DANSVILLE — Many come to honor the legacy of a small-town, and the people that devote their entire lives to keeping it alive.
On Oct. 22 Dansville Central held their Third Annual Wall of Pride Ceremony at the American Legion.
This year’s inductees are Nicholas H. Noyes, Helen M. Pratt, Afshan (Affie) Qureshi, Dr. Sohail Qureshi, and Thomas J. Rauber, Sr.
Dansville Central Superintendent Dr. Paul Alioto said this ceremony has became more about friends and family.
“We come to remember the proud legacy in Dansville,” he said. “They show young people their own potential of greatness. These great role models call Dansville home. We have so many positive things in Dansville. This is about where we have been, who we are now, and what we will become. Our community is on the rebound and it feels great.”
Dansville Area Historical Society President Gerri Waight thanked the school for allowing the historical society to be part of these event every year.
Waight gave a story about what Dansville had always meant to the Noyes Family. Nicholas H.Noyes’ lists of accomplishments are immense, but the ones that remain dear to our hearts are the Noyes Hospital, Brae Burn, Clara Barton Chapter One, and the Dansville Public Library.
Noyes CEO Amy Pollard accepted the award, and said his legacy lives on at the hospital.
Helen M. Pratt was a force to be wreckin with in this world.
Pratt was one of a handful of women who got their law degree, and she used that to change the hearts and minds of people in the place she called home.
John Scura had the honor of working with Pratt for over 20 years, and his own daughter, Rachel, looked up to her so much she became a lawyer too.
“She joined her father in the office of Pratt and Pratt, but he died a month later,” Scura said. “She was only 22 years old at the time, but she became the most successful attorney in Livingston County. She never married or had any kids. She was the first female attorney.”
Scura didn’t know Pratt in her first 64 years, but he knew her in her last 30 years.
“I was fresh out of Vietnam and looking for a job,” he said. “I had a family to take care of. I worked with Helen at her law office.”
Scura went on the tell stories about how Pratt trusted him with cases even though he was unsure how to do them.
Pratt had a live well lived, Scura said as he honored the woman who helped him grow.
Cynthia Pierce told stories of what Affie Qureshi has done for her, and how their friendship has meant the world to her.
“Affie is the most incredible person I have ever met in my life,” she said. “It all started 20 years ago when we moved to Dansville. As time went on we became good friends. She wanted to bring her culture to small-town Dansville. She displayed local artists in her shop. We learned a lot from her.”
Qureshi thanked everyone for making her part of the Wall of Pride.
“My husband has joined me in serving this community,” she said. “When we went out the thing that attracted me the most was he had to break our date to make a house call to his patient. I thought if he is willing to check on his patient, imagine what he will do for his wife. I am glad I picked him, and Dansville, and we will never leave Dansville. It is a great pleasure to be in Dansville.”
James Gross and Pollard shared a story about how Dr. Sohail Qureshi saved a young man’s life in the early 1980s.
“Dr. Qureshi has been my friend and physician for 40 years,” Gross said. “We all love you, and you are a great man. He has been caring for Dansville for over 40 years. Military men and women have a special place in his heart. Affie’s husband was a gentleman before he was a physician.”
Dr. Qureshi has devoted his life to ensuring the care and health of the Dansville community.
Pollard said the young man fell in the Canaseraga Creek and was laying by the creek bed for 20 hours in the cold spring night before being found. With no signs of life he was brought into the emergency room.
“Dr. Qureshi had read how to revive people in a state of hypothermia,” she said. “We had to find a very large thermometer to tell his tempature. It was 68 degrees. Dr. Qureshi refused to give up and after two hours he came back to life. It would not have had the same outcome if Dr. Qureshi hadn’t of been there.”
Dr. Qureshi said he spent most of his life in Dansville.
“For me Dansville is home. This is the best place to be,” he said. “I really appreciate everyone here.”
John Adamski had the pleasure of standing in for Thomas Rauber, Sr. who has been a good friend for 10 years.
“He found the last pair of Bald Eagles in New York State in 1965, and he wanted to save them,” he said. “He took photos of them and researched them for years and years. He helped bring back the Bald Eagles to the country. There are now 323 pairs of Bald Eagles in New York State and 20,000 in the United States.”
Rauber had never been truly recognized for saving the Bald Eagles, but Adamski made that happen in 2010.
“He is my hero, and the unknown hero of the United States,” he said.
Colleen Rauber, Thomas’ daughter said he suffered a stroke in July, but he would love being honored this way.
“We knew two things about my father, that he had served in World War Two, and that he loved his eagles,” she said. “He would take the older kids onto Hemlock Lake and tell them not to move or talk as dad took his little notes.”
Rauber saw the beauty in those birds as he watched them. In 2015, after more than 37 years of research and devotion to these birds he published, “Bald Eagles Soar Again: One Man’s Quest to Prevent the Extinction of the Bald Eagles in the U.S.” His efforts show how a single person really can change the world.