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My Turn

May 18, 2009

My Turn: People make Oneonta great

This week's "My turn" column is by Geoff Smith, president of Medical Coaches.

My Australian-born dad, Ian Smith, brought our family of six (wife Dorothy; daughters Pat, Sandi and Nancy; and son Geoff _ Brian was later born at Fox Hospital) to Oneonta in the early 1950s.

He thought Oneonta was the perfect place to fulfill his dream of providing doctors' offices on wheels. His first order came in 1949 from Cuba and was built in Oneonta.

After graduating from Lehigh University in 1969 and spending three years with Roadway Express, I followed my own dream of working for my dad at Medical Coaches in 1972.

I married Linda Lehmann, a former Eastern Airlines stewardess, in 1972; our son, Chad, now works with me at Medical Coaches and further strengthened our Oneonta ties by marrying Corinne Bresee, daughter of Marc and Elaine.

Having spent the bulk of my life in Oneonta, I have a deep appreciation for Oneonta's real secret: people. Our citizens are our strength.

The following is my list (not meant to be exhaustive and could run 10 pages) of people I met who made and still make Oneonta a great place in which to live:

Jessie Dewar and Bea Blanding: I only met these ladies a few times, but their unselfish legacy of philanthropy lives on in the Jessie Dewar Foundation and the Blanding Foundation. Oneonta would not be the same without their generosity.

Clyde Wright: Clyde was my Rotary sponsor. You would never know he was wealthy. His philanthropy and generosity while he was living (YMCA, Fox Hospital, Hartwick College, City of Oneonta, National Soccer Hall of Fame, etc.) was substantial. He left his son, Brian, with the same spirit, who carries on Dad's wishes.

Wilmer Bresee: Wilmer was a stalwart of Rotary and the Masons. His dedication to the Bresee family and store gave Oneontans memories they will never forget. His wife and partner, Esther, is still alive at the age of 99.

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