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Alumni Awards

2017 Alumni Award Recipients

Distinguished Alumnus of the Year: The Hon. Walter Stapleton '52

Judge Walter Stapleton ’52 is a pillar of the Wilmington community, serving as a federal judge for 46 years. Beginning his legal career as a successful corporate attorney, his decision to shift his focus to public service was strongly influenced by his experience at WFS. In addition to his professional accomplishments, Judge Stapleton has been involved with numerous non-profit organizations, including Wilmington Friends School.

After graduating from WFS, Judge Stapleton continued on to Princeton University for his B.A., Harvard Law School, and the University of Virginia for a Masters degree in the Judicial Process. He began his legal career as an Associate at Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell, and later was promoted to Partner. He briefly served as the Deputy Attorney General of the State of Delaware, and then began his appointed career in the judicial system, being appointed Judge to the United States District Court for the District of Delaware. He later served as Chief Judge of the District Court and Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Walt is still with the Third Circuit, currently serving as a Senior Judge.

Along with his professional positions, Walt has served on numerous judicial committees, many of which required appointment by the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, and taught at several prestigious Law Schools, including Harvard, University of Pennsylvania, and Duke.

Judge Stapleton has been the recipient of several awards. He was recognized as “Classmate of the Year,” by his Princeton class, given an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Delaware, and also received the Delaware State Bar Association First State Distinguished Service Award. In 2014, Judge Stapleton received the prestigious American Inns of Court Professionalism Award, “given to a person who demonstrates integrity, professionalism, and dedication to the highest standards of the legal profession.” This award is given to one lawyer or judge from each circuit, and the 13 recipients are honored at the United States Supreme Court.

In addition to Judge Stapleton’s impressive professional career, he’s also been involved with several non-profit organizations. He’s served as a Board Member for WFS, American Baptist Churches, Habitat for Humanity of Northern Delaware, and Buck & Doe Trust, Inc. (A natural resource conservation in the Brandywine Valley.) Judge Stapleton was also an active member in the Republican Party in New Castle County and a founding member of the Big Brothers Association of Northern Delaware. He is currently actively engaged with Silverside Church of Wilmington as a member and officer.

Judge Stapleton reflects fondly on his time at WFS, and credits the school with teaching him “things that are important to a meaningful life,” one of the reasons he choose to send his children to WFS. He learned the importance of service to others and what it means to be committed to one’s work, as well as more pragmatic skills like writing persuasively yet tersely, editing, and thinking through difficult problems. He gained an appreciation for silence and freedom of thought, and he hopes WFS “will continue the tradition it has created and maintained so well in the past.” We are humbled to call Judge Stapleton one of our own and are thrilled to honor him with the Distinguished Alumnus award.

Outstanding Service Alumnus Award: Tim Gibbs '76

Tim Gibbs ’76 has dedicated his life to serving the community, both through his professional and volunteer roles. Currently serving as the Executive Director of the Delaware Academy of Medicine/Delaware Public Health Association, Tim has worked tirelessly to improve several healthcare initiatives through the non-profit sector. His Quaker background has inspired his passion to help the underserved and those who are in need.

His exposure to, and passion for, community service started which he was a junior at WFS with his volunteer work at the Alfred I. dupont Institute for Children where he worked directly with patients and in the research laboratories. Tim went onto receive his B.A. from Earlham College, non-profit management certification from the University of Delaware, and a Master’s in Public Health from Arcadia University.

In the late 80s, he led a groundbreaking project and managed the founding of Delaware’s first transitional housing and hospice care facility for people with HIV/AIDS. Upon the project’s merger with Catholic Charities in the early 90s, Tim coupled his passion for human services with his technology skills, and became the Executive Director of Catalyst Project, an organization focused on helping non-profits effectively use technology. While working at Catalyst Project, he collaborated with the University of Delaware and helped established Delaware’s first network for non-profits, Diamondnet, as well as the first online version of the Delaware Helpline database (now called Delaware 211). During this period Catalyst operated a computer recycling and upgrade facility, and did substantial work in the field around preparation for “Y2K”. During this time, he was also a member of the Washington, DC, Information Technology Roundtable, a group that worked on privacy settings and platform interoperability for the early internet with the Brookings Institute. Many of the initiatives set by this group have allowed us to experience the internet as it is today. In his current role at the Delaware Academy of Medicine, Tim oversaw the organization’s move from Wilmington to Newark, and has worked to restructure their program and mission. These efforts led to the Delaware Academy of Medicine being named Delaware’s affiliate to the American Public Health Association in 2013. In 2015, under Tim’s direction, the Academy started publishing the peer-reviewed “Delaware Journal of Public Health,” assuring the sector a dedicated voice for these issues in our state.

Tim is an active volunteer and is a Board Member for the Delaware Stroke Initiative and the Delaware Community Foundation Development Team. He serves as Delaware’s representative to the American Public Health Association Council of Affiliates, and is currently the Region 3 coordinator for the APHA (Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, DC, Virginia, and West Virginia). He is also involved with American Planning Association, the National Academy of Medicine, and is an active member of Wilmington RotarySome of his most rewarding and challenging work is working with people in recovery from addiction. Tim served on the WFS Alumni Board for five years and is a loyal and dedicated alumnus. He supports WFS because he admires the School's commitment to "doing the right thing," and not valuing or judging one type of success over another.  He hopes WFS will stay on the path its on, and continue to hire wonderful faculty and produce outstanding alumni. The School is grateful for his involvement, and we are honored to present him with this year’s Outstanding Service Award.