Community Spotlight: Meet the Bellardini Family

This is a press release from Linda Dickerson Hartsock. 

The community is invited to join in a driving and walking tribute procession along Homer’s North Main Street on Saturday, June 13 to recognize and thank Harry and Mary Alice Bellardini for their service to our community. The event is being organized by area residents and local groups who have been touched by the Bellardini’s contributions, as a way to recognize them as they leave Homer for their new home near Charlotte, NC. They have lived in Homer for 53 years, where they raised their three children, Eileen, John and Dan.

All organizations, friends and neighbors are welcome to be part of the informal procession celebration.  Drivers are asked to meet at 10 a.m. at Durkee Memorial Park. Walkers are asked to park on Warren Street or the Town Hall Parking lot, and meet at the intersection of Warren Street and North Main Street at 10:15 a.m. The procession will move south from Durkee Park to James Street.  Following guidance by health officials, participants who are walking must wear masks and maintain social distance of at least six feet. Cars can include small groups of immediate family members or riders 6 feet apart. No bicycles, motorcycles or passengers on the back of pickups or flatbeds are allowed. All participants are encouraged to bring handmade signs to help identify themselves as they pass by the Bellardini’s house. Feel free to decorate cars.

To indicate interest in participating, please e-mail Ann Siegle at ann_siegle@joborder.com

Rain date for the procession is Sunday, June 14 at 1 p.m., and in case of inclement weather registered participants will be notified by e-mail.

Harry Bellardini,’56, M ’64 SUNY Cortland, enjoyed a distinguished career in education, business, politics and community service. Among his accomplishments are as account executive with the Great New York State Fair, administrative assistant to the former 33rd District U.S. Congressman Gary Lee and regional advocate for the Small Business Administration. He was also instrumental in the development of the Lynne Parks ’68 SUNY Cortland Alumni House – the former 1912 Wickwire mansion – as the center of alumni life at the College.  In recognition of that, and honoring his role on the SUNY Cortland Alumni Association Board of Directors for more than 50 years, Harry was the 2016 recipient of the SUNY Cortland College-Community Appreciation Award.  He was also recognized with the 2005-06 SUNY Cortland Alumni Volunteer of the Year. A former SUNY Cortland alumna donor honored him with a Parks Alumni House permanent preservation gift in his name, placing him among the Parks Alumni House trustees.

A graduate of Cortland High School, Harry served in the U.S. Air Force before returning home to complete his education at SUNY Cortland. After starting his career as a teacher in the Southern Tier, he became a physical education teacher for many years at the former SUNY Cortland Campus School and was a coach and drivers education teacher for many years at Cortland High School.

Harry was a long-time member of the board of the 1890 House Museum and is a member of the St. Margaret’s Church Pastoral Council, where he also volunteers as an usher. Both are members of the Cortland Country Club, where Harry has been an avid golfer.

He was previous chair of the Cortland County Republican Party and very active at the local and state level, and he still serves as committeeman in his election district.

Mary Alice Bellardini, M’58 SUNY Cortland, also holds an undergraduate degree in sociology from LeMoyne. In 2014 she received the distinction of being named a “Women of Distinction: Honoring Women of New York” at a ceremony at the Women’s Rights National Historic Park Seneca Falls, recognizing her as a trailblazing leader in community revitalization, economic development and historic preservation at the state, county and local level.

She became of member of the Cortland County Legislature in 1980, serving seven years before becoming elected the first female mayor of the Village of Homer in 1987, a position she held for 14 years until 2001. She then became a long-time board member of the Cortland County Business Development Corporation/ Industrial Development Agency.

As Mayor, she championed many infrastructure, beautification and preservation projects. She helped develop new water and sewer lines, and historic period-era energy efficient lighting for Main Street. She initiated weekly summer concerts on the historic Village Green, reopened the Water Street Bridge walkway and led beautification of the business district. She was instrumental in the historic renovation of the Phillips Free Library which won a NYS Preservation Society Award.

In 1974, she co-founded the non-profit Landmark Society of Cortland County Inc. and continues to serve as a member of the organization which helps preserve local historic assets. One of her enduring legacies is Homer’s designation as the largest intact federal and state historic district in New York State. She helped catalogue more than 200 historic structures as part of that effort, including designation of building on the National Historic Register of Historic Places by the United States Department of the Interior.

In recognition of her work, Mary Alice was elected president of the New York State Conference of Mayors in 1995 and appointed by Governor Pataki in 2000 to New York State’s Quality Communities Interagency Task Force.

She has served on many boards, including Alliance (now NBT) Bank, Central New York Blue Cross/Blue Shield and the Home Store. Locally, she is a long-time volunteer with the Homer Garden Club and the Center for the Arts of Homer.  She had also been a small business owner and teacher.

Those who are not able to join the procession are encouraged to send notes to the Bellardini’s at their North Main Street, Homer address.