Meet the HF-L Alumni Hall of Fame inductees

Five new members will be inducted into the Honeoye Falls-Lima High School Alumni Hall of Fame during Falls Weekend ceremonies on Saturday, October 5. The inductees are:

Dr. DANIEL CLAY
Dr. Daniel Clay, class of 1970, is a world traveler, agricultural scholar, charismatic leader, and an exemplary role model who has worked hard to make a positive impact on the lives of others. Clay is a retired professor who has dedicated his life to assisting communities all over the world to become sustainable. A former doctoral student of Clay described him as a man with “an undying desire to help improve the wellbeing and livelihoods” of people in poor rural communities.

After graduating from Hartwick College, Clay went on to earn his Master’s and Doctorate Degrees in Sociology at Michigan State University. While at MSU, Clay conducted doctoral research in France as a Fulbright Scholar. His first job was working for the international division of the United States Census Bureau, which eventually brought him to a small landlocked country in East Africa.

During his time in Rwanda, Clay used his expertise in economic forecasting, sustainability, and agriculture to collaborate on a project with local farmers. He was deeply committed to improving the quality of life for the people of Rwanda and has since traveled back to revitalize and upgrade the coffee sector of their economy. When describing Clay’s work, a colleague spoke of his humility and genuine pride in the achievements of others.

Clay’s dedication to the economic success of the coffee farmers in Rwanda soon began to spread. His impact reached neighboring countries in Africa where he has coordinated with government agencies to support local farmers and coffee markets. A professor at the University of Rwanda compares Clay’s life to “scientific gold that we still have more to extract for current and future generations.”

Throughout his time as a professor at the University of Michigan, Clay has touched the lives of many people. Andrew Gerard, a Ph.D. candidate who was mentored by Clay, speaks of his generosity, dedication, and joy for a good challenge. He has been deeply impacted by Clay’s “cheerful, enthusiastic attitude when taking on difficult problems” and “kindness, commitment, and enthusiasm for making a difference.”

Clay is also a devoted husband and father to three successful children who have all followed their dad’s humanitarian efforts around the world. Suzanne, Clay’s wife, shared that their children have all been motivated by their father’s love for his life’s work. He is a lifelong mentor to them and is always willing to provide his time and energy to support them.

In recognizing Clay, the HF-L Hall of Fame Committee celebrates his humility, kindness, and devotion. His outstanding contributions to the lives of people across the globe serve as a model for humanitarianism. Whether he is acting as a mentor, colleague, parent, or professor, Clay’s patience, charisma, and genuine care for all make him a true role model to be admired.

THOMAS CREGO, Jr.
Thomas Crego, Jr., class of 1983, is a military veteran, lifelong athlete, dedicated business leader, loyal community volunteer, and exceptional role model to his children. His life has been one of integrity, leadership, determination, and hard work.

As an HF-L student, Crego participated in many athletic and extracurricular activities. He played varsity soccer and baseball and volunteered at church, the local food pantry, and coaching/umpiring for youth sports. Alongside a close friend and neighbor, Crego discovered his passion for weightlifting. To this day, he is an active powerlifter, competing on a global scale and even achieving two drug-free world championships. His dedication to powerlifting goes beyond the athletic component volunteering for Special Olympics Meets in the Delaware Valley. He currently holds Multiple National and State records in the “Masters Division” for 3 different federations.

After high school, Crego earned an Associate’s Degree in Physical Studies at Monroe Community College and a Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Education at SUNY Cortland. Then, he enlisted in the United States Army and was assigned to the Military Police Corps. He spent time stationed in Italy, Germany, Bosnia and the United States, holding positions of Squad Leader, Operations Sergeant, Small Group Leader, and Training Developer for the US Army Enlisted Leadership Development Program. While serving in the service, Crego attended night school and completed a Master’s Degree in Public Administration and Business from Jacksonville State University.

In 1999, Crego returned to Honeoye Falls to begin working at Southco, Inc. He is described as a “fair and transparent Leader” by Scott Hammond, Senior Manager of Human Resources and Development at Southco. His wife, Jackie, shared that he “gives everyone a chance to become who they want to be and shows them how to do this through hard work, empathy, and sticking by your principles. He leads by example and is dedicated to the success of his team. Crego recently left his position as Operations Manager at the Honeoye Falls facility to become the Operations Director for all Southco North and South American operations. He and his wife relocated to Pennsylvania so that he can serve in this role.

Giving back to his community has been central to Crego’s life since his days coaching youth sports in HF-L community. He had dedicated his time and talents to organizations like Center for Youth Services, Ronald McDonald House, Arc of Monroe County, and Dimitri House preparing meals and delivering food to homeless teens, serving meals at a shelter, and assisting at charity events.

Crego’s family is his main priority. His combination of structure, positivity, accountability, and love have made him a true role model for his son and stepchildren. He recently became a grandfather and enjoys every moment of this new journey.
Whether he is volunteering at a local charity event, leading manufacturing operations, competing in a lifting competition, or spending quality time with family, Crego brings wisdom, humor, and a strong work ethic to all of his relationships. His induction into the HF-L Alumni Hall of Fame will allow him to serve as a positive role model to current and future students who share his dedication and commitment to hard work and a life of integrity.

CATHERINE BLODGETT GAFFNEY
Catherine Blodgett Gaffney, HF-L Class of 1985, is a life-long learner who values her education and experiences. Gaffney’s journey began on her family’s dairy farm where her responsibility was tending the herd’s registered Holstein calves.  At age 10, her 4-H group won regionals and competed in the State Finals of the Dairy Bowl; she showed Holsteins at the national level; at age 14 she became the youngest person ever named master dairy showman at the NYS Fair; and at age 16 she was crowned Livingston County’s Dairy Princess with an obligation to visit every elementary school in the County and be present at supermarkets offering cheese samples to shoppers.

As a freshman in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) at Cornell, Gaffney won the dairy division of the annual student livestock show and took a position in the Office of International Agriculture working with people from all over the world with the common goal of how to feed people in their country. Gaffney was a teaching assistant for Professor German who suggested Wegmans would be a great fit for her skills and interests. She is a recipient of the CALS Outstanding Alumni Award and credits Cornell for learning, encouraging, supporting and providing unique experiences that parallel with the expectations for students at HF-L.

Gaffney currently reigns as Vice President of Specialty Cheese, Deli and Cheese Caves at Wegmans as well as serving as the President of the American Cheese Society.  In her ascent at Wegmans, Gaffney’s responsibilities and initiatives included: ten progressive management positions, training, leading research trips, chain-wide coffee shop roll-out, work with prepared foods developing new concepts company-wide, created Cheese University and Wegmans affinage (cheese aging) facility, the only one in a U.S. supermarket chain, helped launch “Made in New York” cheese program to support small-scale cheesemakers, and the debut of “From Family Farms Near Our Stores”- regional sourcing of artisan cheeses.

Gaffney is recognized as a leader in the agri-business industry. Her work is highly respected and her knowledge is equally valued in academic halls, on farms, and in the fields. Academic peers solicit her presence at student forums, professional training venues, university programs, and express her story in professional publications. She remembers her roots, especially with 4-H, and shares her story with her home community through print media and speaking engagements. Gaffney’s lifetime of leadership and volunteerism is valued and has been recognized with numerous awards and position advancements.

Letters of support for Gaffney carried the same theme. From Wegmans, “Gaffney is a role model for our company and is often used as an example of how to keep challenging yourself, having the courage to tackle new assignments and learning to adapt away from your comfort zone. Her ability to motivate others and keep programs moving forward has led to world-class excellence in all she has managed.” From the American Cheese Society, “Gaffney stands as an example of how a business can promote quality products while also positively impacting local communities and modeling best practices. She advocates for small, American producers, and has given them a platform to showcase their important work. Gaffney strives to give people the tools they need to do what they love. She exemplifies ACS’s core values of Engagement, Education, and Sustainability”
As is the case for many, personal and professional success stories begin and sustain with continuous family support. Gaffney and her husband John live in Henrietta and are proud parents to their daughter Mary. Gaffney’s passion is nurtured and empowered by a cohesive extended family and the work-family unit, her “fantastic support system.”

The overlap of Gaffney’s story with HF-L’s expressed Mission, Vision, and Strategic Intents is undeniable. Gaffney exemplifies the District’s definition of education for its students.

LUCIEN CASARTELLI
Hall of Fame inductees aren’t always the students that love book learning. Lucien Casartelli, who graduated from HF-L in 1986 and today is an internationally known woodworker and sculptor, first took inspiration in shop class while in high school. His love of woodworking, creating, and new design led him on a trail of continual education and world-wide acclaim.

When speaking of his stepson, Ed Raynor praises Casartelli as someone that never gives up. “Casartelli is an inspiration to those needing affirmation that education is good, that struggling with setbacks or disabilities do not need to be fatal and incorporating a fine work ethic can enhance anyone’s quality of life.” For those reasons and many more, Casartelli is being inducted into the HF-L Alumni Hall of Fame.

Casartelli began his amazing career in high school under the direction of HF-L’s beloved shop teacher, Mr. William “Bill” Brown. With Mr. Brown’s guidance, Casartelli honed his craft and gained admission to RIT’s School for the American Craftsman where he received his Bachelor’s in Fine Arts Degree with a major in Woodworking and Furniture Design and a minor in Psychology.

Following college, Casartelli was hired by Wendell Castle, an internally known leader of the art furniture movement. He worked there for ten years.

Casartelli’s next step was to found Bella Designs, an enterprise that employed 20 craftsmen and women who built high-end, custom furniture and sculpture sold all over the world. During this period, he worked with other artists in developing their 2D art into 3D art that got produced in limited editions and sold worldwide. Casartelli also worked to become proficient in Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) technology. A lifelong learner, he persevered, and through trial and error, used technology to improve his skills and capabilities.

In 2013, Casartelli began working as a sculptor. His work caught the attention of Rochester gallery owner, Nan Miller. “Most people who deal with wood don’t have the knowledge that he has learned in painting and with metal. He’s purchased equipment for some of his projects that most woodworkers don’t have or even know about. He’s projected himself into a whole different level from what most woodworkers and furniture makers do.”

Casartelli designed and completed a metal sculpture “Memorial of the NYC World Trade Center Twin Towers” dedicated and housed in Rochester, NY. It honors the lost souls in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack that took nearly 3,000 lives. The sculpture includes a beautiful American Flag that he created out of resign and paint materials.

“Casartelli is a good candidate (for the Hall of Fame) based on the life he has led, his love of his work, friends, family, and dog. His efforts made in his education, apprenticeships, and his business accomplishments and, now teaching others,” are things that make the world better,” said friend, Kim Salley.

“Casartelli has always enjoyed challenging himself in creating something interesting and something difficult. That’s what keeps him going! He likes learning how to figure things out and never says, ‘I can’t do that’ or ‘I don’t how to do that,’” said his Dad, Peter Casartelli. “For Lou, it is ‘I’ll learn to do that.’ There’s always a way to do something and that’s just his positive approach in everything he does. His work ethic has always been to achieve and go beyond expectations in every project. I feel that he is a wonderful role model for other students aspiring to achieve their dreams.”

In recognizing Casartelli, we celebrate creativity, discipline, and dreams. Whether taken from a book or learned from chisel and wood, all things are possible, especially, if you think like him.

JULIE NESS
In speaking about Julie Ness, several folks said lovely things about this 1987 HF-L graduate. “She’s an incredibly gifted teacher,” a “role model throughout her life, a strong light for all who know her,” and “consummate artist.”

In high school, Ness competed in soccer and track and participated in the musicals under the direction of Dave Borden. Her voice teacher, Chris Sargent noticed her talent and sent her for more advanced work at the Eastman School of Music. From there, she went on to attend Oberlin Conservatory of Music and received a performance degree as a lyric soprano.

While at Oberlin, Ness met her husband and soul mate, Martin Philip. After graduation, they both sang at the San Jose Opera for a few years before returning East, first to Manhattan and then Vermont.

Her professional appearances include her soprano debut with the San Jose Opera, Carnegie Hall debut as the featured soprano soloist in Handel’s “Messiah” and John Rutter’s “Requiem”, and performed recitals with Trinity Church and the New York Festival of Song. Ness has performed leading roles in operas by Rossini, Mozart, Handel, Strauss, and Donizetti. She has worked with Opera San Jose, Festival Opera, Lake George Opera Festival, and the Chicago Humanities Festival, and has sung with the American Bach Soloists and the San Francisco City Choir and Orchestra. She has collaborated with such prominent conductors as Daniel Beckwith, Paul Nadler, Jeffrey Thomas, and Michael Barrett. Ness has recorded on the Deluxe label.

Ness recently performed with bassist David Wysocki and guitarist Tristan Bellerive. They performed ten songs from Joni Mitchell’s legendary album, “Blue.” Not only did she sing all ten songs and play the piano on four, but, Ness also bought and learned to play an Appalachian dulcimer for “All I Want, Carey and California.”

At home in Vermont, Ness has a studio in which she teaches voice to around 50 students, frequently coaching them in musicals and for auditions. She is regarded as the “Go-To” teacher and coach according to the dramatic director of the Northern Stage Theater. She supports the Upper Valley Music Center, is a teacher at the Waldorf School of Quechee, Vt., and has given lessons to worship leaders at CAMP, an accredited music school in Mexico.

Former Oberlin classmate, Adrienne Mckeown expounds on Ness’s teaching as “skilled and versatile.” Of Ness, McKeown states, “She is brilliant at meeting each student where they are, both emotionally and musically. Her students each sound uniquely like themselves, which is a reflection of Ness’s empathy and flexibility as a person and a musician.”

“She teaches kids how to use music and words, not just to entertain, but also to express their innermost souls,” said Eric Love, Director of Education for Northern Stage in White River Junction, VT.

Ness and her husband, baker and author Martin Philip, live with their three children in Vermont.

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