador, a member of the Athletic Hall of Fame Committee and Alumni of Color group.
Michael Guadagno ’71
When Mr. Guadagno learned that he would be honored as a Distinguished Alumnus during Alumni Weekend, he did some soul searching. With his trademark humility, he questioned whether or not he was deserving, especially given the accomplishments of some of his peers. Ultimately he settled into the idea, deciding that his dedication as a husband, father, and professional distinguished him enough.
But then the announcement of his honor became public and Mr. Guadagno heard from a few old friends, one of whom called to “congratulate him.” He chronicled the reflections that followed during his acceptance speech on Friday night –
“After few minutes of laughter and Dirk’s (Whitehead ’71) less than flattering comments about me personally and the reminders of our some of our not so distinguished moments at school, it became pretty obvious to me that I needed to check my ego and realize that what I am really doing up here is being honored as a representative of the Class of 1971. An example of what Hun formed, molded and nurtured.
“My classmates are men who became doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs, teachers, coaches, police officers, husbands, and fathers. They are men who have very long lists of quality achievements in their lives and careers. They are men I admire and I am very glad to call my friends. In 1971 I believe we were young men – lucky enough to have some moments of clarity in our rebellious, confused, and tough teenage minds to be open to the extraordinary Hun experience in the classrooms and on the fields. With that realization, I feel somewhat comfortable to be here.”
Michael Guadagno, a member of The Hun School Board of Trustees, was first inducted into the School’s Athletic hall of Fame for his prowess in football, basketball, and baseball. Since graduating from Hun in 1971, Mr. Guadgno has remained a steadfast volunteer and supporter. After attending Lafayette College, he began a career on Wall Street. Thirty-four years later he retired as Executive Vice President of the firm he started with, ICAP, LLC, which is now one of the world’s largest institutional brokerage firms. He also served as North American head of ICAP’s Energy Trading Department and was a member of both the North American and International Board of Directors.
After he retired from ICAP, he was asked to help build the Mint Partners North American Equities Derivatives Desk. Mr. Guadagno retired from Mint Partners in 2014.
“I always point to my four years at Hun as some of the most significant years of my life. When Dr. Chesebro was kind enough to offer me the financial aid that allowed me to attend The Hun School, I knew things would be different; but I had no idea how dramatically different my life would be. The education I received, the life- long friendships I made, along with the kindness and guidance from teachers, administrators, coaches and staff became major influences in the path of my life. I can point to that morning in the headmaster’s office in 1967 and say that the ability to attend Hun was a key part of the successes in my life.”
Mr. Guadagno and his wife, Claire, raised their family in Short Hills, New Jersey. They currently reside in Connecticut, New Jersey, and Florida, where they enjoy golf and life by the lake. They enjoy spending time with their children, Matthew, Andrew and Maureen who all live and work for investment firms in the New York metropolitan area.