Three Oneontans were recognized at the Greater Oneonta Historical Society's awards reception Wednesday at the History Center on Main Street.

Corinne Smith and Deb Bruce both received the Hofbauer Outstanding Service award for exceptional volunteer service. The award is named after the late Eduard Hofbauer, who served on the GOHS Board of Trustees.

Smith is the president of the Greater Oneonta Historical Society and has served on the board for seven years, according to Robert Brzozowski, the society's executive director. Wednesday was her last day in the role and she will continue to serve on the board for another year, he said.

Smith said she remembers Hofbauer's generous spirit, and she was honored to receive an award in his name. Smith said a particularly fond childhood memory in Oneonta was growing around Bresee's Oneonta Department Store, the family-owned and operated store that opened on Main Street in 1899 and closed in 1994.

“It was a wonderful way to grow up, a great community, so preserving the history of that place that was my home away from home was really important to me,” Smith said. “That was my inspiration for being on the board and the people I've met, the relationships I've built and the things I've learned about Oneonta and its community members has been such a wonderful experience for me.”

Bruce has been active in the society for almost fifteen years, Brzozowski said. She served as both an officer and a trustee on the society's board, and for many years on the Collections Committee. For the past several years, she has been the society's database coordinator, making sure people on the membership list get membership letters, membership renewal notices, invitations to special events, recognition of major donors and more.

"I didn’t know your father well but what I did know was he was a really amazing man," Bruce said, addressing Board Member Heidi Hofbauer-Buzzy. "Thank you for honoring his memory and his way."

Wayne Wright received the Albert E. Morris Award, named after the city of Oneonta's first mayor, for his contributions to local history. Wright is the society's volunteer librarian and previously was a librarian at the New York State Historical Association. He said his family has lived in the East End of Oneonta for 115 years, so "we know a lot about whats going on in this town." 

Wright said his interest in local history is partly due to a visit to the Greater Oneonta Historical Society, then known as the Upper Susquehanna Historical Society, as a child. He said he remembers being fascinated by the Otsego County atlas of 1868 and how he could see what communities looked like long ago. He said a project he would like to do for the library is a computerized catalog that would allow for easier searching. 

"I think it is up to GOHS to hold high the standard for local history and for local historical societies, and continue to promote our area's heritage," Wayne said. "We have to show others how it's done."

Shweta Karikehalli, staff writer, can be reached at skarikehalli@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7221. Follow her @DS_ShwetaK on Twitter.

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