Local Cornellians

Since the founding of the University, the Buffalo area has always held strong ties to Cornell. Some famous Cornellians from (and in) Buffalo include:

— George K. Birge ’73, was the owner of a large wallpaper business, M. H. Birge and Co., as well as one of the first investors in the Pierce Arrow Company, known for its luxury cars at the turn of the 20th century. Birge would become President of the Pierce Arrow Company and serve from 1908 through 1916. While at Cornell, Birge penned the Glee Club song ‘Cornell’, with the opening lyrics “The soldier loves his gen’ral’s fame…”

E.B. Green ’78, the dean of Buffalo architecture, was the most prolific Buffalo architect of all time, and responsible for over 2oo residences, offices, and public buildings in Buffalo. His work includes the Albright Art Gallery, the Buffalo YMCA, the Buffalo Savings Bank (now M&T’s Gold Dome), and the First Presbyterian Church of Buffalo (as featured in the Club’s logo). Green was a colleague and apprentice to William Henry Miller ’72, who designed many of the first buildings on Cornell’s campus, including Uris Library and McGraw Tower.

The Schoellkopf Family The family patriarch, Jacob F. Schoellkopf, was prominent in a number of different business interests in the Buffalo area, including his role as founder and president of the Niagara Fall Hydraulic Power & Manufacturing Company, which was the first entity to produce electricity using Niagara Falls.

Schoellkopf’s grandchildren include Henry Schoellkopf Jr. ’02, Jacob Frederick Schoellkopf III ’05, Paul Arthur Schoellkopf ’06, Walter Horton Schollkopf ’08, William Graebe Schoellkopf ’19, and Walter Schoellkopf Schmidt ’21.

Schoellkopf Field, the University’s football stadium, was named in memory Henry Schoellkopf ’02. And great-grandson Henry Schoellkopf Reuss ’33 would go on to be one of the most enduring congressmen of the 20th century,serving from 1955 through 1983.

— Willis Carrier ’01, inventor of modern air conditioning, was born outside of Buffalo before attending Cornell on scholarship for a degree in mechanical engineering. He later worked for the Buffalo Forge Company.

— George A. Newbury ’17, was a University Trustee for ten years 1959 through 1969. An attorney by training, Newbury was the President of M&T Bank from 1954 to 1962.

— Alfred M. Saperston LLM ’19, was a University Trustee, past president of the Federation of Cornell University’s Men’s Clubs, president of the Cornell Law Association, and national chairman of the Cornell Fund. A corporate lawyer, Saperston was also the founder of Buffalo’s educational television station, WNED.

— Ellsworth M. Statler, founder of Statler Hotels; while not a Cornell alumnus, he was a consumate Cornellian nonetheless. Upon visiting the University’s hotel school in 1927, he became a large supporter of its goals, and upon upon his death soon thereafter his fortune would help create the world’s foremost hospitality management program.

Matt Urban ’41, was raised in Buffalo before attending Cornell to earn a degree in history and government. His valiant service in World War II has long been admired, and according to the Guinness Book of World Records, he is the most decorated American serviceman in history.

Barber B. Conable Jr. ’42 JD ’48, former Rochester-area congressman and president of the World Bank. Conable was born in Warsaw, NY, and spent the early years of his legal career in Buffalo; he would meet his wife at a function of the Buffalo Cornell Club.

— Wilson Greatbatch ’50, who advanced the development of early implantable cardiac pacemakers, also built the receivers for what became the Cornell Radio Telescope at Arecibo, Puerto Rico

— John Kirschner ’51 ’53, affectionately known as “Mr. Cornell”, was a consumate Cornellian and life-long Buffalonian. A long time attorney with Damon Morey, he was honored on numerous occasions by the University. Most notably, he was awarded Cornell’s prestigious Frank H. T. Rhodes Exemplary Alumni Service Award in 2002, the title of Foremost Benefactor of Cornell in 1998, and the honor of lifetime member of the University Council in 1996.

 Janice Okun ’54, Buffalo’s favorite foodie, has been writing restaurant reviews for The Buffalo News for decades — decreeing the good, the bad, and the ugly of Western New York and Southern Ontario’s restaurant scene.

Kitty Smith Turgeon ’55 has been recognized as the driving force behind the restoration and revitalization of East Aurora’s Roycroft Campus. She purchased the Inn in 1977 and returned to Cornell to earn a masters degree in architectural preservation.

Susan Rothenberg ’67 is a prominent contemporary artist, whose work features large acrylic, figurative paintings, and is often noted for her work depicting horses and infusing images into minimalist themes. She earned her Bachelor’s in Fine Arts from Cornell in 1967, and is featured in the book, “The 100 Most Notable Cornellians”.

Brian McCutcheon ’71 was the Associate Coach for the Buffalo Sabres  from 2000 – 2011, and previously coached both the Rochester Americans and the Cornell Big Red hockey team. He won a national championship as part of Cornell’s famed unbeaten and untied 1970 hockey team.

 William Sadler MFA ’74, attended Cornell for graduate studies in theater after completing his undergraduate years at SUNY-Geneseo. Sadler was born  in Buffalo and attended Orchard Park High School. He has appeared in such films as The Shawshank RedemptionThe Green Mile, and Kinsey, while also earning a Saturn award for best actor in a science fiction film.

Travis Mayer ’08, Cornellian and Olympian, won the Silver Medal in the moguls competition of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah. He attended Orchard Park schools.