Colson gives town additional funds for scholarship fund

Ralph “Bud” Colson presents a check for $50,000 to Town Manager Tim Polky to further endow the Ralph and Frances Colson Scholarship Fund on September 12. Colson also presented the town with the seagull sculpture by renowned decoy and relief-carving artist Carl Malmstrom that Malmstrom had given Frances Colson when she opened The Seagull Lunch restaurant in Rockland in the early 1970s. Kevin Solsten (right) built the wood display shelf and Peter Achorn (left) lettered the dedication.

On September 12, Ralph “Bud” Colson, 89, presented St. George Town Manager Tim Polky with a check for $50,000 to further endow the scholarship he and his late wife Frances created 15 years ago.

Colson, who was born and raised in Rockland, met Frances, a native of Long Cove, while he was playing the jukebox at Rockland’s Paramount Restaurant. He was 17 and she had just graduated from St. George High School. “She asked if I would give her and her girlfriend a ride home to St. George,” Colson happily recalls. “I said, ‘Sure, I’ll give you a ride home,’ and that was it!”

During much of his working life Colson was employed by the O’Hara Corporation in Rockland, although he also tried his hand at fishing, scalloping, carpentry, masonry and electrical work. “I like to work,” Colson says, “just like my wife. She worked just as hard as I did.”

In the 1970s Frances Colson started a restaurant on Tilson Avenue in Rockland called The Seagull Lunch. To mark the opening, the renowned decoy and relief-carving artist Carl Malmstron, a friend and neighbor from Long Cove, gave her the sculpture of a seagull which Ralph Colson also presented to the town on September 12. Frances ran The Seagull Lunch for 10 years, then converted it into a shrimp-processing business which she ran for another five years or so, processing 30,000 lbs. of shrimp a day.

Together the couple bought Wildcat lobster pound in 1985, where Frances ran a seafood takeout window. That same year the couple moved from Long Cove into a house on Haskell Point where Colson still lives. The couple was married for 71 years.

The idea for setting up a scholarship fund came to the Colsons about 15 years ago, Colson says. “We’d done well, so we talked and we thought we might do something nice so we decided on the scholarship. Education is good and I didn’t get the chance although I don’t think I could have done any better. We certainly had a lot going for us—it’s been a good life.”

With this gift, the principal of the Frances and Ralph Colson Scholarship Fund now amounts to $116,000. The scholarships go to successful applicants who are St. George residents who have graduated from an approved secondary school and will attend a technical school, college or university. Recipients must take a minimum of two classes per semester while maintaining a minimum of a C average. An Award Committee appointed by the Select Board makes the awards.

PHOTO: Betsy Welch

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