Albright showed her tenacity and grace in attending function for Lakeside Foundation

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 16 April 2022 at 8:49 am

BROCKPORT – A short time ago, former Albion resident Cora Goyette shared her memories of meeting and hosting General Colin Powell at Lakeside Foundation’s annual gala.

Madeline Albright’s official portrait when she was secretary of state.

Now the death of another prominent American, Madeleine Albright, has sparked more memories for Goyette, who met the dignitaries when she worked for the lakeside Foundation in Brockport.

Albright was America’s first woman to hold the post of secretary of state from 1997 to 2001. She passed away from cancer at age 84 on march 23.

As director of development of the Lakeside Foundation in Brockport, Goyette invited and spent time with Albright when she was the guest of honor at the 2002 annual gala.

Goyette calls her experience “A Tale of Two First Ladies – Madeleine Albright and Barbara Bush,” and their connection to upstate New York weather and a small community hospital.

In 1994, when Lakeside was planning its sixth annual gala and invited Barbara Bush, the First Lady replied she could not attend in October because she had two sons running for office – George in Texas and Jeb in Florida. However, she replied, if the date could be changed she would be delighted to accept the invitation.

“And so it was, the first Friday in December became the traditional date for the gala,” Goyette said.

This, however, brought concern for staff because of the uncertainty of Rochester weather.

Goyette fast forwards to 2002. Following a long line of eminent speakers, including presidents Bush and Ford, generals Colin Powell and Norman Schwarzkopf, British Prime Minister John Major and America’s most trusted journalist Walter Cronkite, Madeleine Albright graciously accepted a similar invitation, Goyette said.

“Then Mother Nature intervened and for the first time in eight years, a snow storm occurred, like no other,” Goyette recalled.  “So how does a stoic immigrant deal with the situation? She personally decided not to fly, but took it upon herself to travel by train from New York City to Rochester, leaving in the early morning hours to ensure arrival and success for Lakeside.”

Goyette said throughout the day Albright displayed her graciousness and tenacity as a human being. Her life stories as an immigrant, first to the United Kingdom and then to the United States, were tinged with humorous encounters with world leaders and entertained an audience of 800 guests.

In June 2000, Albright and representatives from every region of the world convened the first ever conference of democracies.

Goyette considers herself truly honored to have such a woman, and was deeply saddened at news of her recent death.

“She was a truly remarkable lady who served her adopted country,” Goyette said.

As a footnote, Goyette added that Lakeside Health System’s reputation with the speakers’ circuit was well-known and respected by all involved in the planning and execution of galas. So when the executive director whispered into Secretary Albright’s ear apologies for the dessert being served five minutes late, Albright winked and said with a wry smile, “How could you let this happen?”

Similarly, when former First Lady Barbara Bush was in attendance, staff knew where to place her aides during dinner. In Bush’s own words, she said, “I take my shoes off, so can you, but my aide will not retrieve yours if they fall off the risers.”