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.
8-0! After 40 years it’s still the way that teammates greet one another, whether on email or when getting together for reunions. “The most talented team I ever coached,” remarked Head Coach Dick Van Valkenburgh, who along with Defense Coordinator, Gene Seidleck, and lead by Co-captains, Gary Beckett and Tom Hansen, enjoyed the first undefeated football season since 1959, and the last Hamburg football team to complete a perfect season. This team had all the characteristics of a successful team: speed, endurance, dedication, commitment, and the will to outlast all opponents.
According to team records, the 1974 team was rated #3 in WNY and #11 in New York State! They outscored their opponents 217 (27 PPG) to 39 (4.9 PPG). On offense, Quarterback Dennis Courtney ran the option offense majestically, distributing the ball to running backs Mike Wilson (10 yards per carry), Tom Kalke (5.6 yards per carry), and Phil Warner (5.4 yards per carry). While Courtney only threw the ball 28 times all season, 4 of those passes went for touchdowns, 3 of them going to Andy Fleming. On defense, the team had four players selected Division II 1st team All Stars: Al Galac, Rick Peters, Larry Petzing, and linebacker Doug Boyd, who was an All-State selection.
One of the remarkable facts of this team according to Coach Van Valkenburgh was that “the skill level was so good that we were able to split the team into strictly offense and defense,” with 21 of the 22 positions being played by a different person, in other words, only 1 player played both on offense and defense, which is unheard of in high school football. In total, eight players on offense and defense were chosen as All-Stars, four 1st team on offense and defense. Talking with team members they all lament that there wasn’t a playoff back in 1974 or this team ‘would have gone to 9-0 at Ralph Wilson Stadium!
Born in Buffalo, New York on December 15, 1926, Leo Fallon was one of seven children of Edward and Leone Fallon. It was not long after his birth that the family moved to Hamburg. Leo graduated from St. Peter and Paul’s grade school in 1940 and Hamburg High School in 1944. He enlisted in the United States Army Air Force in 1945 and served until being honorably discharged as a staff sergeant in 1947. After leaving the Army Air Force, Mr. Fallon attended St. Bonaventure University where he graduated cum laude in 1950. He then entered the Cornell University Law School where he was selected to the Board of Editors to the Cornell Law Quarterly and also elected to the Order of the Coif. He graduated with distinction in 1953 and was admitted into practice in November of that year. Mr. Fallon was appointed Assistant U.S. Attorney by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1957 and became a partner in the law firm of Offerman, Fallon, Mahoney & Cassano. He was subsequently elected Hamburg Village Justice, where he served 12 years. In 1972, he became Hamburg Town Supervisor, serving five consecutive 2-year terms. During that time he was elected the first chairman to the Waste Water Treatment Facility in recognition of his efforts in obtaining federal and state funding for the construction of the treatment plants. In 1986, Judge Fallon was elected to a 12-year term on the New York State Supreme Court. During that time, Mr. Fallon was appointed to the Appellate Division’s Fourth Department where he served until 1998.
Gerald G. Gerbracht enrolled at Buffalo Teachers College in 1950, completing his bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education in August of 1953. From there, Gerald enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving most of the enlistment at Fort Campbell, Kentucky Before his discharge in the summer of 1955, Gerbracht was hired by the Hamburg Central School District to teach junior high mathematics. He completed his master’s degree in mathematics, also at Buffalo State Teachers College, and his Ph.D. in Education Administration at SUNY Buffalo State, During his long career with Hamburg Central Schools, Gerald taught 8th grade mathematics from 1955 to 1959. He also served as an Assistant Principal from 1960 to 1964. In 1964, Gerbracht became an Assistant Superintendent of Business Affairs, a position he held for 28 years until his retirement in 1992. During his career, Gerald touched the lives of many students, parents and co-workers, and at the same time, he also enjoyed the challenge of budget and finance for the district Gerald enjoyed retirement as well with his wife of 56 years. Gerald remained active, serving as election inspector in the high school gym during school board and special elections. He was also an election inspector for Hamburg village elections, serving as Chairman of the inspectors for many years. Gerald served the Hamburg Central School District for 37 years as a teacher and administrator. He was lifelong learner who had great affection for the Hamburg School District he served.
Michael Karpie graduated from Canisius College with a BS in Business Education and an MS in School Administration. He joined the Hamburg Central School District in 1977, where he taught business classes for 34 years. In addition to teaching, Mike also got involved with other programming at Hamburg, Including Director of Hamburg’s Adult Education Program, the School-To-Work Program, the Ford Academy of Manufacturing Science and Hamburg’s Leadership Academy. He found great reward and success in each of these programs, but arguably his greatest achievements came when he resurrected and led Hamburg’s DECA program for 23 years. DECA is an association of students and teachers that participate in a program of regional, state and national competitions aimed at helping young leaders and entrepreneurs prepare for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and other areas of business. Under Mike Karpie’s leadership and direction, the DECA students not only won on the regional and state levels, but he also oversaw 105 national winners in 23 years. That number is truly astounding when you consider less than 1% of those who compete ever make it to the National level. One of the proudest moments came with the national win by his Civic Project Team. They made a year-long commitment to MDA and wrote a 30-page manual, resulting in three of his students winning an all-expense paid trip to Hawaii. Hamburg competitors traveled to many places around the country building business and leadership skills. They covered more than 100,000 miles in 23 years, competing in New York, California, Hawaii, Washington, D.C., Tennessee, St. Louis, Boston and Dallas. Many of the students were also committed to leadership conferences and board meetings as chapter and regional officers in DECA, and the Hamburg students served in 16 state offices over 23 years. Mike also served on the Board of the Directors of the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce, the New York State DECA Board and as President of Western New York DECA, responsible for student security for New York State. His is now retired and resides in Alden where he sits on the Board of Education.