A native of Fredonia and a graduate of Fredonia State College, Katherine Schuler began her Hamburg teaching career in 1940. She was in charge of vocal and choral music, grades 1— 12. Miss Schuler, in addition to directing the regular choruses, formed a girls’ septet and elementary boys’ choir, continuing to build the mixed and a cappella choirs. After centralization, she worked in the junior high, starting a Select Choir, and in 1970, moved to the high school and formed a Madrigal Group. These ensembles performed in school concerts, for community groups, and area music contests. In 1974, the Madrigals sang at the NYSSMA All-State Festival in Kiamesha Lake, NY. She married Homer Fiero in 1946. For three summers, she earned credits toward her Masters Degree while her husband was finishing his Masters at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. For many years she participated as an active member of the Erie Count-v. Music Educators’ Association and was Chairperson of the All-State Chorus in 1976. Mrs. Fiero was an excellent music teacher and insisted on the use of solid vocal techniques. Total dedication, amazing energy and a spirit of joy and caring were the hallmarks of her decades of teaching. As one student so aptly wrote on a picture he gave to her, “To the greatest teacher, advisor, “mother”, friend, and person I have ever known, I’ll love you always.” She desired above all that her students learn valuable singing skills and enjoy the process. Mrs. Katherine Schuler Fiero will long be remembered in the hearts of those who knew her as teacher, mentor and friend.
Homer Fiero was born in Canandaigua, NY. His mother played piano, and had him take both piano and clarinet, taking him to Rochester for lessons with a Philharmonic clarinetist. He received a B.S. in Music from Ithaca College, and a Master of Music from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. In 1945, Mr. Fiero came to Hamburg, hired to build up the band program. He recruited new members from older elementary students through high school grades. During his first year of teaching, the band doubled its membership. Under his able leadership, the band continued to receive superior ratings at music contests, year after year. He initiated West Point-style uniforms, and baton and flag twirlers for the marching band, which participated in football games and town parades. His great love for the harp led him to begin a Harp Program, including the purchase of a harp for school use. He also was Director of the Kingsmen Drum and Bugle Corp for some years. He had a keen interest in each of his students, gladly giving extra lessons when needed. In addition, he had -a gift of transmitting tremendous enthusiasm and appreciation for music to them. Those who continued on with music as a career said they did so due to his encouragement and belief in them. He arose each day excited about teaching music. This man truly made a difference in the lives of his students as well as those who knew him personally, leaving a lasting legacy of music in the Hamburg Schools.
Lillian Brand was a pioneer in early childhood education in New York and a passionate advocate for children and their families. She was well-known to legislators and state education officials in Albany from her many trips there to press for funding and expansion of early childhood education. As director of the Pre-K program, she supervised her staff as she did her students in her classroom, respecting and identifying strengths of each one, and helping them to grow and learn to be the best they could be. As a result, the Hamburg Pre-K program was recognized as a model program by the state Education department. Her consultant work helped to expand the prekindergarten program in other districts throughout the state. Lillian’s role expanded as she was given the task to facilitate the move to full day kindergarten and literacy instruction through grade 2. Her work with staff continued her early childhood philosophy through the early grades. The ultimate professional, Lillian’s personal and professional life overlapped. She served her community in many ways, whether it was facilitating parenting classes, or encouraging literacy enrichment or serving on special committees to address community concerns. She always accepted the requests to be part of those committees. Her respect for young children and their families and her ability to empower each, was her life’s work.
Jackie Riggs Emerling (Class of 1950) — Jackie graduated from Hamburg High School majoring in art. During her senior year she performed as the school mascot. Not being comfortable in the spotlight, Jackie dressed in what looked like white long johns, hid her face under a paper mache bulldog mask and pranced around the field during football games.
Before starting her family, Jackie worked at AM&A’s in Buffalo in the men’s department. She had dreamed of landing a job in window display, but much to her dismay it never happened. Once starting her family, she quit her job and became a stay at home mom. As the children grew, she landed a job at Brookins Florist in Orchard Park as a floral designer. She worked part-time for 17 years before retiring.
Jackie has been working for the village maintaining the gardens throughout the town. She serves as a volunteer and co-chair of the Village Beautification Committee. She is on the committee for the “Buzz Around Hamburg” garden walk, is an active member of the Hamburg House and Garden Club and has been awarded a lifetime membership with the District 8 New York State Garden Club. Because of her artistic and horticultural talents, she has won numerous blue ribbons and special awards of excellence at the Erie County Fair for her window box displays and maintains an Erie County Agricultural Society Membership.
Along with these organizations, Jackie also belongs to the Hamburg Antique Study Group and has been since before the Boise-Lord house was moved from Main Street to its present location on South Park Avenue. She has worked many years there, renovating and remodeling and still spends considerable time helping the curator, especially during open houses, flea markets and Christmastime. Jackie also belongs to the Southtowns Dollhouse Miniatures Group, is a board member of the Village of Hamburg Community Center and is a past member of the Hamburg High School Alumni Association. She is a member of the Hamburg Volunteer Fire Department Squad 10 Group, which takes care of food and beverages during working fires and special events.
In her typical low-keyed demeanor, when she was informed of her selection for this award, her response was, “why?” She has been known to state, “I love my community and want to do what I can for it.”
George Emerling (Class of 1950) – George graduated from Hamburg High School majoring in Industrial Arts and finishing first in his class. During his high school career, he earned varsity letters in baseball and bowling, and served as secretary of the Varsity H Club in his senior year.
Shortly after high school, graduation night to be exact, George and Jackie Riggs started dating. Neither of them being able to afford college, they found jobs and married one year later. When the Korean War was going on, George had a 3A exemption due to having a wife and a little girl. He worked three different jobs within the first three years after marriage. On June 15, 1953, he applied for the Tool and Die apprenticeship at Ford’s Buffalo Stamping Plant and started the following day. His apprenticeship included 8,000 hours of on the job training and four years of part-time classes at Burgard Vocational School on Kensington Avenue in Buffalo. He finished his apprenticeship in 1957, and after retiring on January 1, 1992, he worked seven years in the ECC Vocational Department teaching mechanical drawing and blueprint reading.
Joining the Hamburg Volunteer Fire Department in October of 1964, George was an officer on the hook and ladder truck for several years. He was elected Assistant Chief, serving from 1971 through 1976 and as Chief in 1977 and 1978 of the Fire Department. He was honored as the “Fireman of the Year” in 1979. During his 30 plus years as a fireman, he participated in several department activities including numerous fire training classes and played on the baseball, volleyball and bowling teams. Along with Jackie, they created elaborate decorations for the annual firemen’s banquets held at the former Lake Street fire hall. Being exposed to and curious about it, George learned the art of gold leaf lettering and worked part-time for several years lettering fire trucks in the local area until the traditional art had been replaced by computer generated letters. He also spent many years compiling and recording fire department history dating from 1874 to 2000, but his proudest achievement for the Hamburg Volunteer Fire Department was the restoration of the 1927 antique Federal Hook and Ladder truck. George was assisted mostly in the project by Don Jacobs and at times from other members of the fire department. The Federal truck, along with the department’s old hose cart, is pictured in the publication, Antique Fire Apparatus of Western New York. George has not only volunteered with the fire department, but has devoted much of his time helping to restore the Boise-Lord house on South Park Avenue to its original form. For several years, George volunteered to build several large, central-themed pieces for the Erie County Fair display gardens located in the Creative Arts Department. Also, being a longtime member of the Hamburg High School Alumni Association, he only became active after retirement and served as treasurer for approximately ten years.
The Hamburg High School girls swimming and diving team dominated Section VI during the mid-eighties. The Lady Bullfrogs won 54 consecutive dual meets from October 1983 through October 1988. The Sectional Champion teams of 1985, 1986 and 1987 were the culmination of a tradition of excellence that began in the late seventies. The girls won nine ECIC Divisional titles beginning in 1978 and six ECIC Meet Championships beginning in 1980. The HHS Class of 1988 was undefeated from their first modified swim meet to the final varsity meet in 1987.
After 25 years and despite numerous improvements in swimming training and technique, six individual records still remain. Cherie Benz, Sarah Mumbach, and Trish Griffin hold two school records each. Three relays also remain: 400 freestyle school (Penny Davis, Cherie Benz, Sarah Mumbach, Colleen Bugman), 200 medley school (Colleen Bugman, Sarah Mumbach, Cherie Benz, Julie Andreef) and 400 freestyle pool (Lauren Makeyanko, Sally Haws, Cherie Benz, Penny Davis).
Row 1: Melinda LaPaglia, Jenny David, Sara Hughey, Jessica Hughey, Beth Krawczyk. Row 2: Shelly Kummer, Cherie Benz, Kelly McNaney, Vicki Piniewski, Jeanne Golebiewski. Row 3: Coach William Malican, Wendy Howe, Emily Leach, Allyson Cook, Kris Almond, Trish Griffin, Kris Hornberger, Kris Mirasola, Sue Ford, Coach Dave Evans, Colleen Bugman. Row 4: Lauren Makeyenko, Sally Haws, Katie Shanks, Captain Lillian Michalko, Bridget Lalley, Cheryl Vanderzell. Missing: Penny Davis, Karoline Henry, Captain Lisa McNaney.