January 3, 2009
People leave their mark on Cortland in ’08
Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Noah Beck, foreground, paddles ahead of Ben Kulikowsky in the Tioughnioga River near Blodgett Mills in May on their way to the Chesapeake Bay. The pair completed the 380-mile trip in 10 days.
Whether it was an exciting adventure or a sorrowful loss, many personalities left their imprints on the community in 2008.
Cortland residents and childhood friends Ben Kulikowsky, 24, and Noah Beck, 26, took a 380-mile kayak trip in May, beginning at the Tioughnioga River in Yaman Park and ending at the Chesapeake Bay.
Beck and Kulikowsky were faced with inclement weather and sickness along the way, but the two prevailed and finished the trek 10 days after they started.
The pair shoved off May 19, a rainy day that soon turned to hail and thunderstorms for the first three days of their voyage.
Beck and Kulikowsky each have experience with environmental work and conservation and they made the best of the trip, noting wildlife and flora that was new to them and taking the proper precautions when they fell ill for a day, resting instead of continuing on.
The friends kayaked about 40 miles a day and passed a series of dams as they approached their final leg near the Chesapeake. They described the final part of the trip as being full of energy and life as the tide picked up, the wildlife changed and the Chesapeake Bay opened up before them. The pair celebrated the trip’s completion with family at the end, saying the final leg of the journey was quiet and reflective after their rigorous days on the water.
The community losses this year include a popular city politician, a well-loved parish priest and an active McGraw politician.
Jim Partigianoni, a city alderman and well-known baseball umpire, died from a heart attack in March at the age of 78.
Partigianoni, commonly known as “Parge,” died while moving snow during a visit to one of his five daughters in Michigan.
After being born and raised in Cortland, Parge served in the U.S. Army as a tank gunner and tank commander from 1948 to 1954, stationed along the border with the Soviet Union.
Parge then returned to Cortland and worked at Smith Corona as a fabrication supervisor until his retirement in 1994.
He represented the 7th Ward as a city alderman for six years and was influential in starting the East End Community Center.
Parge is survived by his wife, Carol, his five daughters — Pam, Kathy, Jamie, Colleen and Kelly — and his 12 grandchildren.
Monsignor Michael Minehan, who impacted so many lives as the priest for St. Mary’s Church in Cortland, died just before Thanksgiving after a brief illness. He was 55 and had held high positions with the Syracuse Diocese, but beyond that, Minehan had impressed parish leaders with his humorous and modest style.
Ted Doty was a baseball front office official, a sergeant in the Air Force, an advocate for fellow war veterans and a prominent figure in McGraw politics for many years. He died Nov. 22 at the age of 88 at Cortland Regional Medical Center.
After working as a general manager for minor league baseball teams, Doty moved back to his hometown of McGraw, where he became the veterans service officer in Cortland County for 25 years, retiring in 1993. In the veterans services position he helped war veterans to obtain services such as health benefits, educational opportunities and pensions.
Doty also organized the memorial ceremony during the Memorial Day Parade in McGraw each year and served as a trustee on the McGraw Village Board for 12 years.
The Marathon area community came together to support Charlene Hill, a very popular nurse and community volunteer in Marathon who community members said was fired by the Family Health Network of Central New York this year. She had worked in the Marathon Health Center for more than 30 years.
The Family Health Network would not give a reason why Hill lost her job, and hundreds of angry town residents signed petitions to support Hill, who is a former Zonta Woman of the year.
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