‘Cause he’s the tax return man
During tax season, Hap Conolly is the man of the hour.Conolly – a High Country RSVP volunteer for the last 15 years – donates close to 150 hours each year to help people with their taxes. “Everybody enjoys him. He’s just such a gentle soul, from the old old school,” RSVP program director Cheryl Cain said. “He’s one of those people who’ll take two hours if he needs it to work on somebody’s taxes.”And it all started because he had some extra time on his hands.”When my youngest son was out here, he turned my name in because he said I didn’t have enough work to do,” said Conolly, 83.
Conolly, who worked as an executive in the finance industry, has lived in the U.S. and abroad, in cities such as Paris, France; Tucson, Ariz.; and Evergreen and Golden, Colo. He and his wife, Nancy, live in Glenwood Springs during the winter. They reside in Noank, Conn., from mid-April until the end of December.”The winter months we’re here – we’re winding up our 18th year,” he said. “We’ve enjoyed the people here. We’ve made a lot of friends, primarily through the 100 Club … we’re charter members.”The Conollys chose Glenwood as their second home because they enjoy the mountains and skiing. One of Hap Conolly’s Delta Upsilon fraternity brothers from Syracuse University turned him on to the idea.”We got here by accident,” he said. “My fraternity brother and roommate from college came out to Aspen for a week and relocated here.”Hap and Nancy Conolly met in college, five days before she graduated in 1947. He graduated in ’48, and the couple married in 1950. He went to graduate school at Harvard University, studying accounting and finance.”People thought we had dated all through college,” he said, of his wife of nearly more than five decades.
Before college, Hap Conolly served in World War II. Like presidential candidate Bob Dole, he was a member of the Army’s Enlisted Reserve Corps. “I’m a veteran … as Archie Bunker would say of ‘The Big One,'” Conolly said. “I enlisted on Dec. 7, 1942, and was called into active duty in the middle of my second semester of my freshman year (at Syracuse). I remember the guy next door waved good-bye to me – his grades were too bad to go.”After serving stateside, Conolly was sent to New Guinea and the Philippines. He recalled a poignant moment in U.S. history.”I was in Manila when we brought in the Japanese war criminals for the trials,” he said. “I saw them get off the plane.”Conolly was in the hospital on V-J Day (Victory over Japan Day, Aug. 15, 1945).”I had yellow jaundice and infectious hepatitis,” he said. “A lot of people did because of the infectious water supply.”
With his war days behind him, Conolly set his sights on college and later on building a successful career in business. He’s the father of five children, four of whom live in New York state, and one in Boston.And, after all these years, he still does his own taxes.”We get a refresher course every January,” he said. “That’s a fringe benefit of the job.”That’s not his only motivation to return every tax season as a volunteer.”I like helping people. I’ve met so many different people in this job – I’ve got repeat clients,” he said. “I’m actually amazed how people can exist. One of my clients made $7,500 one year.”Cain said Conolly is so popular as a volunteer, she wished there were more of him to go around at Colorado Mountain College’s Lucy Huntley Senior Center. Conolly’s dedication earned him a Garfield County Humanitarian Awards nomination in this year’s senior volunteer category.
“If we could clone him in 50 different ways, we would do it in a heartbeat,” she said.Contact April Clark: 945-8515, ext. email@example.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO
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