A World War II Veteran who stepped forward as the first donor for SUNY Canton’s new athletic and convocation facility is slated to receive the 2010 Distinguished Alumnus award.
John L. Halford (class of 1949) will receive the prestigious honor at the 102nd Commencement Ceremony, to be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, May 22, in an outdoor ceremony adjacent to the Richard W. Miller Campus Center.
“John has been an extraordinary supporter of SUNY Canton and his hometown of Gouverneur,” said SUNY Canton President Joseph L. Kennedy. “His commitment and dedication to our country and this College makes us proud in so many ways. His support and generosity toward his alma mater have been remarkable. We are proud to honor him with this award as a small token of our appreciation for his wonderful and productive involvement with us and his lifetime of exceptional achievements.”
Halford and his wife Nelta recently made a donation in support of the Convocation, Athletic, and Recreation Center, which has been nicknamed Roos House. His donation secured the naming rights to an elevated seating and viewing area overlooking the new rink. Through their pledge, the exclusive area will be forever named the “Halford Alumni Suite.”
The Roos House seating area will be the second location on campus honored with the Halford name. In 2005, they pledged further support to the College Foundation, which led to the creation of the Halford Lobby on the entry level of the Faculty Office Building. They have also created an equipment endowment for the air conditioning technology programs and sponsor nine students annually through two scholarships.
“John has been a devoted SUNY Canton Alumnus for decades,” said Marti King MacArthur of the class of 1974 and 1978 and the 2007 recipient of the Distinguished Alumna award. “He has diligently supported and encouraged students and is committed to the value of a SUNY Canton education. He’s also an active community member.”
Through his endowments, Halford strives to help students realize their dreams and create chances where none previously existed. “College is all about opportunities in life,” he said. “I hope that through my scholarships I can help students see all the possibilities that lay ahead.”
At the age of 17, Halford entered the U.S. Marine Corps and served his country during World War II. After being honorably discharged, he returned to Gouverneur, finished high school, and went on to SUNY Canton (then called the Agricultural and Technical Institute) to study air conditioning technology. He then moved to Long Island and worked for Brookhaven National Laboratory as a technology specialist. He later became Suffolk County maintenance supervisor of buildings and grounds.
“John is one of the most impressive individuals I have ever met,” said Vice President for Advancement David M. Gerlach. “He fought for our country in World War II. He achieved tremendous success in his professional life. And throughout his entire life and even now, he is a complete gentleman who assists others whenever possible, particularly the young people of Gouverneur and Northern New York.”
He is a lifetime member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Gouverneur and a Mason of more than 50 years. He is a supporter of the E.J. Noble Hospital, Hermon-DeKalb Senior Citizens Center, and the Gouverneur Senior Citizens Center. He also volunteers for the Richville Library.