Weekly Feature



2007-10-24 / Education

Thirteen distinguished alumni chosen for Williamsville Wall of Fame

The Williamsville Central School District will honor 13 distinguished graduates who have gone on to successful careers in academia, medicine, business, entertainment, music, broadcasting and public service.

The 2007 Wall of Fame Induction includes alumni from the district's three high schools. They will be honored at a breakfast celebration sponsored by the Williamsville Education Foundation Inc. on Friday, Nov. 9 at Westwood Country Club, 772 North Forest Road. Afterward, the newly inducted Wall of Fame alumni will return to their respective alma maters, where they will attend special assemblies and speak with students.

"These outstanding alumni are an inspiration to all of our students and a great source of pride for our community," said Superintendent Howard S. Smith. "Our schools helped prepare them for their life's journey, and through hard work, education and a strong desire, they have achieved great success and have made a significant impact on the lives of others."

The 2007 Wall of Fame honorees are:

Williamsville East

High School

  • Samuel J. Savarino (class of 1976), president and chief executive officer of Savarino Companies, one of Western New York's leading general contracting, construction management and development firms. Savarino is active in many civic and nonprofit organizations, serving as a director, trustee or officer on eight different community boards. He and his wife, Anne, served as co-chairs of the United Way of Buffalo and Erie County campaigns in both 2005 and 2006.
  • Cathleen A. Schmidt (class of 1977), president and CEO of Citizens Bank in New Hampshire, the state's largest bank. Schmidt is an active community leader and volunteer, serving on the boards of the Heritage United Way in Manchester, N.H.; the Manchester Chamber of Commerce; and the New Hampshire Business and Industry Association.
  • Paula Vertino (class of 1980), tenured associate professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Ga., and co-director of the Cancer Genetics and Genome Instability Program at Emory's Winship Cancer Institute. Vertino is a nationally known breast cancer researcher who has been recognized for her pioneering work on gene silencing in human cancer.
  • Eric Jordan Young (class of 1989), Broadway and television star. Eric has starred in numerous Broadway productions, including "Chicago," "Ragtime," "Seussical the Musical," and "The Look of Love." He won a Helen Hayes Award for his performance in a touring production of "Side Show." Young co-wrote, produced and has starred in the acclaimed one-man musical, "Sammy and Me," based on the legendary Sammy Davis Jr.
  • Williamsville North

    High School

  • Michael Barz (Class of 1988), Fox Television anchor, Chicago Ill., where he is the host of "Good Day Chicago" on WFLD-TV. Barz's broadcast career includes two years on ABC's "Good Morning America" as a features correspondent and weather anchor and an Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement for a Sports Program, earned while he was a sports anchor at WGN-TV in Chicago.
  • Gary Malvern (class of 1976), professor of Trumpet and Music History at Furman University, S.C., and principal trumpet of the Greenville Symphony. Malvern has performed as the principal trumpet for such prestigious ensembles as the National Repertory Orchestra and the American Wind Symphony. While he has traveled the world as a musician, his equal passion is teaching. He has received Furman's Meritorious Teaching Award and was cited as a Distinguished Professor by the state of South Carolina.
  • Ronald Markezich (class of 1985), vice president of Business Online Services, Microsoft Corporation. Markezich has been a senior executive at the Microsoft Corporation since 1998, serving as chief information officer prior to his current position. As an executive at the world's pinnacle of technology, Markezich is a highly sought-after speaker on topics related to his extensive experience in the information technology industry.
  • Mitchel Spoth (class of 1982, deceased), volunteer firefighter killed in the line of duty. An exceptional athlete, Mr. Spoth was named the Spartan Super Star during his senior year of high school. He was a member of the Transit Volunteer Fire Company (now the East Amherst Fire Department) and gave his life in service to his community, succumbing to injuries sustained while battling an arson fire in Nov. 1984.
  • Williamsville South

    High School

  • David Handel (class of 1982), director, Bolivia National Symphony and the music director, Orquesta Sinfónica UN Cuyo in Mendoza, Argentina. Maestro Handel is one of the most respected and innovative conductors in Latin America and has toured the world as a guest conductor. Since 1996, he has served as a Cultural Ambassador for the United States through the State Department's Cultural Specialist Program.
  • Marsha Spence Henderson (class of 1966), vice president, External Affairs, University at Buffalo. Henderson is the former district president of KeyBank Western New York and is widely recognized as a leading member of the Buffalo business community. She was the first woman chair of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership and is a member of the WNY Women's Hall of Fame.
  • Peter Lansbury Jr. (class of 1976), professor of neurology, Harvard Medical School; founder and director of the National Institutes of Health Morris K. Udall Parkinson's Disease Research Center of Excellence at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston; and chairman and chief scientific officer of Link Medicine, a biotechnology company he founded to help translate his research into new drugs for Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and Lou Gehrig's disease.
  • Jan Davis Marshall (class of 1966), genetic research scientist and director of Alström Syndrome Studies at The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine; co-founder and chair of the Scientific Advisory Board of Alström Syndrome International, a nonprofit organization dedicated to research, education and family support of this very rare and fatal genetic disorder that affects children around the world.
  • Dr. Sandra J. Schorr (class of 1966), pediatric hospitalist, Park Ridge Hospital, Hendersonville, N.C. Schorr is the former chair of Pediatrics at St. Luke's Health Center Hospital in St. Louis, Mo., and was the first woman president of a hospital medical staff in the state of Colorado.
  • Tickets for the Induction Breakfast are $25. Sponsorship opportunities are available at $1,000 (Platinum), $500 (Gold), $250 (Silver) and $100 (Bronze) levels. Proceeds from the breakfast event will go to support the District Planetarium and to help fund the Foundation's teacher mini grant program. For ticket information or to make a reservation, call the Amherst Chamber of Commerce at 632-6905.

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