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Rome Arts Hall of Fame


About the Rome Arts Hall of Fame


     The Rome Arts Hall of Fame was founded in May, 2005 when former Mayor of Rome Carl Eilenberg approached the Capitol Theatre with the idea of complimenting Rome's Sports Hall of Fame, located at the entrance of the Erie Canal Village, with a similar award for the arts.  Located in the mezzanine lobby of the historic Capitol Theatre, the Rome Arts Hall of Fame annually awards six inductions to notable artists in the Rome Community.

    Persons nominated must have made a major contribution to the arts in the Rome Community, are from the various arts disciplines including; music, theatre, author, visual arts, dance, philanthropy, film, radio or other performing arts and can be living or deceased. Jervis Public Library, Rome Art Association, Rome Art and Community Center, Rome Historical Society, Rome Community Theatre and Rome Capitol Theatre have made nominations.

A FORM FOR NOMINATIONS TO PRINT OUT IS HERE.

2015 Inductees

Linda Jackson began dance studies at the John Hayes O’Neill Studio of Dance in Rome when she was three years old, and furthered her training at the School of American Ballet in New York City and as a scholarship student of former New York City Ballet principal dancer Melissa Hayden.  She made her professional debut with the Baltimore Ballet and subsequently worked with the Eglevsky Ballet.
     In 1983, she joined Cleveland Ballet where she danced as a member of the company for 14 years, performing principal and soloist roles with renowned guest artists such as Rudolph Nureyev and Cynthia Gregory.  She served as President of American Alliance of Dance Artists from 1990-1997; as the Company’s Artistic Associate/Outreach Coordinator, she trained and coached 45 professional dancers.
     Ms. Jackson Linda became the Dance and Audience Development Manager of PlayhouseSquare in Cleveland in 2000.  She became Program Manager of the Community Engagement & Education Department in 2007 and was promoted to Assistant Director in 2012.  In December 2014, she joined the staff of Cleveland’s MetroHealth System, as its first Director of Arts-in-Medicine. In this capacity, she integrates the visual, performing and therapeutic arts, transforming the environment and experience for the patients, families, caregivers and the greater community.

Born and raised in Rome, NY, Margaret McLean Barcomb practiced law as a criminal prosecutor and currently teaches law at Boston College’s Carroll School of Management.  She credits her legal background for driving her success as a fiction writer.  When she was a prosecutor trying cases she’d survey the courtroom, noticing all the different characters and knew there was a book in what she was experiencing in her daily work.  The result was a Boston-based legal thriller series featuring defense attorney “Buddy Clancy.”  Her first two works in the series are Under Fire (2011) and Under Oath (2012).  Currently she is at work on the third book of the trilogy entitled Under Treason.
     Ms. Barcomb is the president of the New England Chapter of the Mystery Writers of America and is also co-chair of the New England Crime Bake.  In 2010, she was hailed as “one of the next faces of Boston crime fiction” by The Boston Globe. Last year she finished Whitey on Trial, a non-fiction project documenting the Whitey Bulger Trial.
When she is not writing, she hosts a two-hour live online radio show called “It’s a Crime.”  Listeners from across the United States tune in each week to hear her delve into topics relating to real life criminal investigations, law enforcement, and controversial court cases.  Margaret also discusses the law as a legal analyst for a Boston television station and enjoys helping new authors who share with her that intense passion for writing and getting published.

The daughter of artist H. Ernest King of Frankfort, Joan Tell has been member of the Rome Art Association since 1968 and has served on the organization’s Board of Directors as First Vice President, Recording Secretary and three terms as Board Member.  Along with fellow member Joyce Frank, Ms. Tell established the William Payne Memorial Award which was presented at RAA Regional Exhibits from 1982 to 1990.
     As a signature member of the Central New York Watercolor Society since 1985, Ms. Tell’s paintings have been displayed at Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute, Rome Art and Community Center, Old Forge Art Center, the Remington Museum, the Cooperstown Art Association and other galleries throughout the Northeast.  Juried exhibits included Kirkland Art Center 1995 and 1997, RACC 1997-2003, and Gannet Gallery SUNYIT 1990 through 1998.  Joan Tell’s watercolors were consistently accepted for 20 years in the Munson Williams Proctor Institute Sidewalk Exhibitions, and in 1996, she received a special award.  She has won numerous awards including Best of Show (most recently in the 2014 Ava Dorfman annual exhibit).
     Ms. Tell’s work reflects her travels to Europe, Iceland, and Canada and throughout the United States.  It is displayed in the corporate collection of Dean Witter Reynolds Investment Corp, Syracuse and in private collections in Switzerland, Iceland and the United States.  Currently Joan Tell resides in Texas with her husband.

In 1973, four pipers from the western Mohawk Valley of New York State (Dr. William Forbes, Jim Clough, Tom Carl, and Frank Dugan, Jr.) created a new bagpipe band in Rome, NY.  The band was named after the famed British 78th Regiment of Foot, who helped to build and guard Fort Stanwix during the winter of 1758-59 and who played a major role later that year in defeating the French at Québec.  The 78th Regiment of Foot was commonly known as Fraser's Highlanders (for Highland chieftain Simon Fraser who raised the regiment), thus the new band was incorporated as the 78th Fraser's Highlanders.
     The band won EUSPBA Supreme Championships four times, and, in 1982, became the first band ever to win two in one year, capturing the award for both Grades 3 and 4. When during the same year, a new Grade 1 band was incorporated in Ontario with a similar name resulted in confusion; the band voted to change their name.  In 1987, the new name Mohawk Valley Frasers was chosen to continue to honor the Scotsmen who helped build Ft. Stanwix.
     Under the direction of Pipe Major Jim Clough, the Mohawk Valley Frasers continue to be popular performers at parades, concerts, festivals, college commencements, Highland games, and other special events throughout the northeastern United States.  The group has been recognized with numerous prizes and awards including first place in the Grade 3 Canadian Championship at Fort Erie in 2003 and third place in the North American Championship at Maxville.

Jake Meiss’ earliest memories of music date back to when he was 18 months old and attended his first drum corps and marching band show.  He started Euphonium in 4th grade, and later attended Rome Free Academy, where he participated in various music programs, playing trombone, French horn and tuba.  Mr. Meiss majored in Music Education with a minor in Theatre at Pennsylvania State University and performed and travelled with the Marching Blue Band and the Singing Lions Show Choir. 
     He student-taught in Clearfield, PA, taught middle school chorus in Clinton NY, and then middle school and high school band in Mohawk, NY, prior to being hired as RFA’s Band Director in 2007.  Since then, he has revived, expanded, and created several programs including the Wind Ensemble, Concert Band, and Jazz Band, with the Wind Ensemble earning Gold Ratings on level VI repertoire at the NYSSMA Major Organizations Festival.  The Marching Black Knights have grown exponentially, and began competing in the fall of 2011 with musical arrangements and drills designed by Mr. Meiss.  He started RFA’s Rhapsody show choir in early 2011, creating their musical arrangements and choreography, and produced the first annual Student & Alumni Cabaret in 2010.  Jake Meiss has directed and choreographed two musicals for the Boys and Girls club, two for the Mohawk School District, and ten at RFA.
     Mr. Meiss continues to appear on stage locally in many musical theatre productions and to play in pit orchestras; he has also participated in the Rome Community Concert Band. 

Edyth Walker was born in Hopewell, NY on March 27, 1867.  She moved to Rome as a child, residing at 407 N James Street (future site of B & L Bakery), where her father conducted a carriage making business.  She attended Rome schools and taught music at Rome Academy circa 1888-1891.  She sang in the church choirs and became a featured soloist.
     She entered and won a singing competition which provided her with a scholarship that enabled her to study singing in Europe.  She came to Dresden, Germany in 1891 and was trained by Aglaia Orgeni.  She later studied with Marianne Brandt in Vienna.
     Ms. Walker made her professional debut as a concert singer at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig in 1892 and made her professional opera debut on November 11, 1894 at the Berlin Stage Opera as Fides in Giacomo Meyerbeer’s Le Prophete.  She became a contract singer with the Vienna State Opera from 1895-1903.  In November of 1903 she made her Metropolitan Opera debut as Amneris in Aida (opposite Johanna Gadski and Enrico Caruso) singing there for four seasons.
     After her retirement from the stage she became a noted voice instructor, first in France then in New York City.  Among her students were future Metropolitan Opera singers Irene Dalis and Blanche Thebom.  Her singing voice is preserved in the numerous recordings she made for the HMV Company (released on the Victor label in the US) between 1902 and 1908.  She died at her New York City home in 1950 at the age of 83.

2014 Inductees

Claudette McGraw Wire is a homegrown Roman who had the benefits of being raised in and around music. Rome Free Academy brought her to Concert Band and Marching Band throughout high school.  While in marching band, teacher/director John Wise instilled in her the love of marching music.
    Although Claudette never marched with a drum and bugle corps, all four of Claudette’s children were talented musically and marched in the drum and bugle corps actively. To support their interest, she also dedicated herself to drum corps.  And, it was during the time of her children’s participation that she became the founder and show director of “Drums Along the Mohawk.”  The show began in 1979 as a fundraiser for the Avant Garde Drum and Bugle Corps, in which her children marched, and has continued for over 35 years.
    After her children grew up, Claudette returned to college and graduated from Herkimer County Community College obtaining her AAS degree in Travel and Tourism.  While working for bus companies, she found opportunities to continue her work with marching music performers by assisting several drum and bugle corps with their tours and travel emergencies.
    Throughout motherhood and her professional career, Claudette continued to direct Drums Along the Mohawk. Even after her new job took her to South Carolina, she returned every summer to direct the committee for the show, and continues in this capacity today. 
    Ms. Wire has been the recipient of many awards for her work in organizing Drums Along the Mohawk annually, including the inaugural Drum Corps International Tour Event of the Year Award in 2005, and certificates from New York State governors in celebration of the 25th and 35th anniversaries of the show.
    Claudette Wire also received recognition from the City of Rome with their Erie Canaller Award presented by former Mayor Carl Eilenberg.  

Pat Besl was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1947.  When she was two years old her family moved upstate to Florence.  She loved to draw the flora and fauna on her parents’ dairy farm.  She attended school in Camden where she was encouraged to pursue her love of art.  Ms. Besl received a BS in Art Education from SUNY College at Buffalo in 1969.  She completed her graduate work in Buffalo and SUNY Oswego with a concentration in sculpture, then taught art for 34 years in the Canastota Schools, retiring in 2003.  In 2005 Pat Besl finished a series of graphite drawings working from real life subjects.  Drawing at least thirty minutes a day for a year, she developed twelve monthly images with 2 ½ inch squares for each day.  Her plant and animal subjects reflect the months of the year and the passage of time.  Realistic and abstract at the same time, her drawings play with space, proportion, value, and line.  She exhibited “Day by Day, a Year of Drawing” at the Canastota Public Library. In 2007, Pat Besl was selected to create an ornament for the National Christmas Tree at the White House in Washington, DC.  The theme was our National Parks and she designed the Fort Stanwix Ornament.  Ms. Besl maintains a studio space at her residence near Cleveland, NY on the north shore of Oneida Lake.  Her award winning drawings, pastels and mixed media work have been exhibited in many solo, juried, and group shows in Central New York.  Her work is in private collections throughout the United States as well.

Thomas Besl was born in Cheektowaga, NY, in the winter of 1947.  He pursued his BS in Art Education at the SUNY College at Buffalo.  He was a founding member of the Fine Arts Board, the group’s first president and was instrumental in establishing the first student gallery on campus.  Mr. Besl graduated in 1969 and continued graduate work at Buffalo State, and later at SUNY Oswego.  He was hired by the Canastota School District in 1969 and taught grades four through twelve during his 30-year career as an art instructor. Tom Besl’s work reveals a strong core foundation as a sculptor. Through a variety of media including, but not limited to welded steel, cast bronze, and most recently an exploration of photography/assemblage. An emphasis on form prevails in both realistic and abstracted imagery.  The use of photography in his later work is not surprising, for in his undergraduate course work he had concentrations in both sculpture and photography.  Two of Tom Besl’s sculptures are on loan to the Rome Art and Community Center.  An untitled cast aluminum piece graces the garden and a towering mixed media sculpture entitled “Sprout” stands on the upstairs landing.

Native Roman Roberta Guaspari received a Bachelor of Music degree from SUNY Fredonia, and a Master of Music degree from Boston University School for the Arts.  Among the many awards and honors she has received are honorary doctorates from the New England Conservatory of Music, S.U.N.Y. Fredonia, and Mount Holyoke College.  She began her remarkable teaching career in three East Harlem public schools in 1980.
    In 1990, when funding for her teaching was eliminated, she joined with parents, teachers, and other volunteers to continue the program.  They created a non-profit organization, “Opus 118 Harlem School of Music,” which has expanded to support a community music school serving thousands of low-income children both in and after school.  In 1996 the documentary film Small Wonders, featuring Roberta and her students, was nominated for an Academy Award, and her story was the inspiration for the film Music of the Heart, in which she was portrayed by Meryl Streep.  Roberta is co-author of an autobiographical book of the same title.
    Roberta has received a cultural leadership citation from Yale University and the Barnard College Medal of Distinction; the American String Teachers Marvin J. Rabin Award, the Arison Award from the National Foundation for Advancement of the Arts, CBS This Morning's "Woman of the Year," and the Reader's Digest Foundation’s "Hero for Today" award. 
    A longtime resident of the East Harlem community in which she teaches, Ms. Guaspari believes that violin instruction changes her students’ lives, and that music education remains the most noble of professions.  She has traveled internationally to advocate for the vital role of music in every child’s education. 

Matthew Pitcher was born on November 1, 1978 in Rome, N.Y.  As a student he was in many productions in the Capitol Theatre Rising Stars program, SummerStage, and O’Neill Dance Studio productions of The Nutcracker.  At ages 16-18 Matthew attended the School of American Ballet affiliated with the New York City Ballet.
    At age 17 he began his professional career in New York City dancing in productions of the New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Metropolitan Opera, and a Broadway Shakespearian production.  Matt was known professionally as a very graceful, physically strong dancer who excelled at partnering.  He became a resident of California after dancing for Celebrity Cruise Lines.  His career at that time included professional dance, choreography, teaching dance, acting in several movies most notably Center Stage and Pearl Harbor, modeling for Vogue and stage and movie productions including Production Manager for the Moscow Ballet "Great Russian Nutcracker" National tour.  Matthew received two Platinum choreographic awards in National competition.    
    When injured and not able to continue his professional dance performance career, Mr. Pitcher returned to Rome in 2002, where he taught dance and created choreography at the John Hayes O'Neill School of Dance.  Starting in 2005 he also worked as Production Manager for Entertainment Services.  Whereas Matthew loved to perform, always describing himself as a dancer, he found great satisfaction as a teacher and in providing dance opportunities for his students in the community.
    Matthew married Kimberly Finster in 2009 and they became parents to two beloved children Miles and Lilah.  Matthew's proudest moments in life were as a husband and father.  Matthew became ill with brain cancer and died in March of 2013 at age 34, five months following his diagnosis.  His epitaph reads “As you danced in the light with joy, love lifted you.  As you brushed against this world so gently, you lifted us".

Anthony Elliott, a native of Rome, New York, is the son of long time Rome residents, Anthony and Charlie Mae Elliott.  He has had a multi-faceted career as a conductor, cellist, and teacher.  He has conducted for symphony, opera, and ballet.  He has conducted the San Antonio Symphony, the Scott Joplin Chamber Orchestra, the Sphinx Symphony Orchestra, the CAMMAC Orchestra, Vancouver Chamber Players, the Prince George’s Philharmonic, the Plymouth Symphony, the All Northwest Orchestra, numerous All State Orchestras, in Holland, Germany, and Austria, and at the Marrowstone and Guelph Spring Festivals.
    The first Grand Prize winner of the Emmanuel Feuermann Memorial International Cello Solo Competition, Anthony Elliott has appeared as a soloist with the New York Philharmonic, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony, the Vancouver Symphony, and the CBC Toronto Orchestra. 
    Cello students of Anthony Elliott have held prominent positions in major symphony orchestras.  Many have won important competitions and awards, including the Avery Fisher Career Grant.  He has given master classes at the Cleveland Institute of Music, Eastman School of Music, The Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, Indiana University, Oberlin Conservatory, Peabody Conservatory, Meadowmount School, and Interlochen Arts Academy.  Anthony Elliott is currently a member of the faculty at the University Of Michigan School Of Music.
 


2013 Inductees

Classified
Originally assembled in the early 1990’s, the band, Classified was the concept of Freddie Faccioli.  A former organist and vocalist with the legendary group Eric & the Chessmen during the 1960's, Facciolli was also leader of Ascension, the area's premier horn band, throughout most of the 1970’s. In addition to Freddie Faccioli and Greeley Ford from Ascension on bass, the original Classified lineup featured Ascension veteran Pat Putrello on trumpet and providing vocals. While it truly was "getting the band back together," it also featured the top musicians from other groups in the area, such as Larry Desiato, Danny Brisson, Michael DiMeo, Darryl Sleszynski, Freddie Zimmerman, Dinger, Johnny Piazza and later Scott Rutledge. Gary Colmey was added to the original lineup several months later. Their collective resume was so long, it was said that it looked like a "Classified" ad.  Thus, the name was created and so was the mission of the band…. EOE--"equal opportunity entertainment" for all!
Classified was voted number one group in the area by the readers of the Utica Observer Dispatch in their “Readers Choice” poll for two years in a row.  The band has performed with, or shared the bill with, many international artists, including Maynard Ferguson, Benny Mardonis, Rare Earth, Eddie Money, KC & the Sunshine Band, Jason Masalis, Gap Mangione, The Commodores, The Pointer Sisters and Earth, Wind & Fire. The abilities of the members of Classified encompassed all styles of music. An amazingly versatile group, they performed a wide variety of music.  Their founding mission was to represent Utica as best as it could be done.
Over the years many talented artists played with Classified including Rick Zuccaro and Victor Toco (keyboards); Daryl Hunt, Lenny Milano and Karl Sterling (drums); Joe Ferlo, Stu Heinrich, Kris Heels, and Tommy Hillenbrand (guitars); Johnny Piazza, Jeff Stockham, Dave Blask, Pat Carney, Steve Carney, Tim Fergusen, and Jimmy Demauro (trumpets); Wayne Davison, Rocky Barbado, Bob Cesari, Devin Garramone, Don Williams and John Rohde (saxophones); Jimmy Camardello and Joe Colombo (trombones);  Ronnie Leigh, Ricky Chisolm, Vinnie Esposito, Michelle Rushford and Eddie Riley (vocals).
Classified gave their final performance on January 1, 2013 at the Delta Lake Inn in Rome.  The last list of band members (2012) included: Greeley Ford (bass guitar, vocals and band leader), Larry Desiato (lead vocals, percussion, drums); Michael J. DiMeo (trumpet and vocals); Carl Goodhines (keyboards); John Dugan (drums); Bill Mirgo (guitars); Marty Hollister (trombone and vocals); Scott Rutledge (lead vocals and trumpet); Joe Zarr (saxophones, flutes and vocals); John Short (keyboards and vocals); and Caitlin Henry (vocals).

Tony Lanzi
Anthony (Tony) Lanzi was born in Syracuse, New York on May 30, 1947.  He grew up in Rome and graduated from Rome Free Academy in 1965.  Four years later he received a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration from Kent State University.  He did graduate work at Utica College and Syracuse University. 

He walked into his first classroom as a substitute English teacher in September of 1969 at Strough Junior High School and it changed his life!  He later taught at Gansevoort Elementary, Lake Delta Elementary, DeWitt Clinton Elementary (where he stayed for 31 years until its closing), Francis Bellamy Elementary, and Staley Middle School. After a career of 40 years, he retired in June 2009.  Tony’s motto for his students was: “YES, I CAN!”

Teaching and directing students in two centuries, he used the performing arts and theater in the classroom.  He produced 36 plays and over 30 Medieval Fairs with his 6th grade students.

Known for his over the top “Theme Days,” including activities such “Emailing Monks Around the World,” learning always included performing, decorating and an amazing number of balloons!  Dress-Up Days and making life-sized Egyptian mummies were memorable annual events.  In 1982 he began taking his classes to Broadway, where his students not only saw musicals, but also met cast members after the shows.

He became the Rome Rotary Club’s first “Teacher of the Year” in 1987.  He was in Who’s Who Among Young American Professionals in 1988 and in Who's Who Among American Teachers in 1989.  He received the Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian Award from Staley Middle School in 2005 for “exemplifying the teachings of Dr. King.”  Tony’s served as the first Public Relations Director of the Rome Teachers Association in the 1980’s, and is also a member of the New York State United Teachers and the Roswell Park Cancer Institute-- celebrating his 10th year as a cancer survivor.
Tony is proud of the accomplishments and successes of ALL his students.  Former students include Mark Hapka, a movie and television actor/director, opera singer Victoria Vargas, Kevin Torres, an Emmy Award winning television reporter, and Frank Page, a cartoonist and graphic author currently working at the Rome Daily Sentinel.

Else Holmelund Minarik
Else Holmelund Minarik was born on September 13, 1920 in Denmark.  She immigrated to the United States with her family when she was 4 years old.  Her mother helped her learn English by taking her to the playground and translating what the children were saying.

She married Walter Minarik in 1940 and graduated from Queens College, City University of New York with a B.A. in 1942.  She became a journalist for the Rome Daily Sentinel in the early 1940’s.  Then she moved to Commack, Long Island where she began teaching first grade in a public school, responding to a shortage of teachers created by World War II.

After her daughter, Brooke was born in 1947, Minarik was inspired to write the Little Bear books for young readers who could barely manage to sound their way through syllables.  Minarik drew on her memories of her mother reading Hans Christian Andersen to her. “Little Bear is me in Denmark where I was cuddled and loved,” she said.  She mimeographed her book and shared it with her pupils, hoping to sustain their interest in reading during the summer vacation before entering the second grade.  The story was so well liked she took it to a publisher in New York.  The editor liked it, but asked that the bears in the book replaced by children.  Minarik was strong in her belief that universal appeal was more important than realism.  Describing the stories in an interview in 2006, she said: “I thought to myself, all children of all colors would be reading the stories.  All children love animals.  The bear is fine.  I love them because Mother took me to the Bronx Zoo every day, and I fell in love with the cubs.  My bears were a family.”

Another publisher, Harper and Row, agreed and commissioned Maurice Sendak to do the illustrations.  Ursula Nordstrom, children’s editor for Harper and Row, published Little Bear, the first in the series, in the United States in 1957 as the first book in the “I Can Read” series.  The Little Bear stories were turned into a successful animated television series for Nickelodeon in 1995.  Minarik authored more than 40 books, always writing her manuscripts in longhand, as she never learned to type.

Else Holmelund Minarik passed away at the age of 91 on July 12, 2012


Catherine O’Neill
Catherine P. O’Neill is a native of Rome, New York, and is a 1980 graduate of Rome Catholic High School.  She attended LeMoyne College and SUNY Upstate Medical School in Syracuse, and completed her residency in Internal Medicine in Buffalo, NY. 

Catherine Powers O’Neill began painting in the late 1990’s, after taking a beginner watercolor class at the local art center. A busy physician and the mother of four young children, she thought it would be a good chance for a weekly night out, but it proved to be much more, noting, “Watercolor painting has changed the way I see.  I find myself noticing my surroundings in a whole new way.”

She has won numerous awards in local and national art shows, including two consecutive Best of Show awards from the North East Watercolor Society International Exhibition, and the W. D. Gorman Memorial Award from the American Watercolor Society’s 143rd International Exhibition.  O’Neill holds signature membership in a number of watercolor societies, including the American Watercolor Society, the National Watercolor Society, the Transparent Watercolor Society of America, the North East Watercolor Society, the Rocky Mountain National Watermedia Society, the Watercolor USA Honor Society, and the Pennsylvania Watercolor Society, among others. She is an exhibiting member of the Buffalo Society of Artists and the Buffalo Niagara Arts Association, and serves on the Board of Directors at the Centennial Art Center of Hamburg. She has had paintings published in Splash 9, Splash 10 and Splash 11: The Best of Watercolor, North Light Books.  She has written a chapter in the 2009 book Watercolor Secrets: An Inside Look at the Techniques of Award-Winning Splash Artists.  Her work is featured on the cover and in an article in the Spring 2010 edition of Watercolor Magazine. O’Neill has participated in juried exhibitions across the country and has exhibited locally as a signature member of the Central New York Watercolor Society and the Niagara Frontier Watercolor Society.  She has been a frequent participant in the annual Adirondack National Exhibition of American Watercolors and has had solo exhibitions in Hamburg, Syracuse and Rome, N.Y.

She now paints a wide variety of subject matter using transparent watercolor, but her favorite images often include Adirondack landscapes and scenes from her family life. 
Catherine Powers O’Neill  is currently an Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine at the University of Buffalo, where she teaches and practices medicine. She lives in Hamburg, N.Y. with her husband and four children.

Leonard Urso
Leonard Urso was born in 1953 and grew up in Rome, NY, graduating from RFA in 1971.  His pursuit of art began when he was a young man and led him to study at the SUNY New Paltz.  After graduating with a Master of Fine Arts degree he began his professional career as a designer and silversmith for Oneida Ltd. Silversmiths.  Leonard holds an endowed chair as the Ann Mulligan Distinguished Professor in the School for American Crafts at RIT.

His passion for his craft is explained by the following artist’s statement: “Human beings are what interest me most, both as a person and as an artist.  Our story began more than one hundred and fifty thousand years ago; as primal creatures we human beings emerged to begin our epic journey.  Over the course of this time humans have evolved, migrated, cultivated, propagated and explored vast stretches of this planet earth.  Acknowledging the full history of human existence has helped to shape my vision as a contemporary person.  My role as an artist is to capture human activity as it takes place in the moment, intimately revealing humanities most intrinsic qualities.  This artwork of mine should bear witness to the stories of our lives and at the same time reflect the depth of our past.  Though personal, these stories are not about me, they are shared experiences that reflect our collective self’s.  Human beings are all innocently linked; we are singularly unique though not so different from each other.  What may be viewed as our imperfections often reveal the truths that distinguish us as primal human creatures.  We carry on a most fascinating, somewhat tragic romantic life, and thus bearing the fruit for relevant interpretive art forms.”

The Leonard Urso Art Studio is located in Rochester, N.Y., where Leonard is actively involved in creating large and small-scale sculptures and paintings.  Leonard’s art is exhibited nationally and internationally, represented in collections such as the Gyeongnam Art Museum South Korea, Art Institute of Chicago, Shanghai University, Kanazawa University of Japan, The New York Times, Bucknell University, Times Mirror Company, Bausch & Lomb World Headquarters, Garth Fagan, Colgate University, RIT and The Washington Post.


Valerie Wood
Valerie Wood was born on Christmas Day in Brooklyn, N.Y. in 1950.  She was raised in Thornwood, N.Y., a small town north of New York City.  She graduated from Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam in 1972 with a B.A. in Music Education and a performance certificate in voice and a minor in piano.  She completed graduate studies at the Saratoga-Potsdam Choral Institute, Setnor School of Music at Syracuse University, and the Eastman School of Music.

Val began her teaching career in 1972 as an elementary vocal music teacher at Bellamy School.  During her 13 years teaching at the elementary level she also taught at Ridge Mills, Clough, DeWitt Clinton, Denti, and Stokes.  After a sabbatical leave to study at Syracuse University, she transferred to RFA in 1985 to teach vocal music, guitar, music history and literature, and music theory as well, and served as music director for many spring musicals until her retirement in 2006.  She founded the RFA Select Choir in 1986 and served on the planning committee for the design of the new RFA building, specifically the music wing, the music lab, and the critically acclaimed auditorium.  She maintained a studio of private voice and piano students for many years.

Val is active in the local music scene as guest conductor for All-County and Area All-State Choirs.  She is also a frequent soloist and accompanist in area churches and civic groups and is a member of the Senior Choir and Joyful Ringers Bell Choir at the First Presbyterian Church in Rome.  Other groups of which Val is a member include the New York State United Teachers, American Federation of Teachers, Rome Teachers Association, Retired Teachers Association, New York State School Music Association, NYSSMA Technology Committee, Wednesday Morning Club, and the Oneida Area Civic Chorale.

Valerie Wood has a published article about the new RFA music lab in the magazine Music Education Technology, and was recognized by the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra as an  “Outstanding Central New York Music Educator,” with a special award for “Use of Technology in Education.”  In retirement she enjoys all kinds of music (both making it and listening to it), reading, gardening, and golf.

Billie Worth
Billie Worth was born Wilhelmina “Billie” Rothmund in Rome, NY (at Rome Hospital) on October 20, 1916.

She began her performing career at the age of six, making her initial appearance at a local talent show at the Strand Theatre in Rome on March 26, 1923, with brother Coley and sister Grace.  She began her performance career in earnest that summer, touring with her siblings (billed as “Grace, Coley, and Billie Worth”).  An expert tennis player, the 14-year-old Rome Free Academy student became City Wide Woman’s Tennis Champion in 1931 and repeated her triumph in 1932. 

After contemplating a career as tennis pro, Miss Worth chose the stage, and made her Broadway debut in the last performance of the Gershwins’ Let ‘em Eat Cake in 1934, before embarking on the show’s national tour.  Her subsequent Broadway appearances include 1934’s Thumbs Up!, Higher and Higher in 1940, Bright Lights of 1944 and Cole Porter’s Seven Lively Arts in 1944, and Rogers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific in 1949, where she understudied Mary Martin.  (She performed the lead role in South Pacific 24 times on Broadway in Martin’s absence.)  Billie had been taught to dance by her brother, Coley, and often earned critical raves for her dancing.  In 1935 she married fellow actor Donald Burr, and two weeks later began her international career when the couple began appearances at the Grosvenor House in London.
Billie Worth made her network television debut in 1951 in General Electric Guest House. She later guest starred in two episodes of The United States Steel Hour. In 1953 she starred in Irving Berlin’s Call Me Madam in London.  She retired from the professional stage in the late 1950s, but directed several productions with the community theater group the Chester (NJ) Players in the 1970s.  She presently resides in Florida and Connecticut and remains an avid tennis player.

2012 Inductees
Susan Davidson
     Susan Briggs Flanders Davidson was born October 7, 1949 in Rome.  After graduation from RFA, she attended Skidmore College and received a Bachelor of Science degree in 1971 with a major in Art Education/Weaving.  Susan continued her education accumulating more than one hundred hours in graduate studies.  She taught art in the Rome City School system for thirty years until her retirement in 2005.  During the final six years of her teaching assignments, Susan served as the Teacher Coordinator for the Art Department.           
     Some special projects during her teaching years included ROSIE (Rome’s Outdoor Summer Instructional Experience); Rome Area Chamber of Commerce/RCSD Student Art Exhibits; Chin-America, Rome’s Sister-City project with Xinyu, Jiangxi Province; “It’s a Zoo” Theatre Competition and the fourth graders’ Mural project on downtown Rome windows with Main Street Alliance.
     As a member of the Rome Art Association, she was responsible for the
Student Artist of the Month Program.  Her volunteer activities included the Rome Art and Community Center, where she was a weaving instructor, coordinator for the Center’s Summer Craft Days, a member of the Board of Directors and the Board of Trustees.  Susan was a fitness instructor for the Rome Family Y.  She has served on the Board of Deacons and the Board of Trustees at Rome’s First Presbyterian Church where she is also a member of the Senior Choir, the Hand Bell Choir and is substitute Organist.
     Other memberships include Delta Kappa Gamma, Honor Society for Outstanding Women Educators; Wednesday Morning Club; Heather Twig; Rome Teachers Association; Retired Teachers Association; Central New York Watercolor Society; Lake Delta Yacht Club and Teugega Country Club.  She is a member of the Herbert T. Dyett Foundation Grant Committee and an Alumnae Admissions Correspondent for Skidmore College.  In 2012, Susan received the Rome College Foundation Star Student Teacher Award.  She was selected by Randy Linderman.
     Susan Davidson’s accomplishments as an artist have been recognized by the Cooperstown National Juried Art Exhibition and Sculpture Space.  She has demonstrated traditional crafts at the Madison County Historical Society’s Craft Fair and at Constable Hall’s Craft Fair.


Rich DeLutis
    Richard Patrick DeLutis, Jr. was born in Rome, New York on March 24, 1953.  He attended Rome Public Schools and graduated from Rome Free Academy in June 1971.
     Richard began music lessons on the clarinet in the fifth grade.  He subsequently switched to the trumpet in the tenth grade.  He received an Associate Degree in Music from Onondaga Community College in Syracuse, in May 1973.  He continued his formal music education at Syracuse University where he received a Bachelor of Music Degree in 1975.  He was awarded a graduate assistantship in Music Education at Ithaca College where he earned a Masters Degree in Music in 1984.
     Richard taught instrumental music in the Rome Catholic Schools from September 1975 through June 1978.  He taught music in the Herkimer school system before beginning his teaching duties in the Rome Public School system in 1983.
     He is a long time member of MENC (Music Educators’ National Conference), and has been a member of the American Federation of Musicians since 1973, Locals 313, 51 and 78.  Rich DeLutis has played trumpet and trombone in a variety of musical ensembles including the Rome Civic Band, the Boonville Concert Band, the Mohawk Valley Community College Concert Band, and the MVCC Jazz Band.  He co-founded with his former junior high school band director Calvin Dening; “Just Brass”, a brass quintet.
     Richard has been a member of the Utica Symphony trumpet section for more than thirty years.  He founded the Westernville Trombone Choir, a group of twelve area trombonists who perform annually during the Christmas season.  He has also played in the pit orchestra for many area high school musical productions.
     His instrumental music teaching duties in 2012 are performed in Rome’s Staley Upper Elementary School.

Doug Magee
Rome, New York native Doug Magee is a photojournalist, screenplay writer, children’s book author, death penalty activist, film producer and director, war protestor, former college football player and amateur musician.  He attended Rome Free Academy, Amherst College and Union Theological Seminary.  Doug worked as a photojournalist for a number of years and was published in many major magazines and newspapers including a New York Times front-page photo of violence in Portugal.
      He is the author of Slow Coming Dark, a book of interviews with death row inmates and What Murder Leaves Behind: The Victim’s Family, profiles of families of murder victims.  Doug is passionately opposed to state-sanctioned killing.  Never Wave Goodbye, his first novel was published in June 2010 and his second novel, Darkness All Around was published in October 2011.  In addition, he has written three children’s books; All Aboard ABC, Let’s Fly From A to Z, and Trucks You Can Count On.
     His films include the HBO movie Somebody Has to Shoot the Picture and the Showtime movie Beyond the Call.  He enjoys playing softball with the Writers Guild of America East team and playing trombone with the East River Jazz Band.  He refers to New York’s Spanish Harlem where he has lived for many years, as “One of the beating hearts of the city”.

Rick Montalbano
    Rick Montalbano, born in Rome in 1949 was performing music professionally by the time he was thirteen. Rick credits several area musicians with heavily influencing his music career. Among them are Jack Palmer, Dolores and Sammy Mancuso, Sal Amico, Chick Esposito and JR Montrose. An early learning experience, which Rick deems important, was his stint as keyboard accompanist for The Rhythm-Lites, a group of young singers and dancers.
    For a part of the 1960s, Rick traveled with a road band playing rock gigs up and down the East Coast and into Middle America. His next stop was with the band Fuel which included Vinnie Esposito, Dave and Dean Blask and Carmen Caramonica. During this time, Rick began composing and arranging which he continued throughout the rest of his career.  Between musical gigs, Rick worked as an on air personality for radio stations WRNY and WTLB. He toured with singer Lou Rawls as conductor, piano player and organist through much of the 1970s playing Las Vegas, New York, LA and most points in between.  In the 1980s, Rick, along with Al Serway and Scott Rutledge played numerous area events as Ovation. During that time, Al and Rick started the Music Factory recording studio. Rick also served as music director and pianist for the Three Rivers Inn near Syracuse. He currently is contractor and pianist for the Turning Stone Casino Show Room where he performs with some of the most recognizable names in the entertainment world.
    Rick has performed with a huge list of jazz greats from Chuck Mangione and Jaco Pastorius to Phil Woods and Louie Bellson. Much in demand as an accompanist, Rick has played for vocalists as diverse as Aretha Franklyn and Jane Monheit.
    Some of Rick’s favorite area venues have included Birdland, a club in the old Baggs Square area of Utica where he performed with the legendary saxophonist Tina Brooks, jazz at Pastabilities in Syracuse and Rome’s Savoy where he has played solo piano for more than twenty years.   Rick currently teaches jazz piano at Colgate University, Hamilton College and Syracuse University. He is assistant music director for the Central New York Jazz Orchestra and has performed and recorded with the Syracuse Symphony.

Fred Normand
    Frederick A. Normand, was born in Utica, NY and graduated from Rome Free Academy, Mohawk Valley Community College, and Utica College.  He retired in 1989 from Rome Lab where he worked as a Computer Scientist.
     Fred has been a member of numerous volunteer organizations in Rome and has served as an officer or board member for many, including the Rome Historical Society, Rome Academy of Sciences, Jervis Public Library Association, PTA at Ridge Mills Elementary School, Lake Delta Kiwanis, Habitat for Humanity, Rome Art and Community Center, Welcome Hall, The Salvation Army, Rome Rotary Club and the Theater Association of New York State.
    He has received many awards for set design from the Rome Community Theater where he has served as a board member and officer for more than fifty years.  He currently serves as Vice President of the Capitol Theatre’s Board of Directors.  As a member of the Rome Grand Theatre Organ Society, he was part of the group that helped restore the Capitol’s Mőller Theatre Organ.  Fred also led the effort to rebuild the Capitol’s 1939 ticket booth.
    Fred Normand received the Nora Burke Award from the Rome Community Theater, the Roses for the Living Award from the Rome Rotary Club, was runner up for the National ACE Volunteer of the year award, and received the National Robert E. Gard Superior Volunteer Award from the American Association of Community Theatres.  In addition to his aforementioned work with non-profit organizations, Fred has been involved as an officer or director with numerous other Rome organizations the Rome Historical Society, Jervis Public Library Association, Lake Delta Kiwanis, Habitat for Humanity, Rome Art and Community Center, Rome Rotary Club, and several others.

Helen Phillips-Hanna
Helen Adele Phillips was born on May 5, 1936 in West Middlesex, Pennsylvania.  Her family moved to Farrell, Pennsylvania where she graduated from Farrell Senior High in 1954.
     Helen’s interest in music began at an early age with piano lessons.  She studied music education at SUNY, Fredonia where she received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Music Education in 1958.  Her graduate studies were accomplished at Crane School of Music at SUNY, Potsdam.
       Her first teaching assignments were as vocal music teacher in the Holland Patent Elementary School and the Remsen Central School.  In 1959, Mrs. Phillips-Hannah began her teaching career in the Rome City School District where she taught vocal music at Ridge Mills, Stokes, Harvey Alter, Louis V. Denti and DeWitt Clinton elementary schools before retiring from Denti school in June 1991.
During the years devoted to teaching music to Rome’s youngsters, Helen also served her community as organist and pianist for the Immanuel Baptist Church in Rome.  She also found time to sing with the Rome Community Chorus and the Rome Choral Society and give private piano lessons.
     Helen explored other areas of the performing arts as a member of the Rome Community Theater’s cast of “Guys and Dolls” and as Bessie (along with Jeanne McDowell as Sadie) in the story of the Delany Sisters, “Having Our Say” for the Wednesday Morning Club.
     Additional musical endeavors include accompanying area vocalists on programs for the National Association for the advancement of Colored People and the Afro American Heritage Association.  She also served the NAACP as treasurer for four years. 
Other interests include the Toastmistress Club, the Rome Art and Community Center where she served as a member of the Board of Directors for nine years.
Helen spent several summers as a counselor at Camp Sarah Agnes Stevens for Brownies and at Camp Kingsley for the Girl Scouts.

Coley Worth
     Coley Worth was born Coleman Peter Rothmund at the family homestead at 1011 N. George St. on July 3, 1908.  The son of musician and local theatrical impresario Otto Rothmund, Coley grew up in show business. He attended Rome schools and was a member of the undefeated Rome Free Academy football team in 1924.  At the age of 13 he began to work in vaudeville during the summer months, appearing with his sister Grace and his brother, Lon in an act they called “Gracie Worth and Her Worthless Brothers.”  He left RFA at the end of his junior year to go into vaudeville full-time, and eventually appeared in legitimate theater on Broadway as well, making his debut with sister Grace in a small part in the musical comedy À la Carte in 1927.  After appearing in supporting parts in 1929’s Earl Carroll’s Sketch Book on Broadway, he and Grace took the lead roles in the national tour. 
     He spent the remainder of his career, which lasted more than 60 years, in vaudeville, legitimate theater (including the original Broadway casts of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and 70, Girls, 70), regional theater, and television (appearing twice on The Jackie Gleason Show in the 1960’s).  He also appeared several times in the ‘50’s, ‘60’s, and ‘70’s in operettas at the New York City Opera, his signature role being that of Frosh, the jailer in Die Fledermaus.
     Coley Worth passed away in October of 1987 and is survived by his wife, Marcia Ray Worth, with whom he had been performing since their marriage in 1934.  Coley’s heritage is carried on by his family: his daughter Caroline Worth-Tyrrell is executive director of a New Jersey dance studio, and his daughter Penny Worth is a noted stage performer whose credits include the starring role of Roxie Hart in the national tour of Chicago in 1977.  Coley also has grandchildren in show business, Luke Darnell, a television actor and stunt man, and Coleman Anderson, who performs in the rock band Greasy Hands.

2011 Inductees
Joseph P. Yozzo
    Joe Yozzo was born in Rome, NY, and began performing music in 1933. His first teacher was the legendary Enstacio
Pinti, director of the Rome White Band. Initially playing tuba, Joe switched to string bass in 1939.
    In 1943 Joe Yozzo went into the Army. He spent 5  months in combat duty at Russell Island, Guadal Canal before being selected by the 230th Army Ground Force Band. His gigs for Special Services included playing for service shows featuring Bob Hope, Ginger Rogers, Lana Turner, Frances Langford, Jerry Colonna, and Eddie “Rochester” Anderson. Joe has also played for 26 shows with Jack Benny and sat in with such bands as Glenn Miller, Harry James, Tommy Dorsey, Jimmy Dorsey, Frankie Carl, and Les Brown.
    Joe continued to perform after his discharge from the military until 1960, when, shattered by the loss of his 11-month-old son, he put down his string bass. Urged on by Rocky Cole and Patti Page, Joe began performing again. He played bass with Johnny Salerno’s band for 36 years, and eventually performed with the Sal Alberico band and the No Name Band. As Joe says, “Music has been a lot of my life, and I have made a lot of good friends over the years.”

Jo Ann Krant Geller
    Jo Ann Geller was born in Chester, Pennsylvania and graduated from Chester High School. While a student in High School she studied piano with Jon Carlin at the Philadelphia Conservatory of Music.
    After graduating Jo Ann was accepted at the University of Pennsylvania where she graduated with a degree in Musicology. While a student at Penn, she studied piano under Vladimir Socoloff at the Curtis Institute of Music and also accompanied the Choir under the direction of William Smith, assistant conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra.
    She continued her piano studies in Munich, Germany under Leonard Shure. Returning to the States Jo Ann became a member of the performance faculty at the Wilmington School of Music, Wilmington, Delaware. Later she worked for a time as an assistant editor at the Theodore Presser Music Publishing Company in Philadelphia, PA.
    Jo Ann had appeared in numerous performances throughout New York State as soloist, accompanist, and in chamber ensembles. She was an adjunct professor at MVCC and is currently a member of a duo piano team with Bruce Smith. Jo Ann has an extensive piano teaching practice and she is also a member of the Board of the Rome Concert Band.

Herbert Geller
    Herbert Geller was born in Rome, NY and graduated from Rome Free Academy. Herb studied clarinet privately with John Flaver. He was accepted to The Juilliard School of Music where he completed a degree program in clarinet performance under the great French Clarinetist, Augustin Duques. Herb went on to perform with the United States Military Academy Band at West Point, The Berkshire Music Festival Orchestra at Tanglewood and The National Orchestral Association Orchestra in New York City under Leon Barazin. He played principal clarinet in The Florida Symphony Orchestra and then returned to New York City to play for the Broadway Shows: My Fair Lady, and The Man of La Mancha. He was selected to participate in a State Department tour of Africa with the All American Big Band and upon returning to the states he became a member of the Band of America under Paul Lavalle.
    Herb was the Band Director at Vernon, Verona, Sherrill High School and later the Band Director at Rome Free Academy. His teaching career included clarinet instructor at Hartwick College and the Crane School of Music at Potsdam. Herb also formed and conducted the RFA Wind Ensemble and Alumni Band for many memorable summer concerts. He is currently an adjunct professor at MVCC and a member of the Clarion Clarinet Quartet.

Frank Page
    Frank Page was born September 17, 1975 in Rome, New York. As a child, he was never far away from a pad of
paper and pencils. Cartooning seemed the obvious choice for his life’s path. Frank graduated from RFA in the class of 1993. In 2002, he created the comic strip Bob the Squirrel. Bob’s first appearance was in the Rome Sunday Sentinel in February 2002. Universal Uclick/GoComics.com picked up the strip for online syndication in 2004. Page has self-published seven Bob the Squirrel collections and three graphic novels: Mary, Better Man and 2 Sides of Alone. His award-winning editorial cartoons have been featured in past editions of Best Editorial Cartoons of the Year.
    Page has been staff cartoonist/graphic designer at the Rome Daily Sentinel since 1997. In 2010, he accepted an adjunct faculty position with the art department at Cazenovia College. He has given dozens of lectures about the mechanics of
cartooning, sequential art, the importance of reading, anti-bullying and art in general to schools throughout Central New York. He holds a BFA in illustration from Cazenovia College, Cazenovia, NY and a MFA in Visual Art with emphasis
on Sequential Art from the Vermont College of Fine Arts, Montpelier, VT.

Welthy Honsinger Fisher
Welthy Blakesley Honsinger was born in Rome, New York on September 18, 1879 and grew up hoping to be an opera
singer. But upon hearing a missionary speaker, she discarded her plan and completed her education as a teacher. After graduating from Syracuse University in 1900, Welthy became a teacher at Rosebud College, a one-room school in Haverstraw, New York, where she was in charge of 15 students. She sailed to China in 1906 and became the headmistress of the Bao Lin School in Nanchang Province, which was the only school for girls in the province of 45 million people. She was committed to the idea of women’s independence and she encouraged her girls to develop into new, modern Chinese women, often against the wishes of their traditional parents. She returned to the United States in 1917 and became a YWCA war worker and the editor of World Neighbors, a Methodist mission magazine.
    In 1924 she married Frederick Bohn Fisher. Both the Fishers were well respected by Gandhi and other prominent leaders of the Indian Independence Movement. Upon his death in 1938, she wrote his biography and studied educational systems throughout the world. She lectured throughout the U.S. on women of the world and Chinese Industrial Cooperatives. Six weeks before his death in 1947, Gandhi asked her to return to India and continue her work on education in India’s villages. At the age of 73, she returned to India in 1952 to work with Frank Laubach, Christian Evangelical missionary and literacy pioneer. Deciding that literacy training linked with agricultural and industrial development was a key strategy to eradicate poverty; Welthy broke with Laubach and founded Literacy House at Allahabad. In 1956, Literacy house moved to Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, where it became famous for its effectiveness and its House of Prayer for All People.
    Welthy and her fellow literacy pioneers started two non-profit organizations, World Education and World Literacy in Canada. She was closely involved in both organizations for many years, either as President or an advisor. Throughout her nineties she traveled throughout the world and made her final trip to India as a government guest in 1980, shortly before her death at the age of 101. Fisher was honored by the Indian government, which based its village literacy programs on her ideas, and issued a stamp in her likeness.

Jane Taylor
    Jane Grace Taylor holds a Masters in Illustration from Syracuse University. She taught at Rome Free Academy for
many years. She was the advisor for the award winning school art and literary magazine “Galleries” which encouraged
students to express their creative thoughts and display their art. She retired to pursue a career as a full time artist. She teaches workshops and classes at the Rome Art and Community Center and the Kirkland Art Center.
    She is treasurer of the Central New York Watercolor Society, President of the Rome Art Association, long time member of the Sumi-e Society of America, the Utica Art Association, and Artists of Mohawk Valley. She is active in three forms of Martial Arts, a black belt in American Karate, a black belt in Aikido, and has begun training in Iaido (Japanese Sword). The meditative quality and focused movements of these arts have greatly influenced her work, as seen in the rapid brush of Asian style calligraphy and painting.
    She has recently been awarded “Best of Show” in the international juried online exhibit of the Sumi-e Society of America.
    She has exhibited in Lorton Virginia and in Long Island, NY and won the “Scotty Thornton Award”. The curator of the Metropolitan Museum of Art has accepted her work in a juried Sumi-e exhibit in New Jersey. She has recently completed the illustrations for “The Legend of Beardsley Manor” by A. (Peter) Polosi and “A Moment of Zen”, a collection of her art and poetry and poems of Eddie Savio.
    Her monumental murals include three figures on the Sports hall of fame, the painting known as “Paul Revere”( Peter Gansevoort- Commandant of Fort Stanwix - 5,000 square feet, 60 feet high), float for the Honor America Days Parade, The Dr. King Memorial Park on South Street, Utica, NY; The Strough JH auditorium; the tunnel near the Capitol Theatre; pictures of children in two Rome City parks; the children’s room in theFoster Children’s Center; Woodstock 99 wall; Knights on the Stairwell at RFA; Mother Cabrini at St John’s Church; Angels and the altar at St Joseph’s Church ,Lee Center NY.  She has had one person shows at the Rome Art and Community Center, SUNY IT, The Stanley Performing Arts Center and Guest artist at Alterra Village. She will have work in numerous Central New York Watercolor Society Shows .

2010 Inductees
John Salerno
    For John Salerno, music was his life.  Beginning at age 8, he began taking lessons on the clarinet and continued performing his music for over 70 years.  At age 12, John became a member of the East Rome White Band.  At the age of 14, he formed his own quartet and trio and started appearing all over the Central New York area.  John loved entertaining and making people happy--he made sure that everyone had an enjoyable and memorable time.
    John played all types of music on his clarinet and saxophone, but his favorite was jazz and Dixieland.  He played in numerous jazz festivals at the Savoy and The Beeches restaurants and was part of the group in the recording of the Jazz Along the Mohawk album.
    During the early 1970’s, John, along with other area musicians, organized the very popular Rome Civic Band.  He played an important part in the building of the bandstand at Franklyn’s Field, which was the site of many weekly civic band concerts that drew large crowds during the summer months.  He also performed in most of the Honor America Days         Parades.   

Jean A. Vollmer
Jean became an art instructor in 1973 and joined the Rome Art Association in 1985; that same year she became a member of the RAA board of directors and was elected Corresponding Secretary—a post she holds to this day.  She served on the board of directors of the Rome Art & Community Center for six years and was Director of Hospitality and Volunteer Coordinator for RACC. Her other numerous activities in arts and education have included teaching art classes for senior citizen groups in Rome, Sylvan Beach, Lee Center, and Camden; representing Rome Art Association, Rome Art & Community Center, and Rome Community Theater in Rome’s Honor America Days.
     Today Jean Vollmer serves as judge for selection of “Art of the Month” in Rome elementary schools.




Richard R. Vollmer
    In 1986 Richard Vollmer joined the Rome Art Association, serving as Vice President for two years and as President for 12 years.  For the past four years he has served as Treasurer of that organization.
     As President of RAA he helped start a program with the principal and art instructor at John Joy Elementary School for an “Artist of the Month” program.  He continues to participate with other RAA members in selecting students to be so honored in Rome city elementary schools.
     Other activities Richard has engaged in on behalf of RAA includes displaying members’ artwork throughout the community; assisting in annual Art Camps for Ages Together Intergenerational Group throughout the Camden Central School District; participating in play presentations with Camden High School Student Drama Club; conducting train programs for Camden Elementary Schools and Senior citizen groups in Sylvan Beach, Rome, Camden, Lee Center and Clinton Lutheran Center; and assisting Boy Scouts in getting merit badges for transportation (trains).
    He served on the board of directors at Rome Art and Community Center for six years, and was a member of Utica Art Association and Rome Photography Society.

Robert G. Hubbell
    Robert G. Hubbell was born in Ilion, N.Y.  He played music in the high school band and orchestra and had the honor of being selected as solo clarinetist in the first New York State All State Band held at Ithaca College in 1935.  After high school, Bob continued his music studies at the Crane Institute of Music in Potsdam where he graduated in 1941.  That same year he began his career as a music teacher in St. Regis Falls, N.Y.
     A year later, during World War II, Bob began his stint in the military, serving in the Signal Corps until his discharge in 1945.  While waiting to come home after the war, Bob played in the 129th Signal Corp dance band, which performed with the Bob Hope show in Frankfort. 
     After the war Bob performed with many groups including the Remington Typewriter Band, the Utica Civic Band, the Rome Civic Band, the Syracuse Symphony, and the Utica Symphony.   In 1948 he received his Master’s Degree in Music Education from Syracuse University.  Bob’s teaching took him to the Rome Public Schools where he derived great pleasure in inspiring students to excel in music for 25 years. Under his tutelage as Director of Music, Rome’s music program thrived and grew into one of the finest in the state.

Ann Hurlbut
    Ann Barbara Dersherl Hurlbut was born September 17, 1924 in Rome, New York.  She first became interested in performing arts while attending high school at Rome Free Academy, where she was involved in the school’s drama productions.
     Ann was one of the first members of the Rome Community Theater, which was formed in 1953. Ann served as  the  organization’s corporate  memory  and  was        the first to welcome new participants giving them a feeling for the history of the group.  She also served as a member of the theater’s board of trustees holding the office of secretary for many terms.
     Ann was active with the Griffiss Air Force Base-related Newcomers Club, which was the official organization tasked with welcoming new area residents and familiarizing them with local businesses and organizations.  This gave Ann the opportunity to recruit new ticket holders and volunteers for Rome Community Theater.  Additionally, Ann Hurlbut served as president of the Rome Genetaska Club and as a board member of the Rome Art and Community Center. 

Greg Kuzma
    Greg Kuzma was born and raised in Rome, NY. After graduating from Rome Free Academy, he continued his education at Syracuse University.  Known among writers and former students as a brilliant, mercurial spirit, likely to forget more poetry than most of us will ever know, Greg has over 30 volumes of his writings in print, including For My Brother, A Day in the World, and Early Selected Poems.  His poetry has appeared in such noted publications as The New Yorker, The Hudson Review, Poetry Northwest, Antioch Review, and Poetry.  His early work reflects the profound influence of his formative years in Rome.    
    A gifted educator, Greg Kuzma taught contemporary poetry and poetry writing at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln for over 40 years. He has also taught creative non-fiction writing at the Chautauqua Writers’ Center Festival in New York.
    Known within the literary community for his support and promotion of other writers, Greg founded the Best Cellar Press, under which he produced handset letterpress chapbooks of other poets.  Most recently the Best Cellar Press has published REreadings Two, a collection of critical essays about American poetry and poets.  He also started the literary magazine Pebble.


2009 Inductees
Walter R. Brooks
Walter R. Brooks was born in Rome, NY in 1886. At 15, Walter went to the Mohegan Lake Military Boys Academy where he played football and was the assistant editor of the school newspaper. Walter attended the University of Rochester and went on to study homeopathic medicine in New York City.  He enjoyed linguistics and was fairly proficient in six different languages. After dropping out of medical school, Walter settled in Utica where he worked for The Frank Denoyer advertising agency.  After two years however, in 1911, he came into a sizeable inheritance and spent the next 6 years traveling the world. He credits this experience for inspiring his literary works.
      After his travels, Walter settled in Greenwich Village, the Bohemian section of New York City and worked as a magazine editor for several magazines including The New Yorker and The American Red Cross magazine. During this time, he also wrote novels and short stories on the side. Literary success came in 1927, when his first children’s book To and Again whose main character Freddy the Pig and his life on the “Bean farm” captured the hearts of children and parents alike. The humorous tales of the talking animals were light and playful.  The book became the first of a hit 26 book series. Another of Brooks’ short stories, Ed Takes the Pledge, about a talking horse, went on to become the basis for the well known 1960’s television comedy series Mister Ed.  The imaginative works of Walter Brooks have enjoyed decades of popularity.

Eleanora Wallace Collins
Eleanora Collins was born on Valentines Day in 1936, in Batavia, NY. Her mother, a classically trained graduate of Eastman School of Music taught piano and organ. Her father, who sang, played the drums and string bass, provided a jazz influence, so Ellie developed a liking for both musical styles.    Ellie attended the Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Music Education in 1958, and a Masters Degree in 1963.  With teaching certifications in Music, Elementary Education and Special Education, Ellie accepted a music teacher position at the Rome State School where she taught for 32 years.  Soon after coming to Rome, she joined the Rome Civic Chorus where she met her future husband, the talented singer McKinley “Mac” Collins.
      Ellie has served Rome’s First United Methodist Church as choir director for more than 35 years.  She has organized and directed several benefit concerts and numerous ecumenical choirs.  As a member of the Wednesday Morning Club, she has directed a hand bell concert and 6 December Choral programs.
      In 2001, she became a charter member of the Oneida County Freedom Trail Commission.  She has presented numerous informational talks to history clubs, church groups and schools on the Underground Railroad.  Ellie’s love or participation in music is a constant and welcome companion through her daily activities whether she is gardening, making craft projects or doing historical research.

McKinley “Mac” Collins
McKinley Collins was born in Mayflower, Arkansas in 1925. In 1927, his family moved to Rome, where Mac attended Dewitt Clinton Elementary School and RFA where he enjoyed school politics and acting. In 1943, Mac was drafted into the Army and shipped off to Nagoya, Japan.
     Mac’s singing talents were not discovered until 1946 at Rome’s Mount Calvary Baptist Church when he was encouraged to take voice lessons.  It wasn’t long until he entered and won  several Welsh Eisteddfods (singing contests). Mac sang with Utica’s Grace Episcopal Church choir for 52 years.  Between 1946 and 2007, he participated in numerous concerts and recitals at venues including Utica, Hamilton, Hobart and Dennison Colleges; Munson Williams Proctor Institute, Kirkland Art Center, Rome Art and Community Center, Kleinhans Music Hall and numerous area churches.  As a member of the Rome Civic Chorus, Rome Choral Society, and Utica Community Choral Society; Mac’s performances included Brahm’s Requiem, Mozart’s Requiem in D Minor, Haldel’s Messiah, Bach’s Magnificat, Shubert’s Mass in G and Hayden’s The Creation, just to mention a few.  Mac’s stage performances include South Pacific, Finian’s Rainbow, Kiss Me Kate, Man of LaMancha, Ahmahl and the Night Visitors, and Martha.
    Mac has delighted audiences for more than 60 years. In 2001, he released an enjoyable CD of Traditional American Music. Mac’s love of music has been passed on to his 5 children and 7 grandchildren.

Randy Fields
Randy Fields was born September 18, 1946, in Bennettsville, South Carolina; the oldest of four sons of Etah and H. W. Fields. Randy studied tap and ballroom dance and played piano, clarinet and drums while in school and was named the “Most Talented” member of his senior class in 1964.
      In college, Randy majored in journalism receiving a Bachelors degree. He also took acting classes and appeared in several productions where he was bitten by the theatre bug.  He went on to complete another Bachelors degree, this time it was a degree in Modern Dance.
      In 1974 Randy moved to New York City where he studied jazz and modern dance at the Alvin Ailey School, as well as tap dance with choreographer Henry LaTang and voice with Jim Gassett.  Randy toured with the casts of Fiddler on the Roof, Oliver, Oklahoma, Godspell and The King and I.
      Randy moved to the Mohawk Valley in 1980.  He directed, acted and choreographed with Players of Utica; taught jazz and theatre dance at Munson Williams Proctor Institute; and choreographed several pieces at Hamilton College. These activities have totaled choreography for approximately 70 area productions.
    Since 1990, Randy has been singing, dancing and acting in SummerStage productions at Rome’s Capitol Theatre.  In 1993 he became the theatre’s choreographer and in 1995 Peter Loftus became the theatre’s director, beginning a successful partnership spanning more than 15 years. After forty-plus productions at the Capitol, Randy continues dancing, teaching and enjoying roles as  an “older character actor.”   

Peter J. Loftus
Peter Loftus was born in Utica, NY in 1959. He has been interested in performing and directing since the age of seven, when he forced his cousins to put on “shows” for the family during holiday get-togethers.
      Peter attended Utica and Whitesboro schools where he was president of the Drama Club.  At SUNY Geneseo, he received a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and Special Education with a minor in Drama.  He earned a Masters degree in education from SUNY Cortland.
      After college, Peter began his career in local community theatrical productions.  He performed with The Upstagers, Players of Utica and Rome Community Theater.  In 1982, he directed a musical production of Scrooge.  That tradition has continued annually through the decades to the delight of Central New York audiences.  Peter co-founded Rukus Productions with his dear friend Bonnie Hibbard and together they have produced several musicals.  He has performed in, or directed more than 30 plays and musicals for SummerStage at Rome’s Capitol Theatre and more than 50 productions for the Players of Utica. In 1999, Peter directed the Off-Broadway play Sketches of Boz written and performed by friend Richard Enders.
     Peter has also explored wider audiences by performing with the Utica B Sharp Club, The Town of Trenton Community Productions, The M. Proctor Theatre guild, The Etude club, Mohawk Valley Ballet, Petronella Productions and the Vinnie Coluzza Memorial Fund. He has served as cantor at Utica’s St. Mark’s Church for more than 25 years.

Shirley Barnard Waters
Shirley Barnard was born in Syracuse in 1921 and her family moved to Rome in 1933.  Shirley attended Syracuse University where she studied painting and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.  She also enjoyed a passion for journalism and it was while studying that form of communication, she met George Waters.  They married in 1943.
     Shirley has been a prolific as well as talented artist creating more than 400 paintings.  She also has organizational skills which she used as a founding board member of Sculpture Space.  With that organization Shirley has worked to develop the Griffiss International Outdoor Sculpture Park.
     Shirley was a member of the committee organized in 1979 to save and preserve Utica’s Stanley Theatre. Mstislav Rostropovich performed a benefit concert which generated the desperately needed seed money to keep the theatre afloat and began its’ amazing rejuvenation. After the closing of Griffiss Air Force Base, Shirley assisted Smith Post American Legion in persuading the Air Commander to leave a decommissioned B52 bomber and Cruise Missile as a static display near the area formerly used as an entrance to the base.
      Additional associations for Shirley have included the Rome Art Association, Rome Art and Community Center, Jervis Library, Utica Arts Association, Greater Utica Artists League, Munson Williams Proctor Institute, Central New York Community Arts Council, Empire State Crafts Alliance and United Arts Fund of the Mohawk Valley.    Shirley notes her crowning achievement as sharing life with her husband George and their five children Peter, Steve, Nancy, Kristin, and Dean.


2008 Inductees
Carleton Waite Brush
Carleton Waite Brush was born May 1, 1900 in Rome. He graduated from Rome Free Academy.  At age seventeen, he enrolled in the Utica Conservatory of Music where he received certification as a violin teacher in 1922.  The same year, Carleton married Nellie D. Henderson and had two children, Arthur and Fredericka.
     Bush toured the East Coast with the Fuller Orchestra during the Depression era.  In Rome, he played in the Strand Theatre pit orchestra.  He also performed with several local groups including Joe Kahler’s Band, the Revere Band and the Old Timers Band of Boonville.
     A versatile musician, he taught himself to play the saxophone, trombone, accordion, and viola; but when he discovered the organ, his passion was set.  Carleton, a talented musician arranged and transposed music easily and had an extremely large repertoire of organ music which he usually performed from memory to the delight of Capitol Theatre movie audiences.
     In the mid 1960’s, Carleton was one of the principal champions in the project to save and restore the 1928 Möller theatre organ at Rome’s Capitol Theatre.  He went on to become the Capitol’s house organist for the next 20 years. He especially enjoyed playing before shows and movies and never failed to amaze and entertain audiences with the organ's many novelty effects.  Before his death in 1988, the organ was personally dedicated to him when the Capitol re-opened as a performing arts center in 1985.

Emilie W. Hayes
Emilie West Hayes was born in Utica in 1919.  Some of her fondest childhood memories include writing and performing plays with her two sisters inspired by the characters in “Little Women”.
     Emilie graduated from Utica Free Academy in 1934.  At UFA she appeared on stage in the senior class play, her first theatrical production.  She worked at Utica Mutual Insurance and acted in radio dramas for Utica stations before moving to Rome with her husband in 1940.  While managing a household for her husband and two daughters, Emilie held positions in several local businesses as secretary and bookkeeper.  She earned an insurance agent’s license and a notary public designation.
     In 1950, a friend suggested Emilie audition for a part in “Born Yesterday” which was to be staged by the Rome Civic Theater in a theater on East Dominick Street.  Emilie was successful in that audition and also became a member of the organization.  In 1953 The Rome Theater Guild and the Rome Civic Theater merged to form The Rome Community Theater.  The first production of the newly formed organization (RCT) was “Light Up The Sky”, staged in October in the Rome Free Academy auditorium on Turin Street.  Emilie was a member of that cast and for the next fifty plus years, she supported RCT productions and operations in numerous capacities on stage, back stage, in the front of the house and on the board of trustees where she held the office of president.  As a representative for district six (Central New York), Emilie also worked with the Theater Association of New York State.  Additionally, Emilie appeared on stage in several Players of Utica productions.
       In addition to her full schedule of RCT activities, Emilie provided service to the Rome community as a volunteer with the Rome Historical Society, the Rome Art and Community Center, the Rome Women of the Moose, Rome Trading Post, Rome Newcomer’s Club, the Wednesday Morning Club, the Rome Secretaries Association; as well as several parent teacher organizations on a local and state level.  Emilie was selected a Rome Volunteer of the Year.  In later years, Emilie has been an active member of the Ava Dorfman Senior Center, the South Rome Seniors Center, Mohawk Valley Antique Bottle Club, Rome Coin Club, the Golden Years Club and AARP.  She also is a graduate of the Rome Police Department’s Civilian Police Academy and a lifetime member of the Lake Delta Yacht Club.                 

Canan Jackson
Canan Jackson was born in Ankara, Turkey where she began her dance training at age three.  At age seven, she was selected first among hundreds auditioning for the prestigious Ankara National Conservatory for the Performing Arts.  She graduated from the conservatory with honors and obtained teaching certification.
        Canan was accepted into the Ankara National Ballet of Turkey as a soloist when she was seventeen years old. For the next eight years, she danced most of the Classical Repertoire including Romeo & Juliet, The Nutcracker, Giselle, Swan Lake, Les Sylphides, Don Quixote, La Bayadere, Le Corsaire, La Fille Mal Gardee, Coppelia and Paquita.
     She studied under masters from the Royal Ballet of London and the Bolshoi Ballet of Russia.  Among other notables, she worked with Yuri Grigorovich, director of the Bolshoi Ballet and Yuri Papko noted Russian Choreographer.
     In 1980, she performed at the prestigious Varna Ballet Competition in Bulgaria and was invited to dance in West Germany as a guest artist.  She remained primarily in West Germany for seven years as a principal dancer with the National Theatre of Mannheim working with many noted international choreographers.
     While performing with the National Theatre of Mannheim, she danced with Stephen Jackson.  They married and in 1987, the couple moved to Rome where in 1988, they opened The John Hayes O’Neill Studio of Dance.  Canan has instructed thousands of aspiring dancers and staged hundreds of performances to the delight of Central New York audiences.                 

Stephen J. Jackson
Stephen J. Jackson was born in Rome and began his dance and theater training with John Hayes O’Neill.  His first appearance on stage was at age three. His performances have included hundreds of ballet productions, musicals, revues, operas and operettas.
     Jackson studied dance at The Royal Academy of Dance in London and at SUNY Purchase.  He completed an intensive course of study with master teachers Paul Jejia and Suzanne Farrell of the New York City Ballet.  He undertook additional studies at the School of American Ballet in New York City.
     Stephen performed with the Chicago Lyric Opera Ballet and toured extensively throughout the United States as a soloist with the Stars of American Ballet.  He danced with the Zurich Ballet in Switzerland and in Germany he performed with the Hanover State Ballet, the National Theater of Mannheinm, the Stadt Theater of Mainz and the Stadt Theater of Bielefeld.
         He has performed most of the classical repertoire including Swan Lake, Nutcracker, Giselle and Romeo & Juliet as well as many contemporary and modern works from numerous international choreographers and performers including Rudolph Nureyev and George Balanchine.
     Jackson has taught at the High School of Performing Arts in Frankfurt and also in Mannheim, Germany.  He has served as a faculty member for The National Dance Institute in New York City and has also been a guest teacher at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York.
     His credits include choreography for many musicals and operettas.  Jackson has also served as resident choreographer and teacher for the Capitol Theatre’s SummerStage Series. Stephen co-directs with his wife Canan, The John Hayes O’Neill Studio of Dance in Rome where they have instructed thousands of students and annually stage a local production of the Nutcracker.

John Bloomfield Jervis
John Bloomfield Jervis was born on December 14, 1795, Huntington, Long Island, New York. In 1798, he moved to Rome with his parents, Timothy and Phoebe Jervis.
      He received his education as an engineer while apprenticing under Benjamin Wright, “the father of civil engineering.” Under Wright, he progressed from axeman and rodman on the survey for the Erie Canal to being in charge of 17 miles of canal by 1819. He went on to become superintendent in charge of the flow of traffic over a 50-mile span of the completed canal in 1823, and was eventually made chief engineer of the Delaware & Hudson Canal, the Mohawk & Hudson Railroad, the Saratoga and Schenectady Railroad, the Chenango Canal, the Eastern Half of the Erie Canal, and the Croton Aqueduct, the first reliable water supply to New York City, among others. He was also an inventor, and the author of several engineering books.
      Throughout his life, he received many honors. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Hamilton College in 1878, and many objects were his namesake, including the town of Port Jervis, and the Delaware and Hudson Canal and Railway company’s finest locomotive.
      He married twice, first to Cynthia Brayton and then to Eliza Ruthven Coates.  Having no surviving children or direct living heirs, upon his death in 1885 at 89, he bequeathed his home, personal library and letters, and his many engineering drawings to the city of Rome for the establishment of Rome’s Jervis Library.  The papers left by Jervis number in the thousands and include original manuscripts of books he authored.


2007 Inductees
Francis J. Bellamy
Francis J. Bellamy (May 18, 1855-August 28, 1931) was born in Mount Morris, NY (near Rochester), and moved to Rome with his family when he was two years old. His father was a minister at the First Baptist Church in Rome. Bellamy graduated as valedictorian from RFA 1872.
       Bellamy, a Baptist minister and Freemason, is most famous for penning the original Pledge of Allegiance for Boston's Youth's Companion, a family magazine with a circulation of around 500,000. He was hired in 1891 to work in the premium department. To solicit more subscriptions, he and a co-worker started a campaign to sell American flags to public schools. The campaign quickly snowballed into a movement with a goal to provide an American flag for every school in the nation, with Youth's Companion at the forefront. As of 1892, flags were being flown above approximately 26,000 schools.
      The pledge was written to coincide with the World Columbian Expedition, an extension of the flag campaign to commemorate the anniversary of Columbus reaching the Americas.  It was published on September 8th, 1892, while Bellamy was chairman of the 1892 National Public School Celebration of Columbus Day through Youth's Companion magazine. Bellamy's original pledge read as follows:  "I pledge allegiance to my Flag and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all".  Bellamy had considered adding "equality" to liberty and justice, but was afraid that it would be too controversial. In 1924, against Bellamy's will, the Daughters of the American Revolution pressured the National Flag Conference to replace the words "my flag" with "the flag of the United States of America."  Bellamy, while not disagreeing with the words themselves in principle, believed that changes to his original work interrupted the flow and simple beauty of the words he had written.  The Knights of Columbus were responsible for pressuring Congress to add the words "under God" in 1954.  Francis Bellamy is buried in the Bellamy family plot in Rome Cemetery.

Grace Carpenter
Grace Carpenter was most likely Rome’s first true patron of the arts.   She was born Grace Selden Van Wagenen in 1880 in Oxford, New York, and moved with her family to Rome in 1886.  She married Rome industrialist Arthur Carpenter and together they created a magnificent Tudor style home located on West Bloomfield Street which in 1967, became the Rome Art and Community Center.  It had been Mrs. Carpenter's wish that after her death her home would provide a local setting to foster the arts with accommodations for classes and exhibits.
        Although her personal artistic endeavors primarily involved painting, she also created a few pieces of sculpture and wrote two books of poetry.  She carefully supervised each aspect of the furnishing and design of her unique home.  Her third floor studio was specially designed to take advantage of natural light from the north windows.  In addition to her devotion to the arts, Grace Carpenter is remembered as a humanitarian and philanthropist lending her time to various youth, community and religious organizations.  She was active in the Wednesday Morning Club, served on the education and youth commissions of the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York and assisted in establishing St. Andrew’s Episcopal Mission Church at Lake Delta.  Additionally, she was one of the co-founders of the Women’s Community Center which later merged with the Rome YMCA to become the Rome Family Y.
        Grace Carpenter inspired cultural and artistic growth throughout the Rome community.  Reflecting her legacy and love of the arts, the Rome Art and Community Center provides activities and programs devoted to visual, literary and performing arts; holding true to Grace Carpenter’s vision.         

John F. Flaver
John Flaver was born March 4, 1925 in Islen, PA.  Shortly afterwards he moved with his family to Rome, N.Y. He was educated in the Rome city Schools. While in school, he studied clarinet with Eustachio Pinti and performed with the Liberty Club Band and the RFA Band.  He is a U.S. Army veteran, having served in the infantry in Western Europe during WW II, receiving a purple heart.  After mustering out after the war's end in 1945, he returned to Rome, N.Y. and began working in the Rome Manufacturing. He married Conchetta Amoroso in 1946. They have two children, three grand children, and one great grand child.
      John left the Rome Manufacturing in 1957, and started a teaching career in the Clinton Central Schools. He later taught in the N.Y. Mills Schools, St. Mary's School in Clinton, Rome Catholic High School, St. Peter's School in Rome, the YMCA Center for the Creative Arts, and was also an adjunct instructor in woodwinds at Hamilton College for twenty five years.  In 1966, he became the music director of the Rome Civic Band, while performing with the Utica Symphony Orchestra, and Utica Civic Band.  He joined the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra in 1970 and remained with that organization for twenty years.      John taught many private clarinet students in his home, and maintained a woodwind repair shop.  For many years he enjoyed the game of golf and playing bocce as a member of the Toccolana club.
      John Flaver's clarinet playing is best characterized by a beautiful sound, sensitive phrasing, and a total commitment to mastery of the instrument.  John also had a command of the bass clarinet and saxophone that was enviable.
      He is a warm person with a pleasing personality, and has always been sympathetic toward the needs of others. His energy, enthusiasm and sense of humor made John popular with many people.
     John Flaver's clarinet playing is best characterized by a beautiful sound, sensitive phrasing, and a total commitment to mastery of the instrument.  John also had a command of the bass clarinet and saxophone that was enviable.
     He is a warm person with a pleasing personality, and has always been sympathetic toward the needs of others. His energy, enthusiasm and sense of humor made John popular with many people.

Flo Hoppe
Flo Hoppe is a full-time studio artist, teacher, lecturer, and author. She was born Flo Fries in Chicago in 1942. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in textile and clothing design from Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. With her husband, Don who was in the Air Force, she moved 8 times in 5 years and had three children in two different countries. Their last posting, before being transferred to Rome in 1971, was for three years in Japan.  A 4th child was born in New Hartford a few years later. Flo felt that Rome was a good place to stay because of the outstanding schools, library, and Art Center.  Her basket making career started at that time with a hank of reed and small basketry booklet found in her mother's basement. Enjoying the baskets that she made from that booklet, she did research at Jervis Library for more information on the craft. After a year of experimenting on her own, she began to teach at the Rome Art and Community Center, which she did for more than 30 years.
       She began writing articles for magazines in the early 1980s, then went on to write two definitive books on wicker basketry in the late 80s and mid 90s: "Wicker Basketry" and "Contemporary Wicker Basketry", the latter being translated into German. She organized two basketry symposiums (1985 and 1991) at the Rome Art and Community Center. The international exhibits that were connected with these events promoted basketry as an art form. The publication of her second book thrust her onto the international stage and she has since exhibited and taught in many foreign countries: Japan, Russia, Canada, England, Tahiti, Australia, and later this year, New Zealand.
       She has just completed co-writing a book on Russian birch bark to be published later this year and is working on a bead book with internationally known bead artist, David Chatt.


Janet Foote
Janet Foote came to Rome with her Air Force Family at age 13 in 1956.  In 1971 she met and married Rod Foote when they worked together on productions at the Rome Community Theater, forming a partnership that led to the founding of The Chatham Theatre Company in 1982.
      While active at Rome Community Theater she, along with her husband, was awarded the Nora Burke Award and twelve Henry Awards for achievements in acting, production, direction and design.  Together they were responsible for producing cultural events such as The National Players at the Capitol Theatre, hosting a statewide summer theatre festival called Summer Showcase, and developing large scale theatrical productions for children.
      Janet taught Theatre Arts at Note Dame High School in Utica for 5 years, conducted theater workshops in several fields for The Girl Scouts of America, BOCES, area schools, and colleges. She worked professionally as actress, director, acting coach, make-up artist, set designer and costume designer at various theaters, opera companies and television production companies around New York State.   She has been listed in Who’s Who in Entertainment and Who’s Who in America.
      After forming the Chatham Theatre Company she worked with her husband in all areas of theatre including writing the original scripts of musicals, comedies and children’ s plays produced by their professional company.

Rod Foote
Rod Foote was born in New York City in 1938 and came to Rome in 1955 as an air traffic controller at Griffiss Air Force Base.  Once here, he began a lengthy relationship with the Rome Community Theater.  He was twice RCT's president and several years on its board of trustees as well as an award winning actor, director, and designer.  He was also active in other upstate theater and opera companies as an actor and director.
      In 1982 he and his wife Janet formed the Chatham Theatre Company of Rome as a professional production company.  In the ensuing years, their company has produced more than 135 plays, comedies, and musicals, many of which were written by Rod or Janet.  By 2006, these shows had drawn more than a quarter million playgoers from all over the U.S. and Canada.
      In addition to their company's regular productions, Rod produced and designed, while Janet wrote and directed, several Children's Theater musical plays that toured elementary schools throughout New York State.
      Rod has written and directed dozens of scripts including several unique documusicals that showcase noted historical eras.  Included among these productions are shows about The Great Depression, World War II, and a musical about Rome and the building of the Erie Canal.

2005 Inductees

Amy Bartell
Artist/Activist Amy is a nationally known visual artist and activist.  She is committed to using her talent to provide images that bring social issues to light.  Amy was born in Rome, graduated from RFA and lives now in Syracuse.  She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the State University of New York at Oswego. Many artists do not achieve in a lifetime, the recognition Amy Bartell has achieved at a young age.  Her artwork is currently in the permanent collections of organizations which include Trump Towers, Savran Bank, Price Waterhouse and SUNY New York.  Many individuals are avid collectors of her work.  Amy utilizes a variety of medium for her original pieces including hand-made paper, pastels, acrylics and water colors.  Her works are frequently recognizable because of her use of vivid color and bold strokes.  The Mural Project has brought much attention recently to Amy's work.  The project began in 1996 when the Women’s Commission at the University of New Hampshire solicited her to reproduce one of her original works of art as a mural to celebrate Woman Suffrage.  The final mural which was created in the student union, measured nine feet by thirteen feet and took about two weeks to complete.  During the two week period, Amy had many opportunities to speak with student groups and provide workshops.  The “hands-on” experience with youth, lead her to determine to re-create the experience with other university groups.  Thus, the Mural Project was born and continues today having covered many different subjects and aspects of human awareness.  It has taken place in the states of Washington, Minnesota, Maryland, Connecticut, New Hampshire and California; as well as many locations throughout New York State.  The Mural Project has also been adopted by not-for-profit organizations including AIDS Community Resources, Rape Crisis Center, Central New York Food Bank and an inner city Syracuse nursing home.  AE Originals (aeoriginals.com) is the business organization, owned and operated by Amy and her partner Michelle Brisson.  The business provides many different forms of Amy’s creations including posters, postcards and note cards which are distributed through museums, galleries and catalogs.  Distribution points include the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C, The Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, the National Women’s History Museum in Seneca Falls and Liberty Museum in Philadelphia 

Michael Burkard
Poet and Author Michael Paul Burkard has written nine books of poetry and is currently at work on a new poetry book, "THE GREEN IN THE SUN", as well as at work on a book of short fiction and essays.  Michael was born (1947) and raised in Rome, and returned to live in Rome in the 1980s.  He completed degrees at Hobart College and the University of Iowa.  He now resides in Syracuse where he teaches in the Master of Fine Arts Creative Writing program at Syracuse University.  Michael received two grants in poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts (1984 and 1992).  He has also received grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts and a Whiting Writers' Award In 1988.  He is a former writing fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown.  A work-in-progress received the Alice Fay di Castagnola Award from the Poetry Society of America.  Among his books are My SECRET BOAT and FICTIONS FROM THE SELF (both published by W W Norton), ENTIRE DILEMMA and UNSLEEPING (both published by Sarabande Books), and PENNSYLVANIA COLLECTION AGENCY (Western Michigan University Press).  Michael has worked extensively with community classes at the Rome Art and Community Center, the Central New York Community Arts Council and Syracuse University’s community programs.  He was a creative arts counselor at Amethyst Counseling Services in Oneida and, early on in his writing life, a psychiatric aide at McLean's hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts.  His father Paul Burkard lives in Newburyport, Massachusetts where his sister Elizabeth Casazza resides with her husband, Charles, Michael's niece Kristin and nephew Jeffrey.  His brother is Peter Burkard.  Michael’s mother Nettie was born in Nova Scotia, Canada, and died in 1992.  He graduated from Rome Free Academy in 1964.  His friendships from Rome and his love of the area appear often as subject matter in his writings and drawings. 

Tom Foster
Theatrical Director/Designer If you, your parents or your children attended Staley Junior High School, chances are very good Tom Foster was your art teacher.  And if you have attended a performance at the Rome Community Theater, chances are very good that Tom Foster sold you a ticket at the box office and that his name appeared on the production program in at least one major category.  Tom Foster was born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.  He is a graduate of the Massachusetts College of Art with post graduate study in theater and art education at Syracuse University and The State University of New York at Oswego.  Tom’s first teaching assignment was at the West Springfield Massachusetts Junior High School where he taught art for one year in 1956.  He then taught the army something about art as he served Uncle Sam from 1957 to 1959.  Following his service career, Tom came to Rome and started a very long tenure as an art teacher at Staley Junior High (from 1959 to 1989).  During that time, he was named Outstanding Young Educator by the Rome Jaycees.  He also received The Saul Lazovik Service to the Arts Award and was honored by the City of Rome for his contribution to the arts.  When he retired from Staley, the Board of Education honored him by naming the school auditorium Foster Hall.  During his years at Staley, Tom also taught a ninth grade class in theater and served as Director of the Staley Music Theater for more than twenty-five years.  It was sometime in the early (Foster continued) 1960’s that Tom first volunteered at Rome Community Theater.  He believes his first assignment was helping to design and build a stage set.  Since that time, he has been involved in just about every aspect of theatrical production both on and off stage.  In the past few seasons he has directed “Meet Me In St. Louis”, “Little Me”, “State Fair”, “Babes In Toyland”, “Tapestry”, "The Pied Piper" and "Silk Stockings".  In addition to directing, Tom has served as costume designer, set designer, scenic painter and producer for well over one hundred RCT productions.  Additionally, Tom has used his many talents to direct and produce several benefit performances for the Capitol Theatre, the Rome United Way and the Rome Heart Fund.  Tom currently serves as a member of the Rome Community Theater’s board of directors and was elected board president on seven separate occasions.  He is the recipient of numerous Henry Awards.  Henry Awards are given each year for outstanding production and acting accomplishments as determined by a group of RCT season ticket holders.  Continuing his service to the arts and to Rome, Tom organized and served as director for the Voices of Rome.  He has also served as a volunteer in many capacities at the Rome Art and Community Center, the Rome Art Association and the Capitol Theatre.

James McDermid
Sculptor As an artist and educator, Jim McDermid has lived in Rome for almost fifty years.  He is best known as a sculptor and has taught that art to students at Mohawk Valley Community College, Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute, Kirkland College and the Rome Art and Community Center.  Jim earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Syracuse University and a Master of Fine Arts from Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.  He has served as artistic director for the storefront School of the Arts; Piccolo Spoleto Festival, USA and has participated in the artist in residency program for the New York Foundation for the Arts and the Arts in Education Institute of Utica.  He has had solo exhibitions at Munson Williams Proctor Museum of Art, The Kirkland Art Center, Rome Art and Community Center, The Little Falls Center for the Arts and has participated in many invitation group exhibitions and regional shows.  Jim works in many media but is probably best known throughout Central New York for his wood sculptures.  He was commissioned to carve a twenty-two foot maple tree on Elmer Hill Road near Lake Delta to depict the spirit of the town of Delta which was flooded when the lake was created.  Jim also carved and painted a large sculpture which was used as the centerpiece for the National Watercolor Exhibition 2001 in Old Forge, New York.  In collaboration with Rev. Walter Madej, Jim created two sculptures which now reside on the corner of Oneida and James Street in Utica.  Also with Rev. Madej, Jim created a stainless steel and copper Bell Monument which sits on Main Street in New York Mills as a historical reference to the village’s past and in honor of the mill workers who formed the majority of the village’s earliest population.  Jim uses a figurative image in both realistic and abstract ways to express human content. Much of his sculpting is done from natural tree wood, often hollow logs.  In addition (McDermid continued) to wood, Jim also uses stone or steel and at times, a combination of materials.  Much of his work is created in the former Marcy Grange Hall which he has converted to his studio.  Jim is married to Rome native Jane Russell and together they have three grown sons. 

John Hayes O’Neill
Dance Master The John Hayes O’Neill Studio of Dance has been an institution in Rome for nearly eighty years.  It was founded by Mr. O’Neill in the early 1930s.  John Hayes O'Neill began teaching dance in 1917 at the age of sixteen.  In addition to his love for dance, John Hayes O’Neill is best remembered for his skills in mentoring young performers and his support for community activities.  While continuing to teach locally, Mr. O’Neill also shared musical theatre billings with some of the best known musical stars and dancers of the era including Joe E. Brown.  John Hayes O’Neill danced with the legendary Ted Shawn and Ruth St. Denis, the originators of modern dance in the United States.  Mr. O’Neill had taught extensively in the Southern States as well as New England and New York before setting up his permanent studio in Rome.  Although dancing was John’s passion, he was also active in the Rome Community Concert Association and the Rome Civic Theatre (which joined with another group to become the Rome Community Theater in 1953).  John’s tenor voice was often a part of choral presentations and he frequently soloed at church functions.  He was an avid supporter of the Boy Scouts and was part of a fiftieth anniversary celebration of troop number ten of St. Peter’s Church as one of the troop’s original members.  Mr. O’Neill touched countless Rome residents through his teaching.  He passed away in 1986.  Shortly after his death, the John Hayes O’Neill Studio of Dance was reopened in his name by his protégé, Stephen J. Jackson and his wife, Canan. 

Jack Palmer
Musician Jack Palmer was born in Rome in 1913.  He spent much of his professional life in New York City and traveling throughout the United States.  He returned to Rome where he performed locally for many years before his death in the year 2000.  Jack was an original member of the Harry James orchestra.  His instrument was the trumpet, though at one time he was also vocalist for the Harry James orchestra.  Jack Palmer was best known for his musical performances in the genre of The Swing Era, Big Bands and traditional jazz.  Jack made music with the best including Red Norvo, Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Tommy Dorsey, Glen Miller, Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Count Basie and Mildred Bailey.  Jack moved to New York City as a young man and was playing club dates in Newark, New Jersey when he met Jackie Gleason.  They became friends and several years later Jack joined the Sammy Spears orchestra (studio orchestra for the Honeymooners and the Jackie Gleason Variety Show).  It was during the time Jack lived in New York City that he met a skinny young singer by the name of Frank Sinatra.  In fact, Jack and Frank were roommates for a time.  Until Frank joined the Harry James band in 1939, Jack was both vocalist and trumpet player for the group.  After awhile Sinatra left the James group to join the Tommy Dorsey orchestra.  You’ll find Jack’s credit on many of Sinatra’s most popular recordings.  In between recording dates, big band tours and broadcast studio groups, Jack played in the orchestra pit for many  Broadway shows.  Additionally, he took over the Bunny Berigan band for a period of time.  In the late 1960s Jack moved back to Rome.  He opened the Palmer House on Turin Road.  During that time, Jack also managed bands which backed touring performers who appeared at the Three Rivers Inn and later at Bruno’s Beach House near Syracuse. 

Maria Russo
Dramatic Soprano Maria Russo is known throughout Europe, Asia, North and South America.  Her performance last May as Brunnhilde in Wagner’s Ring Cycle was featured in a front page story of the New York Times.  Maria Russo, a Rome native and graduate of RFA, began her musical studies at Nazareth College (BS in Music Theory) and completed her Master of Vocal Performance at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.  She attended the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia for further intensive operatic training and performance practice.  As a participant in the Merola Apprentice Program at the San Francisco Opera, she made her debut as Rosalinde in "Die Fledermaus" [The Bat], and, a selected student at the Aspen Festival, she was cast as Brünnhilde in the famous "Ride of the Valkyres".  Thus began her early flirtation with the music of Richard Wagner.  Her voice teachers were Elizabeth Fischer, Nancy Williams and Eva Illes and she coached extensively with Ettore Campogaliani in Italy.  As first place winner of the East and West Artists competition, she was awarded a debut recital in Carnegie Hall which earned a glowing review from the New York Times.  Miss Russo, given a grant by the Sullivan Foundation in NYC to attend competitions, was awarded first prize in the prestigious German Radio Music Competition in Munich.  As a result, she made radio recordings with the Radio Orchestras of Munich, Berlin, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, and Hamburg.  She then became a member of the ensemble at the Stuttgart State Opera in Germany.  Her stay there was followed by four years at the State Theater in Linz, Austria and, for the following nine years, she sang as a member of the Vienna State Opera and Vienna Volksoper with constant and diverse guest appearances throughout Europe, Asia, and North and South America.   One of many highlights was at the Stuttgart State Opera where Maria Russo sang "Alceste" in the Robert Wilson production of Gluck's opera of the same name.  She was voted "best new female artist" in the German opera magazine "Opernwelt" [OperaWorld] for her portrayal as Elektra's sister in the John Dew production of "Elektra".  She brought her first Empress to life in Basel in a production of "Woman without a Shadow" (Kaiserin in "Frau Ohne Schatten").  Miss Russo has been heard as Abigaille in "Nabucco" in countless countries and dozens of theaters and she has often been (Russo continued) heard as another favorite Verdi heroine: "Aida" (Taipei, Bergen, St. Gallen, and in Syracuse, NY).  She has sung favorite Puccini roles like Giorgetta, Tosca and Turandot at the Zurich Opera, in Dresden and at the Vienna Volksoper.  A noted Wagner and Strauss specialist, Miss Russo has appeared as a guest artist with major opera companies including those of Trieste and Bologna, the Bavarian State Opera-Munich, Stuttgart, Hamburg, Mannheim, Hannover, Zurich, Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires and Teatro Teresa Carrena in Caracas as the heroines Elsa, Irene, Brünnhilde, Isolde, Elektra, Chrysothemis, and the Empress.  Maria Russo was "Marie" in the famous Willy Decker production of "Wozzeck" in Bologna and a celebrated Tosca in Bregenz In 2003, Maria Russo's debut at the glorious Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires as Senta in "The Flying Dutchman," under the baton of Charles DuToit, was a sensation.  Maria Russo recently made history singing "Brünnhilde," the epitome of operatic soprano roles, at the celebrated Teatro Amazonas in Brazil's very first "Ring Cycle."  On May 5, 2005, the New York Times front page story entitled "Adventures in Opera: A 'Ring' in the Rain Forest" wrote about it saying... "... the two complete stagings of the [Ring] cycle, which is scheduled to conclude on May 19, mark the first time that Wagner's most renowned and challenging work has been produced and performed in Brazil.  The significance of the event has thus attracted opera devotees not just from Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, but also from Europe and North America."  The production will move to São Paulo and Maria Russo's "Ho jo to ho" will be heard ringing throughout that theater.  Maria Russo has sung with international conductors such as Daniel Barenboim, Donald Runnicles, Peter Schneider, Christoph von Dohnányi, Danielle Gatti, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Michael Gielen, Charles DuToit, and Gerd Albrecht.

Harold Bell Wright
Author Harold Bell Wright was born in the house of his grandfather William B. Wright in Rome's Wright Settlement in 1872.  Battling persistent illness, laborious jobs, and the loss of his mother, Wright found solace in his deep religious beliefs and his love of literature.  He served as minister for many churches and for a time ventured upon a painting career.  Between 1903 and 1942, he wrote 19 books plus magazine articles and stage plays.  More than 20 movies have been adapted from his novels.  By the time of his death in 1944, six of Wright's works had appeared on best-sellers lists and he outsold every other American author for the first quarter of the century.
Though acclaimed as the first novelist to become a millionaire at his craft, Harold Bell Wright remained a down-to-earth, moral, humble man.  "If I have succeeded in touching the lives of those for whom I have written, as my mother touched my life, I ask for no better immortality."  (To My Sons, 1934)  Harold Bell Wright

The Harold Bell Wright Website