By Jasmine Willis
DANSVILLE — For five years the school has honored leaders, business owners, historic figures, teachers, entrepreneurs, coaches, and champions.
Every face on the Wall of Pride that students walk by in Dansville Central School has a unique success story with a foundation tied to the area.
On Oct. 19, The Foundation for Dansville Education held its Fifth Annual Wall of Pride Ceremony at the Dansville American Legion. The Dansville High School Chamber Singers performed. Connie and Henry were the musical guests this year. Chef C.J. FitzPatrick provided the meal this year.
This year we honored Jane Schryver, Jennifer Welch Brushafer, C. Arthur Seymour, Paul Wamp Jr., and Mike Welch.
Dansville Central Superintendent, Paul Alioto said the foundation has now approved six therapy dogs and handlers that have been a main source of comfort in the school.
“Modeling success for our young people by celebrating role models is absolutely critical for the revitalization and survival of our community. The stories of our inductees will be told in perpetuity along the main corridor of Dansville High School where rows of plaques mark our Wall of Pride. Teachers will continue to bring students to the wall to learn about our inductees, research their stories, write about them, and one day emulate them. We the adults have to remember the proud history and present of Dansville,” he said.
Don Sylor had shared his vision for this long ago and with the help of his loving wife, Sue Sylor, the memory of his dream lives on in Wall of Pride.
Barb Frazer introduced Jennifer Welch Brushafer as her oldest and dearest childhood friend.
“Her deep-rooted faith has always been about giving back to others. Jennifer has always been this way. She told me she donated a kidney, because Sue really needed it. That is what she is about, faith and family. Jen is driven by passion of those around her. Her passion keeps her going every single day. Job well done my friend, be proud of who you are, you have earned it,”she said.
Brushafer said she has done all she could to help others the best way possible.
“No act of kindness no matter how small is ever wasted. I noticed a frail man and his wife one day, so I decided to make him dinner. When I brought the dinner to them, I had gotten a thank you in the mail. Not long after that the man passed away. When I donated my kidney to Sue Mettler, I got dinner and a note from that frail man’s wife. She gave me a card that said kindness is contagious,” she said. “My son noticed a young man who didn’t have a coat when it was cold outside, so we went home and got my husband’s brand-new jacket and gave it to the man. If we all showed kindness for others the world would be a better place. Kindness is contagious.”
Paul Hoffman introduced Jane Schryver as his long-time partner of over 30 years.
“She is a pillar of the community. I have been her life partner for 33 years or more. She has been a wonderful mother to my daughter Sarah. She is a very strong-willed woman,” he said. “When she was 10 years old she saw an ad in the girl scouts magazine to sell American Greeting Cards. She sent in for it and when the box came her parents were none too happy. She went on to sell greeting cards until she went to college. Jane is a kind and giving person who loves children.”
Hoffman said she went on to do kindness for others in the community as a teacher, real estate salesperson, and a neighbor. She continues to donate to local charities she is passionate about.
William Seymour accepted the award for his late-father C. Arthur Seymour who would’ve been 100 years old. Although, his roots did not start in Dansville the Seymour family loved and honored this town.
“We encouraged education in this family. Dad was a science teacher and coach. Dad made Dansville his home and never looked to apply or move anywhere else,” Jane Behnk, Arthur Seymour’s daughter said. “He involved himself in the school and community. Dansville was his home. He was mayor from 1979 until 1983. He worked on expanding Babcock Park.”
“My dad exemplified family, faith in God, and service to community. My sister said it all. He believed in this community and made it his home. It means a lot to me that he is being recognized tonight. He was known as Uncle Chucky in the school,” William Seymour, Arthur Seymour’s son said. “He had lots of great respect from his peers. He loved this community. I moved away. You can take the boy out of Dansville, but you can’t take Dansville out of the boy.”
Barry Haywood had the honor of introducing Paul Wamp Jr. who mean’t a lot to him. Tom Wamp, Paul’s son accepted the award.
“Paul talked to everyone. He took time to know who everyone was. When I came back to Dansville to be a music teacher he welcomed me back. He told me to stop by his Post Master office anytime to talk. I would come by several times a week to talk with him. The door was always open, and that was who Paul was. We would talk music, sports, and our passion for Dansville. When I took charge of the Dogwood Festival in its second year Paul sat down with me, and he gave me all of the contacts and organizations. We did it together and went door to door talking to people. We have this festival 52 years later because of Paul. When men were walking on the moon he invited us over to watch it on the TV with him,” he said.
“When we would go buy trophies for the Dogwood Parade we would stop and have lunch together. All the successful businessman knew Paul. Paul would make sure they all knew something about you. That was Paul. His wife, Mary was killed by terrorists in an airport in Rome on her way back from Saudi Arabia after visiting their son. It was the only time I saw that many people at the St. Mary Church. Paul was concerned for days that he couldn’t thank every single one of them for coming. That was Paul,” Haywood said.
“Dad’s life was all about Dansville. He was born in Naples and my mom was born in Wellsville. We always remembered Texas Hots since the early 50s. My dad was a banker in Dansville. When he was told he might have to move to Fairport it was Tim Shay who gave my dad a job. He was so grateful he didn’t have to leave Dansville. Dad has eight grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren all over the world as far as Australia,” Tom Wamp said. “I am the lucky one since I never left Dansville. No matter how many times people leave this town they all can’t wait to come back to Dansville. My dad’s legacy stays with the family. I see a lot of him in my children and grandchildren.”
Dennis Leyden is a long-time friend of Mike Welch who had the honor of introducing him.
“Mike has lived in Ithaca for many years and became a football powerhouse, but he never forgot his hometown roots. At his freshman year in Ithaca he named Dansville the center of the universe. I have known Mike for 61 years and he has all the qualities needed for this award all his life. He went from being a Clay Street resident to sitting at a state football event talking about Dansville. That was a proud night for all of us. He wanted to improve his players but give them the lessons they needed in life too. He told them to win with grace and lose with dignity. He has always been a person of high character.”
Mike Welch talked about how his foundations in Dansville brought him to his dreams in football championships across the nation.
“My family has been with me every step of the way. When I was presented an award for the American College Football Association, they told everyone who is here for Mike Welch stand up. I had about 30 people stand up, and 1,000 people clapped for them. That is Dansville. That is the center of the universe. In 1988 I set two goals, win the National Championships, and be head coach of a college football team. I was Assistant Coach of Ithaca College Football at the time. We became national champions that year. It took 12 years for me to get there, and I couldn’t believe it. I was head coach of Ithaca College Football six years later. You need to set high goals for yourself and work on achieving them. The reward once you get there in front of hundreds of people is an incredible feeling,” he said. “My journey started in Dansville. It helped to set my foundation. It helped me to reach my goals. It gave me the courage to think big. When people ask me where I am from. I say with pride that I am from Dansville … the center of the universe.”