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Hudson Valley Community College Foundation to Honor Neil W. Kelleher for Lifetime Achievement

CONTACT: Sarah Boggess or Eric Bryant (518) 629-8071
FOR RELEASE: Immediate, Friday, April 6, 2001

The Hudson Valley Community College Foundation will honor former Assembly member Neil W. Kelleher with the Lifetime Achievement in Community Service Award, at a dinner in his honor, April 24, at Franklin Plaza, Troy.

Neil Kelleher was born and raised in North Troy, and attended St. Augustine's and Lansingburgh schools before entering the Navy to serve in World War II. His four-year stint included three years of combat duty in the South Pacific commanding a rescue boat. Despite involvement in some of the Pacific Theater's bloodiest engagements, Kelleher's boat remained unscathed.

Returning to his native city, Kelleher began a sales career that paralleled his growing interest in public service. In 1954, he was appointed to fill a vacancy as alderman from the 17th Ward, deep in the heart of Lansingburgh. He was elected again to that post and, in 1960, slipped by Democrat incumbent John J. Purcell by 200 votes to take the Troy mayoralty.

After one term as mayor, Kelleher was ready to move on to the State Assembly, where he created a 26-year legacy of service. He completed 13 consecutive terms in the Assembly chamber, fighting for the constituents of the 100th district and rising to a position as chairman of the Republican Conference.

Kelleher did not rest following his accomplishments in the Assembly chamber. Following his leave from the Capitol, he was elected chairman of the Troy Housing Authority and, in 1998, was appointed a commissioner of the state Board of Elections. Throughout the years, Kelleher was honored by numerous organizations - veteran's group environmental coalitions, chambers of commerce, youth and scouting organizations. The list is as varied as it is seemingly endless.

Also long is the list of organizations for which he has given his time and talent. The United Way, Leonard Hospital, the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, Disabled American Veterans, Lansingburgh School District, Lansingburgh Boys Club, Campfire Girls, and the Ancient Order of Hibernians, are just a few groups.

Aside from his political and civic accomplishments, Kelleher's greatest pride is his family. He and his wife, June Frank, enjoy their three grown children, Timothy, Neil and Tracy, and their six grandchildren, Cornelius, Kara, Shelby, Madelyn, Gwendolyn and Griffin.

Neil Kelleher's roots remain deep in the Troy community. He can harken back to his childhood in the 'Burgh, when he joined his father and two brothers to harmonize barbershop-style for local talent contests. According to an old newspaper clipping, the quartet even had a screen test with 20th Century Fox. Just when it looked like they might garner a movie deal, one of the sons had a change of voice.

Hollywood's loss is Troy's gain. Neil Kelleher is one of a diminishing breed - a gentleman politician with vision, dedication and commitment to his constituents.

The Lifetime Achievement in Community Service Award is presented by the Hudson Valley Community College Foundation to an individual who has demonstrated a continuing desire to strengthen his or her community, promote the common good and encourage community involvement by personal example.

The event will include a cocktail reception at 6 p.m. followed by a dinner at 7 p.m. Business attire is suggested. Franklin Plaza is located at the corner of Fourth and Grand streets in Troy. Reservations will be accepted until April 13.

The Hudson Valley Community College Foundation is a charitable 501 (c) (3) corporation committed to enhancing college programs and providing financial assistance to support scholarships, academic initiatives and equipment, student support services, and community outreach. Contributions to the foundation are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.

For more information about attending the event, contact the Hudson Valley Community College Foundation at 629-8012.