SUNY Canton Remembers Distinguished Alumnus John L. Halford, Sr. (1925-2016)

“I hope students enjoy their time at the college and use their experience to shape their lives.”

One of SUNY Canton’s most dedicated patrons has passed away.

John L. Halford, Sr., of Gouverneur, died December 7, 2016, at Maplewood Nursing Home in Canton. He was 91. A memorial service will be held in the spring.

The Halfords stand in front of the Roos House ice arena.

“John Halford did a tremendous amount of good in this world,” said SUNY Canton President Zvi Szafran. “He served America in World War II, and served the communities that he lived in when he returned. He always wanted to help others, through his church, his town, and through funding scholarships and supporting his college. He will be sorely missed.”

Mr. Halford was born Jan. 24, 1925 in Gouverneur. He joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1942 and served in the South Pacific attached to the 3rd Marine Raider Battalion and the 3rd Marine Division. He received an honorary discharge in 1946 and returned to graduate from Gouverneur High School in 1947.

John Halford and President Zvi Szafran

SUNY Canton Distinguished Alumnus John L. Halford stands with President Zvi Szafran after the patron made a large donation in honor of the new president.

He then went on to graduate from the Agricultural and Technical College at Canton in 1949 with a degree in Air Conditioning Engineering Technology. Mr. Halford also took courses at St. Lawrence University, Hofstra University and Suffolk Community College.

Mr. Halford worked for the Gouverneur Hospital from 1951 to 1953. He was employed at Brookhaven National Laboratory from 1953 to 1970 as a technical specialist whose primary responsibilities were in the development of liquid containment materials for nuclear reactors. He then worked as maintenance supervisor for Suffolk County in the Buildings and Grounds Department from 1972 until his retirement in 1988.

The Halfords


A lifetime of commitment to SUNY Canton

The Halfords stand in the Halford LobbyMr. Halford was a dedicated believer in helping students to achieve their potential. In 1989 he established an endowed scholarship at SUNY Canton that is given annually to five students who are in need of financial assistance. In 1999, Mr. Halford established a memorial scholarship to honor the wartime service of the six Halford brothers – all of whom served in World War II. This scholarship is awarded to two Gouverneur High School seniors who are planning to attend one of the four-year programs at SUNY Canton.

In a 2005 article for the After Canton alumni magazine, Mr. Halford said, “College is all about opportunities in life. A lot of young people don’t see a future, but I hope that with these scholarships I can help them see all of the possibilities that lie ahead for them.”

Mr. Halford had the distinct honor of being the alum with the most locations named for him on SUNY Canton’s campus. The college dedicated the John L. Halford, Sr. Lobby in 2005, Halford Suite in the Roos House in 2011, Halford Classroom in 2012, a Veterans Tree in 2014 and Halford Hall, which houses the CREST Center, in 2014. Mr. Halford also served on the Canton College Foundation Board of Directors since 2004.

John L. Halford Sr., his wife, Nelta, SUNY Canton Acting President Joseph C. Hoffman and Dean Michael J. Newtown

Pictured are (l to r) SUNY Canton alumnus John L. Halford Sr., his wife, Nelta, SUNY Canton Acting President Joseph C. Hoffman and Michael J. Newtown, dean of the Canino School of Engineering Technology.

He received the college’s prestigious Distinguished Alumnus award at SUNY Canton’s 2010 Commencement Ceremony, was inducted into the college-wide Hall of Fame in 2011 and was inducted into the New York State Veterans Hall of Fame by State Senator Patty Ritchie in 2014.

Most recently, Mr. Halford gave a generous donation in honor of Dr. Szafran’s installment at SUNY Canton. The president’s father, Daniel Szafran, and the late patron became fast friends after their initial introduction.

Donations in Mr. Halford’s memory can be made to the Canton College Foundation.