Russell A. Guthrie, a lifelong resident of the City of Buffalo, honorably served in the United States Army during World War II. As a Sergeant First Class and Tank Gunner, Mr. Guthrie was assigned to the legendary 761st Tank Battalion, the first armored unit of African American soldiers to see combat in World War II. Known as the “Black Panthers,” the unit’s extraordinary bravery and heroism was recognized by General George S. Patton and became known additionally as “Patton’s Panthers.” As a member of the 761st, Mr. Guthrie participated in four major Allied campaigns, including the Battle of the Bulge and D-Day.
Sister Mary Celeste O’Bryan is a Sister of Mercy who has been ministering to God’s people for 65 years. Thousands have been touched by her care, concern and compassionate spirit.
Growing up in Louisville, Kentucky, and Jamestown, New York, along with her parents, Paul and Mary Bernadette O’Bryan and eleven siblings, Sister Mary Celeste learned responsibility and the give-and-take of being a member of a large family. With daily attendance at Mass and family evening prayer as part of the family routine, each one’s spiritual life was also nourished.
Staff Sergeant J. Donald Griffin served his country during World War II as a ball turret gunner with the United States Air Force. During his tour, Mr. Griffin’s aircraft was shot down by enemy fire; he parachuted to the ground and spent one and a half years as a prisoner of war.
For his extraordinary sacrifice and service to the United States, Mr. Griffin was awarded an Air Medal, Prisoner of War Medal and the Victory Medal.
Debra Liegl has been President and CEO of the Cheektowaga Chamber of Commerce for the past 13 years, where she has maintained a steadfast dedication to supporting the Cheektowaga business community. Her efforts have culminated in the bi-annual Cheektowaga Jobs Fair, which connects hundreds of job-seekers with good careers, a legislative roundtable focused on small business issues, numerous education seminars, networking events and a Women in Business event.
Staff Sergeants Katherine Robinson and Indiana Hunt served their country in the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion. It was the only all-African American, all-female unit to serve overseas. A Women’s Army Corps unit, the 6888th kept mail fl owing to nearly seven million soldiers in the European Theater of Operations. To complete the task before them, their unit worked 24 hours. Their work was described as exemplary.Staff Sergeant Robinson enlisted in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps. She completed her basic training at Fort Des Moines, Iowa. Upon completion of her overseas training, she joined the 6888th Central Post Battalion commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Charity Adams, the fi rst black woman commissioned as an offi cer in the United States Women’s Army Corps.
When Jackie Schmid passed away on July 23, 2012 at the age of 51, the Cheektowaga community lost one of its most unselfish servant leaders. A passionate and enthusiastic volunteer, she was loved by her neighbors, friends and Western New York’s elected and civic leaders.
Ms. Schmid graduated from Villa Maria Academy in 1979 and worked in her family’s restaurant located on Broadway in the City of Buffalo for much of her young adulthood. At an early age, she came to understand the importance of civic engagement. She became driven to improve her community -- and she never turned back.
Debbera M. Ransom served our country as a Military Policewoman in the United States Army stateside and overseas. Born and raised in Buffalo, Ms. Ransom is a community activist, mother, grandmother and a former foster mother. She was the first female in her family to join the military, following in the footsteps of her father, a World War II Army Veteran, and her brother, an Air Force veteran who served in Vietnam. Debbera was among the first Military Policewomen to be stationed within the infantry division.
LaVonne E. Ansari, Ph.D. is an experienced educator, administrator, recreation therapist and manager with more than 25 years of combined experience. She has a diverse background working in the areas of equal employment opportunity and affirmative action compliance, workforce development, higher education and community-based health care and hospital administration. Throughout her career, Dr. Ansari has been steadfast in her commitment to serve communities that have historically been underserved. She has worked diligently to ensure that all Western New Yorkers have equal access to high quality education, career opportunities and health care services.
Sandra Jablonski Bourque was born in Buffalo, New York. She graduated from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 2003 with a Bachelor's Degree in Sociology. After working in the mental health field, Sandra enlisted in the Army in August of 2006, and went to Fort Jackson, South Carolina for Basic Training.
Mary F. Holtz became the first female Town Supervisor in the long and storied history of the Town of Cheektowaga in 2008.
Ms. Holtz, champion for the revitalization of aging towns and cities, is committed to keeping Cheektowaga’s neighborhoods strong. A founding member of the Erie County Distressed Properties Task Force, Ms. Holtz was invited to attend a distressed property technical assistance seminar at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. To stress the urgency of reviving the Western New York economy, she provided testimony at a field hearing of the Revitalizing Older Cities Congressional Task Force.
I would like to thank Elmwood Village Charter School and their students for participating in our Earth Day Poster Competition. In keeping with the theme of our Earth Day Celebration of “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” We will celebrate and honor Earth Day this year by displaying your work on my website. Also, each participant will receive a certificate acknowledging their participation in the competition. Thank you and don’t forget to “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!”
I would like to thank Aloma D. Johnson Fruitbelt Charter School and their students for participating in our Earth Day Poster Competition. In keeping with the theme of our Earth Day Celebration of “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” We will celebrate and honor Earth Day this year by displaying your work on my website. Also, each participant will receive a certificate acknowledging their participation in the competition. Thank you and don’t forget to “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!”