In Front Sitting: Kathleen Kaney, Colleen Kaney, Amy Kane Kneeling: Gavin Bassham (little boy), Richard Bassham, Michael Kane Standing: Gail Kaney, Michael Kaney, Megan Kane, Abigail Kane, Erin Kane
Mike and Gail Kaney started their life together in the Village of Hamburg in 1969 where they chose to raise their three daughters, Amy, Katie and Colleen. During those years phrases like… Be a good citizen”, “Make your community better place- volunteer”, and “If you see something you want changed — get involved”; were heard in the Kaney house. Simply stated, add value to your life and your community each and every day. Mike Kaney served as a medic in an Intensive Care Unit in an Evacuation Hospital during the Vietnam War. For his service, he was awarded a Bronze Star.
Mike’s community involvement through coaching youth sports starting in 1970 and continues today. Mike has been involved as a coach/director for Little Cagers Basketball and coach/director and president of Hamburg Junior Baseball League. He has also served as the Chairman of the Village of Hamburg Recreation Commission. Mike’s most rewarding coaching has come from his work with the Kyle Reid Challenger Baseball League. Mike researched and presented the idea for the league for children with special needs to the Hamburg Junior Baseball League. With their support and the support of Hamburg Central School District, The Reid Family, Town of Hamburg YES program, and adult volunteers, this program is entering its 17th season this year. Getting to know the kids behind the disabilities and their families has been a rewarding part of Mike’s service to youth. Mike’s work in real estate and with the economic development committee has lead him to be an active participant in the business community. This led him to start the Village Business Advisory Council (VBAC) during the Rte. 62 reconstruction project in Hamburg. He has also served as a Budget Ambassador for the school district. In the early years of her marriage Gail stayed at home raising their daughters. In 1984, she went to work for Lillian Brand, as her secretary in the Hamburg Central Pre-K program, working on behalf of young children and their families. Gail continued to work for the next 25 years in this capacity, being the first contact for many families entering the school district. During recent school events for her granddaughters, she can still pick out those familiar Pre-K faces…only on bigger bodies! Whether on the baseball diamond with the Challenger League, building numerous playgrounds or chairing the Hamburg Sno-Ball, Gail volunteers to support the Hamburg Community. Gail retired, or as she likes to say, “Graduated from Hamburg” in 2009. Amy Kaney Kane graduated in 1988 as a two-sport varsity athlete (gymnastics and basketball). She continued her education at Canisius College, BA’92, MA’94 in Education. She is married to Dr. Michael Kane and is the mother of three girls, Erin (’16), Megan (’18) and Abby (’21). Amy placed her teaching career on hold to raise her family. Along the way she has become a volunteer for the Hamburg schools. She became a member of the Hamburg Central PTSA and has held numerous volunteer/ leadership positions at UPES, Hamburg Middle School PTSA vice-president for 5 years, HHS Post Prom, a member of numerous district committees, Hamburg Bulldog Booster Club Board member, and Parent-Child Connection member. Outside of school, Amy was a Girl Scout volunteer and leader and manager for the Hamburg Monarchs G 02/03 Premier team. In 2016, Amy was honored with the Town of Hamburg Youth Bureau Mary T. Blakeslee Service to Youth Award. She will continue her volunteering within the district for years to come. Dr. Katie Kaney graduated in 1990 as a two-sport varsity athlete (tennis and basketball) and was a leader in the band and student government. Katie continued her education at UB, where she played basketball, served as VP of the Student Association and completed her BA in Biology and MBA in Healthcare. Katie pursued her doctorate in Public Health from UNC Chapel Hill in 2013. Katie has taken her family values to Charlotte, NC, where she is married to Rich Bassham and has a son, Gavin. Katie has been a volunteer for Hospice for over 20 years, served as President of Leadership Charlotte and serves on the Board of Directors of Loaves and Fishes, a local food pantry. She was recently named to join the UNC Public Health Foundation Board. She is currently Senior Vice President of Carolina HealthCare System. In 2015, Katie was awarded as one of the 50 Most Influential Women in Charlotte, NC. Though she is not in Hamburg, she continues visit often and supports Hamburg’s growth in numerous ways.
Colleen Kaney graduated in 1995 as a three-sport varsity athlete (tennis, basketball and softball). She participated in band and student government. Colleen continued on to SUNY Geneseo, BS’99 in education, receiving her MS in education and MS in administration (LIFTS program) from the University of Buffalo. Colleen started her teaching career as a Pre-K teacher in 1999, moving to a special education teacher then a classroom teacher in Room 100 at Charlotte Avenue School. In 2009, Colleen became the Director of Pupil Services. She currently serves as Assistant Superintendent for Student Services, Curriculum and Instruction for the District. She is active in the Parent-Child Connection, Town Youth Board and a member of Leadership Buffalo Class of 2012. Colleen was recently named to the 2016 Business First “40 Under 40”. She feels blessed every day to be giving back to the community that gave so much to her growing up. It is an honor to be part of this community and serve together to help it be great- Go Bulldogs!
There are many Hamburg families from the baby boom era that would be worthy of recognition and appreciation. Some, like the Collins and Russert families, had more kids starring in Bulldog sports, and families like the Brunners have continued to give so much to the Hamburg community. It is with recognition of the contributions and accomplishments of these and so many other worthy families that the Flemings humbly accepted and shared this tremendous recognition from the Hamburg Alumni Foundation and its Wall of Fame Committee.
Bob Fleming, Sr. graduated from HHS in ’39, while Jeanne (Cullen) Fleming did so in ’41. They were not high school sweethearts. They got together after World War II and after Bob’s service as a Flight Engineer on a B-29 in the South Pacific. We were led by two members of the Greatest Generation. Bob Sr. was an outstanding student and a decent athlete. Jeanne skied, golfed and played tennis, but her passion was art and art instruction. Both obtained college degrees and worked elsewhere before returning to Hamburg in 1956. With their six kids, there was never pressure to play sports; there was only an expectation that we would be physically active and be “good at something.” Bob, Jr. (’68), Mick (’69), Molly (’71) and Kate and Andy (both ’75) all succeeded at HHS. [Jane attended high school in White Plains after Bob & Jeanne moved there in 1976.] For most of us, athletics, art and/or student government was where we met our folks’ expectations — but grades always came first at their insistence. We were expected to work hard, succeed and have fun doing it. We were taught through the years that it is just as important to do good as to do well. The sportsmanship and teamwork reinforced through decades of athletic and school activity endeavors in Hamburg helped to hone that commitment. With our parents, there was always a focus on integrity, generosity, fairness and kindness — we were taught to pull for the underdog, be it the disadvantaged, the poor or the outclassed.
Bob, Jr. went on to Cornell where he played varsity football and did well in class. He then attended UB Law School and has been a partner at the Hodgson Russ law firm in Buffalo for 35 years. He and his wife Ruth have three children and two grand-children. Mick also went on to Cornell where he too played varsity football. Mick has held a number of executive positions and now serves as the Executive Director of the American Association of Chamber Executives in Washington, D.C. Mick was selected for the Foundation’s Sports Wall of Fame in 2012. He and wife Barbi (HHS ’70) have two children and a delightful grand-daughter. Molly in Binghamton, Ashland Oregon and China before entering the health care world. She has been a Naturopathic Doctor and Acupuncturist in Burlington, VT for the past 20 years where she and her daughter Zoe reside. Andy went to Pace University where he played varsity football. Upon graduation he served as an active duty Marine Infantry Officer for three years before going to UB for law school. He and his wife live on Central Avenue in the Village where they raised their three children. He and Dan Chiacchia have their law practice in Hamburg and Andy is the Village Judge, as well. Katy went on to Pace with Andy. (Bob, Sr. was the Dean of the Law School there and a full tuition waiver for his children was part of his compensation package.) Katy obtained a B.A. but then went on for a B.S. in Nursing, as well. She has been a Nurse Practitioner in Philadelphia for the past 25+ years. She is married and they raised their three children in Lower Merlon, PA. Jane left Hamburg after the 8th grade, but went on to excel at White Plains High School before going on to Pace where she was a two sport varsity athlete. Jane lives in Northern Virginia where she has headed up a very successful Calico Corners store for more than 15 years. On behalf of the grandparents, parents, teachers, coaches, teammates and community that gave us so much to work with and work for, we thank the Foundation for this honor.
Betty W. Johnson – HHS ‘ 38 – Served for twenty-eight years as School Lunch Director, designing and opening the cafeterias at Boston, Armor, the Middle School and the High School, while renovating the facilitates at Union Pleasant. She served as President of the Erie County School Food Service Association; Southwest Regional Director for the State School Food Service Association; State President; Northeast (nine states) Regional Director for the American School Food Service Association with a four year term on the National Board; president of the Hamburg Business and Professional Women, president of the Hamburg Quota Club, and Lt. Governor and Governor of the 17th District of Quota International. She was president of the Hamburg Teacher’s Credit Union for eighteen years.
Harold S. Johnson – HHS ‘47 – Holds a doctorate with twenty-two years as a university professor of both political science and racial and ethnic studies, author of a benchmark study of international plebiscites relating to national-self-determination; retiring from ten years as a U.S. government economist and strategic planner with the Bureau of Labor Statistics receiving the Commissioner’s Distinguished Service Award. He volunteered with the Route 62 Reconstruction Committee, Imagine Hamburg, the Village Economic Development Committee, which he later chaired, and the Main Street Grant Committee. He holds a Chamber of Commerce Community Service Award. In June, 2009 he received a Distinguished Alumni Award from the Board of Education. He has established a scholarship at St. Lawrence University to be awarded every four years to a resident of Erie County for which he received the G. Atwood Manley Society Achievement Award. His resume includes ten years’ service in the U.S. Army Reserves.
Helen L. Johnson – HHS ’48 – Harold’s Twin. An elementary school teacher with service in the Kenmore, Orchard Park, and Hamburg School Systems, totaling 35 years. In retirement, she worked with the Fredonia College Foundation, assisting students who were primary-grade teaching interns in the Hamburg schools, endowing the Helen L. Johnson Legacy Scholarship, to be awarded to an elementary education student in the Hamburg Program. She was a past Co-President of the Hamburg Central PTA, NEA representative for the Hamburg teachers, president of the Hamburg Teachers Association and vice-president of the Hamburg Alumni Association. She received a Friend of Education Award from the Hamburg Teachers Association and a New York State Distinguished Service Award. She was a former president of the Hamburg Women’s Club and a member of the Hamburg Support Center, Hamburg Learning Center, Hamburg Branch of the Red Cross, Supervisory Committee of the Hamburg Central Credit Union, and the Hamburg Counseling Center.
The Rich family has resided in Hamburg since 1945 when Jake and Millie Rich moved into the Quinby Dairy property. Their children Jay, Gary and Barbara all attended Hamburg High School. In 1957, the family moved into the Sandra Place home, where Jay and Carol raised 7 children, six of their own and their niece Tracy Meyers. All of them attended Charlotte Avenue School, while wearing out the diamonds and courts on the playground. There was at least one Rich in the Hamburg schools from 1959 to 1981. The family was fortunate that a number of them were employed at Rich Products. They are proud of their association with the Bob Rich family and this strong local company. While their success at Rich Products afforded the family the opportunity to stay in Western New York, it was their friendships established at Hamburg High School that enticed them all to stay and raise their families here. The Rich Family is proud of their support for several local missions, including their role in establishing Churches in Action. This group brings together 17 local churches where the combined talent allows for significant work projects, food and clothing drives and other mission support, both locally and internationally. The entire family has also been very involved at the Dunkirk Camp and Conference Center for more than 50 years. This Christian-based camp serves over 1000 youth and families, and is located on Route 5 overlooking Lake Erie. The Richs associations with St. Luke’s Mission of Mercy and mission trips to Haiti and Acuna, Mexico have all been shared with friends from Hamburg. Given that all 7 kids were involved in sports, the Richs participated in many Hamburg High School games and sports event over the years. In 1981, parents Jay and Carol Rich were awarded a Hamburg letter, recognizing the record number of sports events they attended over the years. That participation continues today as several of the 3rd generation of Richs go through the Hamburg school system. It was 1977 when Ed Van Tine moved to Hamburg and started a summer club lacrosse program at the Nike Base. There was a handful of the Rich family on that inaugural team in 1977 and in the early years of the program. That team was a direct predecessor of the strong Hamburg lacrosse program the district enjoys today. During their time in the Hamburg school system, the Richs were blessed with terrific teachers, coaches and teammates, many of whom are lifelong friends.
Carol Ann Russo – HHS ’63 – Briefly worked in the family business but succumbed to her love for breeding and showing horses throughout the country. Since the passing of Carol Ann in 2000 the Russo Family, established a whole new division of walk-trot show classes in her name. Carol Ann also bequeathed a scholarship fund to Cornell University to be used for the education of future veterinary students.
Joseph L. Russo – HHS ’63 – Attended Alfred State College in 1966 and joined the family business serving in various capacities. In the mid 1970’s he was named Executive Vice President. In 1980, upon the retirement of his father, Joseph was elevated to the position of President.
John Russo – HHS ’68 – Attended Corning College for two years, where he became active in the Army Reserves. He served the military in reserve status for six years. After leaving Corning, he joined the family business. He worked his way up learning every aspect of manufacture, sales, and distribution of soft Italian Cheese. In 1980 he became Senior Executive Vice President.
Celia Russo – HHS ’73 – Became active in the family business, gathering all the knowledge she could about the business working after school and on weekends. After graduation CeCe joined her brothers and began honoring her management skills while learning all the aspects of the business. She oversaw all aspects of the day to day office functions. She was named President of the food service division when it expanded in the late 1970s. In 1980 she was named Vice President of the Sorrento Cheese Company.