2018 Orleans County Heritage Heroes worked to promote local history
Press Release, Genesee Community College
The Orleans County Heritage Heroes Awards recognize the work and dedication of those who give their time and resources to preserve and protect the history of Orleans County for future generations.
A new group of Heritage Hero honorees will be recognized at a special ceremony on April 27 at 7 p.m. at Genesee Community College’s Albion Campus Center. The awards are co-sponsored by SUNY GCC and the Orleans Hub. The entire community is invited to come and help honor these important individuals.
“The Heritage Heroes Awards serve not only to honor deserving community members and thank them for their invaluable efforts, but to remind us all that the responsibility of preserving our heritage is incumbent upon the living generations,” says Derek Maxfield, associate professor of history at GCC and member of the Heritage Heroes executive committee. “It is an important undertaking that we all should share in.”
The 2018 Orleans County Heritage Heroes include:
Organist and director of Music at St. Mary’s Church in Medina, Aaron Grabowski has always had a passion for making music. However, Grabowski is more than a musician, he also builds organs. Prior to moving to Medina, he acquired a circa 1890s Barkhoff pipe organ, which was originally installed in Annunciation RC Church in Buffalo, built just a few years before St. Mary’s. When he joined St. Mary’s Church, it was evident to him that the church’s ailing electronic organ needed to be replaced. Although the original pipe organ was removed from the balcony many years ago, the organ facade (consisting of exposed pipes and oak millwork) remained intact. Upon inspection of the organ loft, Grabowski knew a proper pipe organ, befitting of the church’s history and space could be installed. Grabowski and several other interested parishioners worked together and decided he would install his Barkhoff organ in at St. Mary’s, and do the work himself! The Barkhoff was a perfect fit, given its age (built within a decade of St. Mary’s), classical voicing and having been designed by the same architect, Albert A Post. Grabowski’s dedication and hard work will fill the nave of St. Mary’s for generations to come.
Diane Palmer has always been a historian at heart and has long lent her talents and dedicated her time serving the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) and the Cobblestone Society & Museum. Currently a member of the Board of Trustees at the Cobblestone Society & Museum, Palmer recently coordinated two very successful historic tours – one of Cobblestone homes and the other a holiday tour of prominent local homes and churches. The December 2017 Holiday Tour included eight historical sites in Orleans County: the Pullman Memorial Universalist Church, the Orleans Chapter DAR House and six residences entailing architecture ranging from Greek and Gothic Revival to Cobblestone.
Noted local artist for over 30 years and constant advocate for the community, Arthur Barnes uses his artwork to celebrate Orleans County and its rich history. Barnes created a series of four large-scale murals depicting the Erie Canal which can be enjoyed in Medina, Knowlesville, Albion and Holley. Both a photographer and artist, Barnes highlights local tourism landmarks, such as the County Courthouse, the Culvert in Ridgeway and Mount Albion Tower. However, most of his work pays homage to the houses, barns and beautiful rural landscape of the area. These pieces serve to document Orleans County history as several of the houses and barns in his paintings are no longer standing. In 2000, Barnes bought a cobblestone building in Millville originally built as a Quaker meeting house in 1841. Barnes has repaired the roof and spent countless hours on additional improvements to spare what would have been an inevitable collapse of the building.
Teacher and historian, Roy Bubb added author to his resume when he penned Memories of Manning Corners: History of the Bubb Family and its Neighborhood 1931-1942, which is a retrospective on growing up in Orleans County. In 1986, Bubb retired from The SUNY College of Brockport after 25 years of service providing the best possible learning environment to future educators. In the late ’60s, Bubb co-created a simulation program that received recognition from the National College Association. Since then, Bubb has published nearly a half dozen books including his 2017 work, The Family Scrapbook, An Era in Clarendon and Holley-Murray’s History. Proceeds from Bubb’s many works benefit both the Madison Historical Society in Madison, NH, and the Clarendon Historical Society in Clarendon, NY.
Receiving the Bill Lattin Municipal Historian Award – Lysbeth “Betsy” Hoffman
Since 1980, Lysbeth “Betsy” Hoffman has served her community researching information, collecting names and dates, archiving and cataloging, and writing as the Town of Carlton Historian. Former Orleans County Historian Bill Lattin knew Hoffman as an invaluable resource, one who would always have the answer. For many years Hoffman was a regular columnist for the Medina Journal-Register reporting the “goings on” in Lakeside. She developed special displays in the Carlton Town Hall and was an avid collector of archival material that continues to aid and educate future generations.
Receiving the Bob Waters Lifetime Achievement Award – Marsha DeFillips
One of the longest servicing municipal historians in Orleans County, Marsha DeFillips has been the Holley-Murray Town historian for over 40 years. Very active in the Holley-Murray Historical Society, DeFillips was influential in establishing the Murray-Holley Historical Society Museum in the old train depot and has led multiple talks and workshops and helped many residents trace their own familial roots. Recently DeFillips teamed with Melissa Ierlan to present “Digging up your ancestors online” which is a public workshop designed to encourage and guide individuals down their own genealogy path. One of the signature accomplishments during her term as town historian has been her creation of an Index of personal names in Landmarks of Orleans County. To do this, DeFillips spent many months combing through and extracting every name mentioned in Isaac Signor’s 1894 publication, developing a permanent record of history.
The award ceremony on April 27 will be at GCC’s Albion Campus Center located at 456 West Ave. The event is free to attend and open to the public, but seating is limited. A reception will follow the ceremony featuring light refreshments.