There may be a simple way to thank community members for acts of generosity - a thank you letter; perhaps a plaque to hang on the wall, or putting a name in a newsletter – but this summer the Thousand Islands community thanked a special lady and her late husband with a unique summer event, held at Bella’s in Clayton.
Rather than just thanking Mary Dial and her late husband, Morse, for their many philanthropic gifts given to the North Country, a local committee established the Dial Scholarship Endowment at SUNY Potsdam. The endowment will provide annual scholarships to students from St Lawrence, Jefferson and Lewis counties, hoping to study the Arts at Potsdam. And better still, the majority of the gifts given in support of the scholarship endowment were matched by the Northern New York Community Foundation.
Co-chairs, Mary and Ted Mascott and Carol and Dick Munro, put together a representative River committee including, Nancy Breslin, Peggy and Bill Couch, Ken Deedy, Judy and John Glick, Jeanine and Sandy McNally, Alan Newel, Elaine Tack, Barbara and Trey Vars and Mable and Tom Walker. Together they organized a lovely evening.
“There are numerous organizations that benefitted from the Dial’s generosity over the years,” said Mary Mascott, “primary among them were the Samaritan Medical Center, the Thompson Park Conservancy, Northern New York Community Foundation, SUNY Potsdam, Thousand Islands Performing Arts Fund, Thousand Islands Land Trust, Thousand Islands Arts Center, Antique Boat Museum and Save The River.”
“When we questioned other community members, they all agreed that Mary and Morse, as community leaders, showed other residents, both year-round and seasonal, the value of giving back and thereby enriching the fabric of this regio’n.” said Mary Mascott. “For this reason we were all pleased to contribute to the Scholarship and to be on hand to once again meet Mary, who now lives in Clayton, and to personally thank her.”
Dr. Kristin Esterberg paid tribute saying, “As the newly appointed president of SUNY Potsdam, I would like to echo my appreciation for the wonderful opportunities this scholarship will provide for North Country students aspiring to study the arts at this premier art institution. I am very fortunate to have met first-hand the generous donors that clearly understand the importance of helping students achieve their dreams.”
One of the highlights of the evening was a performance by music graduate, Lisa Vroman, ‘79 alumna from SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music and a graduate of South Jefferson Central School in Adams, NY. Lisa is an opera performer and actress who starred as Christine Daaé, in "The Phantom of the Opera" for six years, in San Francisco, going on to perform in operas and recitals around the world. This month Lisa performed with the Rochester Philharmonic and she will be back at the Clayton Opera House on October 9 and 10, 2014.
Many of those attending had been regular visitors to the former Dial home west of Clayton. It was there that this generous couple created a magical garden on rocks that they proudly described as, “bedrock 650 million years old.” Photographs of the garden are now in the Smithsonian Institute and Elaine Tack, videographer, compiled these into a photographic video, thus allowing us all to enjoy this amazing place in perpetuity.
Mary Dial’s Garden, is part of the Garden Club of America's Collection in the Smithsonian Institute, Washington DC. Original Music by Kerrigan. Video by Elaine Vedette Tack.
By Susan Smith with photographs by Janet Sullins
Janet Sullins is a river artist and photographer. Her photographs have been published in Thousand Islands Sun, in the Save The River calendar and, thankfully, TI Life. However she is also a gifted artist, capturing the River in oil paintings, watercolors and in her beautiful stained glass work. When not working for the Town of Clayton, or walking her dog, you will probably find Janet suited-up for another scuba dive. In February, 2013 Kathi McCarthy profiled Janet Sullins: River Queen of Arts, for TI Life.