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Area legends named to 2020 Cortland County Hall of Fame

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Five local legends were named yesterday to Homeville Museum’s 2020 Cortland County Hall of Fame, although next Saturday’s official induction ceremony is postponed indefinitely due to COVID-19.

Still being decided is whether to schedule a new date for the event or to push it online, which could then be attended virtually by members of the community.

More details are expected soon on the Homeville Museum’s website and Facebook page.

This year’s honorees were selected from a pool of community nominations, each advocating for extraordinary individuals who made significant impacts with their lives during the county’s more than 200-year history.

“As with every previous year, there were many more deserving individuals nominated than selected,” said Kim Walsh, president of the Homeville Museum. “Three of the five honorees this year had also been nominated in at least one previous year; the two others were first nominated this year.”

Walsh thanks participating community members for their efforts along with those who served on the selection committee, which included Eric Mulvihill, Evan Faulkenbury, Tabitha Scoville, Marsha Powell and Joe Cortese.

The 2020 nominees are as follows, sorted in chronological order by birth year:

Charles L. Reason (1818-1893): Educator and abolitionist

Reason was the first African- American to serve as a professor at a majority-white college (McGrawville College, later
named the New York Central College at McGrawville).

He was a child prodigy in mathematics and also taught Greek, Latin, French and the sciences.

James Squires (1819-1900): Businessman and philanthropist

Squires was an avid supporter of affordable housing, public schools, railroad development & funding and the First
Baptist Church in Cortland.

His legacy includes founding the State Normal School in Cortland and erecting the Squires Building.

Dr Lydia Hammond Strowbridge (1830-1904): Physician, suffragette, abolitionist and progressive reformer

Despite her own serious health issues, Stowbridge studied with local doctors in NYC—one of the earliest women to do so–and practiced medicine in Cortland County, specializing in women’s and children’s diseases.

She brought attention to many social issues, including abolition of slavery, women’s suffrage, the temperance movement and women’s dress reform.

Alton B. Parker (1852-1926): NY Supreme Court Justice and Politician

Educated at the Cortland Academy, State Normal School (SUNY-Cortland) and Albany Law School, Parker ran for President of the United States against Theodore Roosevelt in 1904.

A career attorney and justice, he argued his first case before the Court of Appeals in 1874. His career merged politics and law for many years; he became the youngest judge of the NYS Supreme Court at age 33.

Parker was elected Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals in 1897. After the election of 1904, he represented progressive causes as an attorney, and was a founder of the American Bar Association.

Gary Wood (1942-1994): Football quarterback for Cortland High School, Cornell University, two NFL teams

Wood was All-American Honorable Mention, member of the AP All-East team and National Honor Society, and set numerous Ivy League career and single-season records.

He was inducted into the Cornell Athletic Hall of Fame in 1989, and the NY Sports Hall of Fame and National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 1996.

(photo belongs to Homeville Museum)

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