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The Distinguished Alumnus/Alumna Award

2018 Recipients

David M. Gerlach '83, Anne Coloton Williams '78

David Gerlach and Anne WilliamsSmall logo David M. Gerlach, the college’s former vice president for advancement and a 1983 graduate, and Anne Coloton Williams, former assistant to the vice president for advancement and a 1978 graduate.

In his humble beginnings, Gerlach started his 30-year career at SUNY Canton as a student worker in Chaney Dining Center. He became a resident assistant as a student, and then was hired as a residence hall director, and then director of residence life. He later became the dean of enrollment management, which is now equivalent to the director of admissions, and then secured his final position of vice president for advancement.

Williams began her 38-year career in the Word Processing Center. She earned a second degree while working at the college. She became a program aide in admissions where she first began working with Gerlach. In 2004, she continued working alongside Gerlach as the assistant to the vice president for advancement.


2017 Recipient

Kelly Obermayer '79

Kelly ObermayerSmall logo Kelly C. Obermayer, class of 1979, was selected for her volunteer leadership and her efforts to strengthen the bond between alumni and SUNY Canton. She is the current chair of the Alumni Association Board and also served as an advisor and board member for Pi Nu Epsilon, the college’s oldest sorority. During the sorority’s centennial year, she led a successful fundraising campaign to name the Chaney Dining Center atrium after Pi Nu Epsilon.

Obermayer’s volunteer work includes serving on the boards of the South Glens Falls Chamber of Commerce and the Christine Nicole Perry Fund. Most recently, she was selected as the chair of the Adirondack Nonprofit Business Council. Professionally, she has held leadership positions with several nonprofits and is currently the development director for the Moreau Community Center.

2016 Recipient

Kathy Wyckoff '77

Kathy WyckoffSmall logo Wyckoff was chosen for her contributions to the quality of women’s healthcare in the North Country through her work with Planned Parenthood, in addition to many years of service to the community.

Wyckoff and her husband, Peter, have been generous supporters and volunteers with many local nonprofit organizations, including Grasse River Heritage and Garden Share.

Over the years, the Wyckoffs have donated funds to purchase laboratory equipment for SUNY Canton’s Nursing program and have endowed a scholarship that is awarded to either an entering or continuing non-traditional Nursing student.

2015 Recipient

Kevin Fear '87

Kevin FearSmall logo After earning his associate degree in Banking, Insurance and Real Estate, Kevin Fear opened AA&J Insurance in Watertown in 1990. By 2000 the company had six offices throughout Central and Northern New York. Fear sold his share of the business and began Universe Cellular & Dish, which became one of the most successful Verizon agents in New York State. In 2009 he opened Mattress Express, which has locations in Watertown, Fort Drum and Pulaski.

Throughout his career, Fear has spearheaded countless philanthropic efforts, which range from organizing drop-off locations for Toys for Tots to matching donations for food drives. He has also given back to SUNY Canton by serving on the College Foundation Board of Directors since 2006 and establishing an endowed scholarship that has benefitted students with learning disabilities.

Fear also hosts alumni events and is a strong supporter of his fraternal organization Alpha Theta Gamma. In 2008 he donated $1,000 toward a scholarship for a Syracuse student whose family’s home was burglarized after a fire.

2014 Recipient

David A. Frary '70 '72

David FrarySmall logo A Massena native, Frary received degrees in Banking, Insurance and Real Estate, as well as Mortuary Science. As a licensed funeral director, owner and manager of Phillips Memorial Home, he is an advocate of quality end-of-life care for community members through his volunteer work with the St. Lawrence Valley Hospice and Palliative Care. He also uses his skills as a funeral director to reach out to grieving families and provide comfort at difficult times.

His support of the college has included serving on the SUNY Canton College Foundation board of directors since 1990. He is also a member of the Mortuary Science Advisory Committee and is a scholarship sponsor.


2013 Recipient

Robert M. Thompson Jr '42

Robert ThompsonSmall logo After graduating with a degree in Agriculture and taking over his family’s dairy farm in Flackville, Robert Thompson and his wife, Esther (Weatherup), purchased a farm in Lisbon in 1954. Thompson traveled the country to develop a prize-winning herd of Holstein cattle. He also was active in St. Lawrence County and New York state Holstein associations.

In addition to being a successful dairy farmer, he has given generously to the community through his participation in 4H, the Cornell Cooperative Extension and other agricultural organizations.

As an advocate for a quality education, Thompson served on the Lisbon School Board and was appointed to the SUNY Canton College Council in 1954. He was also a member of the first St. Lawrence County Board of Legislators and was recognized as a leader during his tenure.

Thompson’s family has strong ties to the College. His wife is a 1943 SUNY Canton alumna, and their children established the Thompson-Weatherup Family foundation in their parents’ honor, which, among other charitable endeavors, supports a SUNY Canton nursing scholarship. Thompson’s father, Robert Sr., graduated in 1910 as part of the second class of the Agricultural and Technical Institute at Canton, now known as SUNY Canton.

2012 Recipient

William D. Demo '57

William DemoSmall logo Bill owned the Demo Auctioneering and Appraisal Service and retired from the St. Lawrence Central School after teaching for 27 years. He is a member of the Canton College Foundation Board of Directors and has been a volunteer fireman for 58 years and town councilman for 51 years. He has been a generous benefactor to the College Foundation creating the Bill and Kathleen Demo and Family Endowed Scholarship. Mr. Demo is a leader in St. Lawrence County and a supporter of many organizations. He is also a behind the scenes supporter for many significant projects at the College.


2011 Recipient

Guilford 'Gil' White '68

Gil WhiteSmall logo A successful entrepreneur who has had a profound impact on the Akwesasne-St. Regis Mohawk Reservation and SUNY Canton is the recipient of the College's 2011 Distinguished Alumnus award.

Guilford 'Gil' White, class of 1968, will receive the prestigious honor at SUNY Canton's President's Gala on Thursday, May 19.

"Gil's leadership has benefited both the Akwesasne-St. Regis Mohawk Reservation and the SUNY Canton community," College President Joseph L. Kennedy said. "He had the foresight to see the potential for education and economic growth on the Reservation and took the necessary steps to ensure a higher quality of life in his community. We are proud to honor him with this award as a small token of our appreciation for his continued work on the Reservation and with the College."

White graduated from Massena Central High School in 1956 and was an ironworker on the St. Lawrence Seaway as well as Washington, D.C. and Boston. In 1966, he came to SUNY Canton where he pursued a degree in Construction Technology. While attending the College, he worked during vacations and helped build what is today's campus.

After graduating from SUNY Canton, he earned his bachelor's degree from Utica College of Syracuse University in Construction Management and went on to work with the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental, and Reinforcing Ironworkers Union in Washington, D.C. White was chosen to create and administer a new program assisting local unions and contractors across the United States in the implementation of Equal Employment Opportunity programs.

He returned to the Akwesasne-St. Regis Mohawk Reservation in 1983 after realizing the significant economic potential high stakes bingo could have on the community. He and his partners operated the Mohawk Bingo Palace until 1995 when he diversified his business to real property and development holdings and construction projects. His efforts helped bring Class 3 Casino Gaming to the Reservation.

In addition to his entrepreneurial endeavors, Mr. White and his family published a nationally-recognized Native People's newspaper called the People's Voice.

"Gil White is a true leader in his community and SUNY Canton's community," said Vice President for Advancement David M. Gerlach. "He joined the Foundation Board of Directors in 2010 and he is most deserving of our Distinguished Alumnus Award."

After joining the Board, White established a scholarship in memory of Professor Ross C. Hudson, who inspired him to continue his education and prepare him for a successful career. White is known for his devotion to causes which he is passionate about and serves the greater community as a member of the Massena Rotary Club. "Gil is a believer in the Rotary's motto, 'Service Above Self,' said John A. Murray, a fellow member. "He is generous in sharing his time, talent and treasures with others and has always been supportive of community and international projects. He is an exemplary community member and SUNY Canton alumnus."


2010 Recipient

John Halford '49

John HalfordSmall logo "John has been an extraordinary supporter of SUNY Canton and his hometown of Gouverneur," said SUNY Canton President Joseph L. Kennedy. "His commitment and dedication to our country and this College makes us proud in so many ways. His support and generosity toward his alma mater have been remarkable. We are proud to honor him with this award as a small token of our appreciation for his wonderful and productive involvement with us and his lifetime of exceptional achievements."

Halford and his wife Nelta recently made a donation in support of the Convocation, Athletic, and Recreation Center, which has been nicknamed Roos House. His donation secured the naming rights to an elevated seating and viewing area overlooking the new rink. Through their pledge, the exclusive area will be forever named the “Halford Alumni Suite.”

The Roos House seating area will be the second location on campus honored with the Halford name. In 2005, they pledged further support to the College Foundation, which led to the creation of the Halford Lobby on the entry level of the MacArthur Hall. They have also created an equipment endowment for the air conditioning technology programs and sponsor nine students annually through two scholarships.

“John has been a devoted SUNY Canton Alumnus for decades,” said Marti King MacArthur of the class of 1974 and 1978 and the 2007 recipient of the Distinguished Alumna award. “He has diligently supported and encouraged students and is committed to the value of a SUNY Canton education. He’s also an active community member.”

Through his endowments, Halford strives to help students realize their dreams and create chances where none previously existed. “College is all about opportunities in life,” he said. “I hope that through my scholarships I can help students see all the possibilities that lay ahead.”

At the age of 17, Halford entered the U.S. Marine Corps and served his country during World War II. After being honorably discharged, he returned to Gouverneur, finished high school, and went on to SUNY Canton (then called the Agricultural and Technical Institute) to study air conditioning technology. He then moved to Long Island and worked for Brookhaven National Laboratory as a technology specialist. He later became Suffolk County maintenance supervisor of buildings and grounds.

“John is one of the most impressive individuals I have ever met,” said Vice President for Advancement David M. Gerlach. “He fought for our country in World War II. He achieved tremendous success in his professional life. And throughout his entire life and even now, he is a complete gentleman who assists others whenever possible, particularly the young people of Gouverneur and Northern New York.”

He is a lifetime member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Gouverneur and a Mason of more than 50 years. He is a supporter of the E.J. Noble Hospital, Hermon-DeKalb Senior Citizens Center, and the Gouverneur Senior Citizens Center. He also volunteers for the Richville Library.

2009 Recipient

D. Edgar Cloce '59

D. Edgar CloceSmall logo “Ed has been an exceptional advocate for the College and has employed many of our graduates,” said Dennis Tuper, an Automotive Technology Instructor and 2002 alumnus. “TJ Toyota is a business leader in St. Lawrence County and the company has been recognized for its continued outstanding service, customer satisfaction, and community involvement at the corporate level.”

Professor Emeritus Walter R. Kingston was among the individuals to nominate Cloce for the award. Kingston referred to Cloce’s outstanding commitment to the North Country community. “It makes me proud to see one of my former students become such a superb example of the success that can be achieved at SUNY Canton,” Kingston said. “He is an ambassador for the college and role model for students and alumni alike.”

During the college’s recent Centennial Celebration, Cloce donated a Toyota Prius to the SUNY Canton Foundation. The brand-new, fuel-saving hybrid vehicle was raffled to raise proceeds for an Automotive Technology scholarship. Ed and his wife, Clara, have also endowed a family scholarship that further aids students in the program.

When asked about what he would like to share with future graduates of the college, Ed replied: “You will always remember your time here at SUNY Canton. Your education and experiences will serve you well throughout your career and your life, as it did in mine.”

2008 Recipient

Dale D. Major '70

Dale Major

Small logo "This quiet, intelligent, hard-working individual is well deserving of the recognition associated with the Distinguished Alumnus award," said William F. Peters, SUNY Canton Alumni Association Board Member (class of 1959). "Dale and his wife Sharon are highly active in the college's continuing growth and development."

Several of Major's numerous qualities were continually highlighted in his letters of recommendation for this esteemed accolade. Among his traits were his unassuming character, his steadfast dedication, and his continuing volunteerism. "Many times a neighbor needs help, either with a small job or big one, and Dale is there," noted Major's neighbor, Sandy Reader. "He volunteers his time and energies whenever needed with no regard to the time required. He never complains or hesitates. He puts all he has into the tasks put forth and makes things happen."

As a youth, he went through the ranks of the Boy Scouts of America earning the coveted Eagle Scout title. "I was fortunate enough to have a wonderful scoutmaster when I was in the scouts," Major recalled. "As an adult I wanted to give back a little bit."

Throughout his life, he has remained involved with the Boy Scouts. He earned the Silver Beaver Award in 2006, the highest honor bestowed upon an adult scout. "Dale has been an active registered Scouter for the last 22 years," said Nathan Boguhn, Mohawk Cayuga District Executive of the Boy Scouts of America. "He has served in the leadership position of Assistant Scoutmaster and received The District Award of Merit in 2002."

Major is a retired healthcare professional, who worked for 33 years with the Central New York Disabilities Service Office. He won the W.T. Wheeler Award in 1991 for his outstanding professionalism. "He always showed a great deal of concern and respect for everyone that he worked with," noted Sharon A. Hosey, Major's former supervisor. "Dale is known for the many different ideas and approaches he employed to provide the best services to those within our care."

Fred C. Liebi, 2006 Distinguished Alumnus Award recipient, who graduated in 1966, said that he was highly pleased that Major will be receiving this award. He too mentioned Major's unstoppable work ethic and quiet power, noting that Major never complains no matter what task he is assigned. "Dale is always the first one to ask what he can do to help you and the last to ask for any help himself," Liebi said.

Major and his wife reside in Rome. They are both active in the McConnellsville Community Church. They actively attend alumni gatherings and are frequent guests at SUNY Canton's annual Alumni Weekend celebration.

2007 Recipient

Marti King MacArthur '74 & '78

Marti King MacArthur '74 & '78

Small logo Marti King MacArthur's volunteerism both on campus and throughout the North Country has dramatically and positively influenced a countless number of individuals.

MacArthur currently serves on the United Helpers Board of Directors and has used her leadership abilities to help the organization move forward with a major capital campaign. She is active with the Canton-Potsdam Hospital Guild, St. Mary's Church and the Hugh C. Williams Parent Teacher Association.

"Marti has immersed herself in the community of Canton and is a marvelous representation of the college," said Assistant Director of Development Julie Parkman.

She has shown a continued commitment to her family in addition to her astonishing record of community service. MacArthur left her career at Kodak in Rochester to support her husband, Peter, during his 20-year military career with the U.S. Air Force. She helped support the families of enlisted personnel and coordinated several benevolent events. During this time she also began fundraising and orchestrating large benefits for Air Force functions, a skill that she has honed to near perfect status after 24 years of volunteering.

MacArthur was the driving force behind the SUNY Canton Centennial Gala, which raised more than $43,000 for student scholarships. She spent countless hours of her own time planning, organizing, and marketing the college's most successful celebratory fundraiser. Her efforts led the college to create an unrestricted scholarship endowment, which will allow more students to receive funding for their education.

MacArthur was one of the first two women to graduate from the heating and air conditioning program in 1978, which followed a 1974 degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences.

This year, she began working as an employee of SUNY Canton in the Alumni and Advancement Office and has served on the Alumni Board since 2002.

Marti and her husband reside in Canton. They have two children: Samantha, who is a senior at SUNY Oswego; and Shane, who is a sophomore at Hugh C. Williams High School in Canton.

2006 Recipient

Frederick (Fred) C. Liebi '66

Frederick (Fred) C. Liebi '66

Small logo Frederick (Fred) Liebi of Baldwinsville is a 1966 SUNY Canton alumnus who graduated from Camden Central School in 1964. He is the former President of the SUNY Canton Alumni Association. Liebi owns and operates FCL Management Inc., which specializes in the management and construction projects for various industrial, commercial, and private companies. Liebi recently managed the design and construction of a set for NBC's Today Show broadcasts of the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy.

Liebi studied Construction Engineering Technology at SUNY Canton, and then went on to work with Visconti Corporation in Solvay from 1966 to 1980. He then worked with Design Firm of Stetson Dale from Utica (which became Montgomery Watson Harza after mergers) from 1983 to 2003. In 2003, Liebi founded his own company.

Last year, Liebi and his wife, Karen, created the Liebi Endowed Scholarship at SUNY Canton. His donation came at a time when the college began expanding scholarships to encompass the entire duration of a student's education.

"We owe SUNY Canton a lot," Liebi said. "Not only for the formal education that I received, but also, and maybe even more important, the guidance, leadership and friendships that we have received through the College. I can never hope to repay the many faculty members and advisors that helped me during my initial two years at Canton and the many years after."

Liebi was very active in student organizations including the President's Council, the Cantonians, college chorus, and the Outing Club. He was also the President of Alpha Theta Gamma Fraternity during the 1965—66 college year.

"I hope that future SUNY Canton students experience the same guidance and education that my late sister Beverly Liebi, my niece Beth Bernier, my nephew Ryan Liebi, and I received," Liebi said. Mr. and Mrs. Liebi have two daughters, Heidi Liebi-Root and Wendi Liebi.

2006 Honorary Alumna

Blanche K. Woodcock

Blanche K. Woodcock

Small logo Blanche Woodcock has been one of the most dedicated and loyal volunteers in the history of SUNY Canton. She has played an integral role in involving alumni and businesses in the development and fundraising efforts of the college's Advancement Division.

Blanche was involved with SUNY Canton's first comprehensive fundraising campaign "Building on the Tradition" and is currently the co-chairperson of the college's Centennial Campaign along with her husband Ronald L. Woodcock '59. To date, the Centennial Campaign has raised nearly $8 million.

The Woodcocks recently hosted the largest alumni gathering outside of New York State in the history of the college at the beautiful West Bay Club in Estero, Florida. Blanche and Ron are also co-founders of the Woodcock Family Scholarship, established in 1990 in memory of their son, Mark R. Woodcock, who also attended SUNY Canton. Woodcock Family Scholarships are awarded annually to four SUNY Canton students.

According to President Joseph L. Kennedy, "Blanche possesses all of the attributes we strive to instill in our students and graduates. Her devotion and tireless work on our behalf have dramatically impacted the lives of our students."

Blanche is a native of Ogdensburg and a graduate of Ogdensburg Free Academy. She and Ron were married shortly after he graduated from SUNY Canton on August 29, 1959.

Blanche has been involved in Parent Teacher's Association, Girl Scouts and church organizations. She was a member of the Skaneateles Garden Club and is a current member of the Ogdensburg Garden Club. She has accumulated a number of blue ribbons and best of show awards at various flower shows. She is a benefactor of the Frederic Remington Art Museum and designed and donated the new kitchen for "Kids Place" at the Eva Caton House.

"The efforts of Blanche and Ron on behalf of SUNY Canton have truly been remarkable," Vice President of Advancement David M. Gerlach said. "Their leadership throughout our Centennial Campaign has been inspiring and invaluable."

The Woodcocks have three daughters: Sue E. Woodcock, who is completing her Master of Education at Salem State College in Salem, Mass.; Kelly A. Duester, who holds a Master of Education from Russell Sage in Troy, and is a Reading Recovery Specialist for the Baldwinsville School District; and Lisa A. Bonahoom, who is working with autistic children at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, while pursuing her Master's Degree in Speech Therapy.

2005 Recipient

Joel M. Canino

Joel M. Canino

Small logo Joel Canino, Class of 1959, is a partner of Gemma Power Systems of Glastonbury, Connecticut. Mr. Canino graduated with an associate of applied science in air conditioning engineering technology. He was born in Phoenix, New York, and grew up in Baldwinsville, New York. He enrolled at SUNY Canton immediately after his 1957 graduation from Baldwinsville High School. He was well prepared for his curriculum, as he and his two brothers assisted his father, the late Daniel M. Canino, with his plumbing business.

After graduating, Mr. Canino worked as an industrial purchasing agent for Inland Supply Company in Syracuse, New York. He was soon noticed, and just a year later was offered a position at the Syracuse construction contracting firm of H.H. and F.E. Bean, Inc. where he eventually became executive vice president. In 1973, he moved to Orlando, Florida, to work for the Pittsburgh-based mechanical contracting firm of Sauer Industries, where he served as president of various subsidiaries. In 1984, he became president of C.N.F. Industries in Meridan, Connecticut.

Mr. Canino and his partner began Gemma Power Systems in 1997. Gemma Power Systems has become the largest power plant builder of its kind in New England and one of the top in the nation. The firm manages the engineering, procurement and construction of billions of dollars worth of power projects.

Mr. Canino has five children, including a son who graduated from SUNY Canton. His brother and nephew are SUNY Canton alumni as well. Mr. Canino's commitment to SUNY Canton includes sharing his professional expertise as a member of the Air Conditioning Engineering Technology Advisory Committee and as a member of the Canton College Foundation Board of Directors.

2004 Recipient

Mark Bondoni

Mark Bondoni

Small logo After receiving his degree in Automotive Technology in 1981, he went on to SUNY Oswego to earn a degree in Business Administration Management.

From there, Mark went to work for Ford Motor Company where he has been for the past 19 years. Positions held included District Parts and Service Representative and Luxury Car Manager while in New Jersey. In San Juan, Puerto Rico, he was the Parts and Service Manager at Ford's Caribbean and Latin America District in charge of parts and service for 80+ dealerships. He had a major impact in the Caribbean market when he developed and launched a Parts Shipment Initiative that slashed parts delivery timing to Puerto Rico from 23 days down to only 4 days.

In 1995, he and his family settled in Detroit, MI where he has worked in the Marketing and Sales Division of the Ford Customer Service Division. He has been very active with NASCAR promotions for Ford.

As Quality Care Service, NASCAR Motorsports Manager, Mr. Bondoni was responsible for running the day-to-day business of a NASCAR team sponsor while facing off with NASCAR's Robert Yates Racing and driver Dale Jarrett. During this time, the Quality Care Service / Robert Yates Racing Team won the 1999 NASCAR Winston Cup Championship.

Mr. Bondoni also negotiated a co-sponsorship with the United States Air Force to be a Marketing Partner on the #21 NASCAR Winston Cup Ford Taurus of Wood Brothers Racing. He was invited to participate in a US Air Force F-15 Strike Eagle Demonstration ride.

Mr. Bondoni currently holds the position of Collision Parts Marketing Manager responsible for Ford Motor Company Collision Parts Marketing initiatives to over 4,500 Ford, Lincoln & Mercury Dealerships.

Mr. Bondoni is married to wife, Denise, and has two children, Kailyn 5 and Joseph 2. His parents and one sister still reside in Camillus, NY, and one sister in Greenback, TN.

2003 Recipient

R. Peter Heffering

R. Peter Heffering '51

Small logo R. Peter Heffering, a 1951 SUNY Canton graduate is known as "the great artist" of Holstein cattle breeding. After graduating, he worked as a herdsman at the former Beacon Milling Company Research Farm in central New York. He later moved on and established his own farm, Hanover Hill. Hanover Hill Holsteins produced 140 proven sires including the legendary Hanover Hill Starbuck, who died at age 19 in September 1998 leaving behind 200,000 registered offspring on five continents.

In 1998, Heffering sold his Hanover Hill herd and focused his attention on a new passion, Standardbred Horses. He and his, son, David are partners in Tara Hills, a Standardbred horse farm in Port Perry, Ontario. Together they are making a huge impact on the racing industry. Mr. Heffering returned to campus on May 17, 2003 to address the 2003 graduates of SUNY Canton. He shared the story of how he used his SUNY Canton education and his own initiative to follow through on his boyhood dreams. Mr. Heffering and his wife Apryll, now divide their time between Port Perry, Ontario and Boca Raton, Florida.

2002 Recipient

 C. Bruce Ratliff

C. Bruce Ratliff '68

Small logo C. Bruce Ratliff is the 2001-2002 SUNY Canton Distinguished Alumni. Mr. Ratliff, who resides in Baldwinsville, graduated from SUNY Canton with an associates degree in Air Conditioning Engineering Technology. He has climbed to president of the highly successful and respected, Woodcock and Associates. Mr. Ratliff serves on SUNY Canton's Air Conditioning Engineering Technology advisory board which helps to keep the curriculum current with the latest industry trends.