In honor of Professor of Education Emeritus Edward Cuony, who passed away on May 22, the American flag on the HWS campus was flown at half-mast on Tuesday, May 25, the day a mass of Christian burial also was held, in St. Francis de Sales Church in Geneva. Cuony was buried with Full Military Honors in St. Mary’s Cemetery.
Cuony received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1937 from Syracuse University and went on to earn his master’s and Ph.D. from New York University where he specialized in child psychology and human development. For nearly 30 years he had a successful career as a teacher, coach, counselor and administrator in the Geneva City School district, a career interrupted by World War II where he served in the U. S. Coast Guard and commanded combat vessels in the Caribbean, Atlantic and South Pacific theaters of operation.
In 1966, after retiring from the Geneva City School system, Cuony came to Hobart and William Smith as the head of the department of education, a position he held until his retirement in 1981. In 15 years at HWS, Cuony shaped the program the Colleges have today, one based on a combination of scholarly studies and experiential learning. Cuony believed that teachers should encourage students to think for themselves, that they promote tolerance for respect and difference, and that they understand the research behind educational practices. It is because of his vision, diligence and advocacy that the Colleges adopted its teacher certification program. As his colleague Professor Emeritus of Education John Burns recently wrote, Cuony believed that: “…Hobart and William Smith had a moral responsibility to make a contribution to the public education of young children and that we had the resources to do so.”
In 1976, Hobart and William Smith honored Cuony with the Outstanding Teacher Award. On his retirement, a classroom in Merritt Hall was dedicated to him with the inscription over the door reading: “Teacher of Teachers.”
As a founding member of Geneva Scholarship Association (GSA), which provides support to academically and financially deserving students from Geneva High School or DeSales High School so that they may attend Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Cuony has made it possible for more than 150 Geneva students to attend HWS. In 2008, on the GSA’s 40th anniversary, Cuony received the President’s Medal in recognition of his important work on behalf of the children of our region and for his vision in creating the GSA.
“A beloved educator and community member, Dr. Cuony epitomized the notion that one person – through generosity of spirit, hard work and a belief in the power of education – can make a difference in the lives of others,” says President Mark D. Gearan.
Cuony is predeceased by his wife, Geraldyn Brennan Cuony ’33, a longtime teacher in the Geneva School District. Memorial contributions may be made to the Ed and Gerry Cuony Scholarships at Five Star Bank, 2 Seneca St., Geneva, NY 14456.
The Finger Lakes Times also ran an article about Cuony. The full text follows.
Finger Lakes Times
Beloved educator leaves lasting legacy
Former students established a scholarship in the Cuony’s names in 2004
David L. Shaw •May 25, 2010
GENEVA — To Robert DeSio, Edward “Butch” Cuony was “one of the finest human beings” he has ever met.
For Dominick Vistocco, he was a person who had a lasting influence on his life.
Their sentiments are typical of the tributes pouring in for Cuony, a legendary Genevan who died Saturday at age 94.
“Dr. Cuony was a teacher, mentor and wonderful human being [whom] I have known for more than 72 years since he first arrived to teach at Geneva High School, where I took German and social studies from him,” DeSio wrote.
DeSio, a member of the Class of 1942, said he has never called his former teacher Ed or Butch, but always “Dr. Cuony.”
“It’s respect he truly deserves. I was fortunate to visit Geneva on the day he died and saw him shortly before he died,” DeSio said.
On the Ed and Gerry Cuony Scholarship Web site, Cuony is described as a “role model, a mentor and in many respects, the father we wished we had, truly a man who had great impact on our lives and careers. Above all, he was and is, a friend.”
A New York City native, Cuony attended Kearny High School in New Jersey where he was a standout in football, wrestling and track. He earned a football scholarship to Syracuse University, where he graduated in 1937.
While at SU, he played tackle on the football team and was also on the wrestling team.
He earned his masters and doctoral degrees from New York University and came to Geneva to work in the school district as a teacher, guidance counselor and principal.
He married the late Gerry Brennan, a DeSales High and William Smith College graduate, who taught in the Geneva school for 40 years.
From 1941 to 1946, he served in the Coast Guard, commanding his own ship and seeing combat in several war theaters during World War II. He enlisted in the Coast Guard in his late 20s because the other branches thought he was too old.
After the war, he returned to Geneva and resumed his educational and coaching career. After retiring in the early 1960s, he became a professor of education at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.
He was inducted into the Syracuse University and Geneva Sports Halls of Fame.
Brian Bell of Geneva graduated from GHS in 1953 and is now a political science professor at Finger Lakes Community College.
He played football for Cuony in 1951 and 1952 and planned to deliver the eulogy at today’s funeral service.
“I was a 16-year-old junior when Coach Cuony told me right before a game against Franklin High that I would be starting. I remember being very nervous, but coach calmed me down, and I did well,” he said.
That 1951 team was undefeated and almost unscored upon. Bell said there were no stars, but a group that Cuony molded into a team in every sense of the word.
“I remember one time getting hit low and getting the wind knocked out of me. I went to the sideline and told Coach I was hit below the belt,” Bell said.
“Coach Cuony just looked at me, giving me the silent message that I can either siit down or get through it and play,” Bell said.
“I got that message, and it helped me get through some terrifying times in Korea a few years later,” he said.
The Bells helped set up the Ed and Gerry Cuony Scholarship.
“He was a special person, the toughest man I ever knew,” Bell said.
His eulogy was in the form of a letter to “Dear Butch.”
In it, he recounts many of his cherished memories of Cuony, concluding with a toast: “In memory of you, representing the virtually hundreds, if not thousands of people whose lives you and Gerry have touched.”
“I know, Butch, that you are of the generation that real men don’t hug and say ‘I love you,’ but I am going to say this for all of us, ‘Goodbye, Butch. …We will miss you, we will never forget you and we will always love you.”’
Dominick “Tiger’&’ Vistocco, whose nickname was given to him by Cuony when he coached him to four state wrestling championships, came up from Rockland County for today’s funeral.
The retired physical therapist, also a member of the Class of 1953, was as close to a son as the childless Cuonys would have, Bell said.
“He was my football, wrestling and track coach, but it was wrestling where he coached me to the most success,” Vistocco said.
“I remember when I first went out for the team, after a few practices, he showed what a great motivator he was by saying if I stuck with him, I’d have a state shield in my pocket,” Vistocco said. “That’s exactly what happened, four times.”
Vistocco said Cuony coached him so well that he won a full scholarship to Ithaca College. Once there, Vistocco said, his college coach said he was so well coached that there was nothing he could teach him.
“He was demmanding, yet kind and understanding at the same time. He got a lot out of the boys he coached,” Vistocco said.
He said his earning of a degree in physical therapy, his going on to get a master’s degree at New York University and a long career as a physical therapist were largely due to Cuony, as well as his own efforts.
“We stayed close through the years. I came up here a month ago and visited with him twice. We had good conversations,” he said.
In 2004, a number of his former students established the Ed and Gerry Cuony Scholarship.
Since 2005, there have been 23 scholarships of $1,000 each awarded to young men and women from Geneva High, DeSales High and FLCC.
Cuony was active until he had a stroke in September 2008.
Honoring Coach Cuony
Funeral services were planned for this morning at St. Francis Church, with burial in St. Mary’s Cemetery with full military honors.
His friends planned to share their memories after the burial at a luncheon at Club 86.They will also plan a “Gathering in Celebration” of his life in the summer or early fall at a place and time to be determined.
Donations in his memory can be made to the Ed and Gerry Cuony Scholarship, Five Star Bank, 2 Seneca St., Geneva 14456.