SULLIVAN COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY
HISTORY MAKER AND HISTORY PRESERVER AWARDS
The individual biographies are original script from the Award Ceremony Programs, which were distributed at the time the awards were made.
To preserve the integrity and meaningfulness of the award, no editing has been made to the original script.
Sullivan County Historical Society History Preserver Award 1998
William Galbraith Smith (1920-1998)
William Galbraith Smith was born in 1920 in Kings Park, New York. The family moved to Ossining, New York where Bill’s father was a dietitian at Sing Sing Prison. When Bill was twelve, his father died. His Irish immigrant mother moved with her two sons to Stone Ridge, New York. Bill attended and graduated from Kingston City High School. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps and during the World War II served in the European Theater of War in England and Scotland with the 710th Bomb Squadron. Bill was honorably discharged as Technical Sergeant in September 1945. He served in the Air Force Reserves from 1945 until 1953.
Sullivan County Historical Society History Maker Award 1998
The Hon. Lawrence H. Cooke
When future historians look back on Sullivan County in the twentieth century, they will probably agree that the First Citizen of the county was a Monticello man, Lawrence H. Cooke, who became Chief Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals. These historians will be impressed with the Judge’s legal accomplishments, but they will be even more impressed with his character. They will note that the Judge was a man who achieved a position of great responsibility, who changed the judicial landscape in the State, who could have gone on to achieve even higher honors in Washington, but was one who never lost his sense of roots: that Sullivan County was home and that all its citizens were his friends and neighbors.
A man’s character is first shaped by his parents and Judge Cooke is conscious not only of his love for his parents, but of his debt to them. “My father was the essence of rectitude and my mother the essence of refinement,” he recalls. His father’s advice continues to guide him. When he faces difficult decisions, he remembers his father’s words, “If in doubt, always take the high road.” When he was offered favors which would later become political obligations, he heard the advice, “I hope you never have to say it, but you ought to be able to tell anybody to go to hell if you have to.” In addition to advice, his father set an example of hard work. The son of a cobbler, George Cooke became a school teacher, then eventually a lawyer and finally the Sullivan County Court Judge and Surrogate. Lawrence’s mother, Mary Pond, was equally influential. She came from a Connecticut family of academic accomplishment. She herself attended Mt. Holyoke and taught Latin and mathematics. The Judge remembers her as an accomplished linguist who could also have taught Greek, but there was no call for that language.
Sullivan County Historical Society History Maker Award 1997
John Raleigh Mott (1865~1955)
Nobel Peace Prize in 1946
Ambassador to China
The typical Sullivan County resident has probably never heard of John R. Mott who was born in Livingston Manor in 1865, but in his day he had an international reputation, was asked by President Wilson to be our ambassador to China, received seven honorary degrees from colleges and universities, was given awards by eight countries and was presented with the Nobel Peace Prize in 1946.
The National Enyclopedia of American Biography wrote: “(John Mott) is regarded as one of the most constructive religious geniuses since John Wesley. As a leading force in aggressive Christianity he has probably influenced more young men at home and abroad than any other evangelist of his time and as an executive he effected a unification and coordination of mission forces which resulted in saving large sums of money and elimination of overlapping and the minimizing of friction.
Sullivan County Historical Society History Preserver Award 1997
James Burbank (1900 – 1975)
Like Manville Wakefield, James Burbank combined a strong interest in local history with impressive artistic talents. He left behind a diverse legacy which includes Fort Delaware, the official seal of the Sullivan County Community College and a reinvigorated Historical Society.
He was born April 22, 1900 in New York City, but when his mother died he and his brother were sent to Sullivan County to live with their grandparents in Fosterdale. From these early years developed his lifelong love of county history. His education concluded with eighth grade and in 1917 he enlisted in the Navy and embarked on a career which spanned three decades. He served on a number of different ships; at some point he had a Torpedoman’s rating, but towards the end of his career his specialty was photography. As he matured, his artistic interests surfaced and whenever shore duty provided the opportunity he took art courses at Pratt Institute. His work impressed the Navy and during his last years in the service he was attached to the Naval Recruiting Bureau designing posters and pamphlets. He retired as Chief Warrant Officer in 1948. Also, during his navy days he married Josephine Woll from Brooklyn on May 16, 1931. They had one daughter, Mrs. Margaret (Burbank) McIntyre, known as Peggy.
Sullivan County Historical Society History Maker Award 1996
Judge Robert C. Williams
Judge Robert Williams shared the simple upbringing of many young people who grew up in western Sullivan in the first half of this century. His family was poor, but since his life was so similar to that of his neighbors he was not conscious of it. His parents, Harry and Violet Scott Williams, had a small farm in West Bethel. To supplement Harry’s earnings as a highway equipment operator, the family raised chickens for eggs, kept a cow for milk and butter, fed a couple of pigs and in their garden grew potatoes and vegetables. During the summer the family of four (Bob had an older brother) moved into a chicken coop, about 15’ x 15’ and rented the house to guests escaping New York City’s summer heat. The guests may have enjoyed Sullivan’s cool air, but Bob has never forgotten how hot a chicken coop can be in July.