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Dancing through life: Gary '78 and Cynthia Hawley

Gary ’78 and Cynthia Hawley are Danbury natives committed to living life to its fullest- whether it is through running a family business, volunteering within the community or dancing competitively.

Danbury has always been their home; their four children were born and raised here as well.  Both attended Western Connecticut State University and Gary Hawley graduated in 1978 with a degree in business. A year later, he took over as owner and operator for his father’s business, Hawley Construction Corporation. “Growing up, I always worked for my dad, but my intention was never to stay here,” Hawley said. “When the opportunity presented itself though, I chose to run with it.”

The leadership transition came very naturally for Mr. Hawley, who gradually transformed Hawley Construction into a more commercially based company. Hawley Construction Corp. grew by bringing more family members on board and taking on larger projects, all while maintaining its culture as a local, family-owned business.

“The biggest advantage of being a family company is your reputation,” Hawley explained. “As long as you put out a good product and people trust you, that reputation will get you through so many doors; people won’t be afraid to hire you.”  In the past thirty years, strong leadership and connections have allowed the company to expand its clientele throughout the state of Connecticut.

Gary’s wife, Cynthia, has also played a significant role in the success. “To be a mother of four children is not an easy task and her compassion and care for this family allowed me to move forward with the company,” Hawley explained.

For Cynthia Hawley, her passion has been in being a mother and wife, as well as a contributor to the community. “I have always felt better doing something for someone else,” Ms. Hawley said. “It is a natural feel-good for me and allows my children to truly appreciate where things come from.”

Locally, Ms. Hawley has worked with the Danbury Food Pantry and the planning of the Danbury Hospital golf tournaments. Additionally, Mr. Hawley has served on many local community boards that work toward the advancement of Danbury. The two also have continued to be involved heavily with Western through the years.

Mr. Hawley is a current member of the Western Foundation Board and the Business Advisory Committee as well. Their proudest joint contribution at WCSU has been the Hawley Family Endowed Scholarship. Established in 2002, the scholarship is open to Danbury residents who attended one of three local high schools (Danbury High, Henry Abbott Tech or Immaculate), have maintained at least a 3.0 GPA and plan to attend Western as a business major. The Hawleys agree that this scholarship was important in getting back to their roots and providing an opportunity to a fellow community member. “It is nice to see younger generations with similar passions and to be able to help them pursue their dreams,” Mr. Hawley said.

Though the Hawleys have busy agendas, they take special interest in ballroom dancing, which has become more than just a hobby.

“I have always wanted to ballroom dance- it was my husband that needed a little extra convincing,” Ms. Hawley joked. “Once my daughter began planning her wedding, it gave me an excuse to sign up both of us for lessons.”

Surprisingly, dancing became an instant hit for Mr. Hawley, who eventually encouraged his wife to consider taking up the activity competitively. To date, the two have entered several competitions with their instructors. “Our coaches at Fred Astaire in Brookfield are young, happy and very passionate about what they do, which makes learning easy and enjoyable,” Ms. Hawley said.

Dancing has required great discipline and patience from the couple. The two practice individually with their coaches a few times a week, and get together at least once a week as a couple. Additionally, they noted, every weekend there is an opportunity to go somewhere and be a part of the ballroom world. Together, the Hawleys have traveled throughout Connecticut and taken part in two competitions.

“Dancing has given our kids a lot to laugh about, but it really has taught me about how much the two of us care for each other,” Mr. Hawley explained.

“My goal is to dance with Gary more competitively because we get such enjoyment out of being together and doing something that is just for us and our personal enjoyment,” Ms. Hawley said.

The future of their family business is an ever present concern. Mr. Hawley hopes that when the time is right, the business will be able to remain in the family and be passed down to the next generation.

“We’ve always strived to be a hardworking, honest family that respects one another, our company and community,” Mr. Hawley said. “We want to keep that mentality, help Danbury grow and see the best possible opportunities come this way.”

 Cover Photo: Western President James W. Schmotter presents the 2006-2007 WCSU Foundation Community Service  Award  to members of the Hawley family at the WestConn Society Luncheon.

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