An impressive, life-sized heron is mounted in mid-flight in the foyer of Winn-Seeley gymnasium, home of the William Smith Herons. Meticulously detailed, the heron is shades of blue, grey and pink. It is a gift from alumnus William F. Guardenier ’66, who commissioned it as a gift to William Smith Athletics. It was dedicated in November of 2008 for the Centennial of William Smith College.
“I thought it would be useful to donate something that recognizes the accomplishments of William Smith Athletics,” says Guardenier.
William Smith Athletics Director Deb Steward, says she was, of course, thrilled and thankful to receive the heron carving. The piece was made entirely by hand of native white cedar or white pine by wood carver Jonathon Boudall of Burlington Flats, N.Y., who Guardenier describes as an interesting character who creates phenomenal pieces.
“We are very thankful for the heron carving donated by Bill, it is an amazing piece of artwork that demonstrates the strength, grace and character of a William Smith Heron,” says Steward.
“As a student and now as an alumnus Bill Guardenier has remained connected to both Hobart and William Smith,” says Robert Flowers, vice president for student affairs. “He’s remained involved with the Kappa Alpha Society, as well as with William Smith athletics, and this wonderful gift is a lasting testament to his promotion of and love of these Colleges.”
In 1981, the school’s nickname changed from “Smithies” to “Herons,” to avoid confusion with Smith College. A campus-wide contest to determine a mascot for William Smith College ensued. The heron selected itself, in a way, when one took off from Odell’s Pond and flew over the field during the William Smith field hockey team’s practice. The team was convinced that the Heron and William Smith were irrevocably linked. After that field hockey practice, two players, Mary Stowell Nelson ’82 and Ginger Adams Simon ’83, entered the campus-wide contest which included more than 175 proposals.
On Nov. 8, 2008 during the William Smith Centennial Celebration, the Heron Society Board of Directors and the William Smith College Department of Athletics presented the Heron Award to Stowell Nelson and Adams Simon in recognition of their commitment to William Smith athletics.
Guardenier’s gift is a permanent manifestation of that inspirational bird and the many accomplished women who have soared academically and athletically in its name.
An economics major, Guardenier participated in soccer, lacrosse and Echo and Pine. He also took a leadership role in his fraternity, Kappa Alpha as pledge master and house manager.