Surrounded by family and friends, Vestal alumni Rachel Laquidara-Kolvek (Class of 1989) and James B. O’Hora (Class of 1957) were inducted into the Vestal Hall of Fame along with USAF Colonel Fredrick Plaumann (Class of 1977), who was inducted in absentia. The induction followed the Hall of Fame dinner on Wednesday, May 3, in the cafeteria of the Vestal High School.
“They set the foundation; they prepared me for what was to lie ahead,” said Rachel Laquidara-Kolvek, as she gave her acceptance speech. “My teachers and coaches here at Vestal helped to instill in me the work ethic and drive I would draw on every day of my life.”
Two of those coaches were with her that night, her field hockey and softball coach, Vickie Sax, who was also inducted into the Vestal Hall of Fame in 1997, and her basketball coach, Michelle Tidick. Rachel thanked them personally. “I’m so grateful to both of you for being here tonight. You both were amazing coaches who influenced me greatly!”
Next inducted was Colonel Plaumann, who is about to look back at a 30-plus-year career with the U.S. Air Force. It is a career punctuated by commendations and service awards every step of the way. They include the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Air Force Meritorious Service Medal, and the Air Force Commendation Medal, just to name a few. His assignments have spanned the globe, with posts at Air Force bases from Alaska to Italy to South Korea, and time as a Royal Air Force Exchange Officer in Scotland. Currently, Colonel Plaumann is the Deputy Director of Logistics, Civil Engineering and Force Protection at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.
We suspect that the last inductee of the evening has green and gold running through his veins, as, without exaggeration, he is the most loyal alumnus Vestal has ever seen. Mr. James B. O’Hora, was elected president of his eighth-grade class in 1952, and has remained Semper Fi to his alma mater ever since! Currently the president of the Vestal 50-plus Club, a group of alumni who have been graduated 50 years or more, Mr. O’Hora was heartfelt in his humble appreciation for what he considered the greatest honor of his lifetime. “To be named to the Vestal Hall of Fame is almost beyond belief,” he said. “I’m very proud to be included with such illustrious people.”
Like Mrs. Liquidara-Kolvek, Mr. O’Hora credited Vestal with building the basic foundation for a lifetime of success. “What we received while we were here was trust, love, responsibility and a model of how to be accountable,” he said. “Vestal cared, and they set the tone for the rest of my life.”
That life reflects a 50-year legacy of leadership. Professionally, he was CEO of five different nonprofit organizations in three states over the course of three and half decades. He has also demonstrated his dedication to community by sharing his leadership skills with a long list of nonprofits, including the Broome County Citizens Advisory Board, the Broome County United Way’s Executive Committee, the Mental Health Association, the Broome County chapter of the American Red Cross and the Binghamton Zoo at Ross Park. His leadership excellence has been recognized state-wide, with a Volunteer Service Award from the New York State Governor’s Office and a citation for Outstanding Human Service from the New York State Assembly.
The Hall of Fame Committee would like to thank our very generous sponsors for their support of the 2017 Vestal Hall of Fame. Our Silver Sponsors this year were Coleman & Daniels Funeral Home, LLC; Copper Top Tavern; Core Life Eatery; Hogan, Sarzynski, Lynch, Dewind & Gregory, LLP; Brian K. Mather State Farm Insurance Agency; Tully’s; and Vestal Volunteer Fire Department. Bronze Sponsors included Barney & Dickenson, Inc.; BC Bicycles, Inc.; Feduke Ford, Inc.; Patrick Giannetto; Matthews Auto Group; MRD Liquor, LLC; Beverly Ochiai; Refabulous Furnishings; and Bob and Carla Warner.