The Pavilion Hall of Fame inducted three new members on Friday: Jack McGee, a veteran of WWII, Diane Davis Torcello, a banker and community activist, and TJ Majors, a NASCAR spotter.
The family of McGee received a U.S. flag, which had been flown over the Pentagon. Torcello shared stories of her work and volunteer contributions. Majors was unable to attend because of a NASCAR race the next day, but a video showing him work was shared with the audience, which included students from sixth through 12th grade.
The Pavilion Central School Alumni Hall of Fame was established in 2013. It recognizes outstanding PCS alumni who have achieved distinction in their lives and chosen fields after high school through significant contributions to their career, community, or through personal achievements, providing incentives for current and future students.
Below, are biographies provided by the Hall of Fame committee:
TJ Majors was born in Pennsylvania but grew up in East Bethany and attended Pavilion schools, graduating in 1999. He developed an interest in racing at a young age as both his father and grandfather had successful racing careers in Pennsylvania. By the time he was in high school he became very involved in online racing. He was very successful and competed at a high level. During this time, he met aspiring NASCAR racer Dale Earnhardt Jr. The two chatted online, and this led to a friendship. During final exams in his senior year, Dale Jr. was scheduled to do a test at Watkins Glen racetrack, so he invited TJ to come down and watch the test. The test was during final exams in June, so after taking a morning exam, TJ headed to Watkins Glen and spent the day with Dale, Jr. TJ was disappointed a few days later, when he missed the Watkins Glen race, which Dale Jr. won, in order to attend his Pavilion High School graduation!
The two developed a friendship and when TJ mentioned that he wanted to try to go racing for real, Dale helped him purchase a Cups Light car, which he raced in Western New York and Ontario, Canada. After a couple of years of racing in that series, TJ decided to move to North Carolina. Dale and another friend made the trip to Pavilion to gather TJ and his belongings and move him to the south. TJ’s friendship with Dale Jr. continued to grow, and after working for a few race teams, in 2007 TJ became Dale Jr.’s spotter.
In NASCAR racing, the spotter has a very important job. They are usually situated on the roof of the grandstand and are continuously on the radio with the driver to tell them where all the cars are around them. They are racing at up to 200 miles per hour in vehicles with very limited visibility. A spotter is probably the third most important person on a NASCAR team, behind the driver and the crew chief. The position would be comparable to being an Offensive or Defensive Coordinator on an NFL team. TJ has the skill, confidence, patience, and concentration necessary to keep his driver out of trouble for a 3 to 4-hour race. One mistake by him, and his driver, as well as many others, could end up in a wreck.
TJ continued as a spotter until Dale Jr.’s retirement in 2017 winning 9 races including the Daytona 500 together. For the 2018 season, TJ was hired by Penske Racing to be the spotter for Joey Logano. Over the next four years, they won 9 races and the 2019 NASCAR Championship. For the 2022 Season, TJ has moved to the RFK Racing Team and is spotting for another of his best friends, Brad Keslowski. He also spots for NASCAR’s Truck Series driver Hailie Deegan and in the Xfinity driver Brandon Brown.
TJ is considered one of, if not the best spotter in the business, and it is rare that he is not mentioned at least once in a NASCAR race broadcast. Over the years, he also spotted for several other drivers in various series including Danica Patrick.
In addition to his work as a spotter, TJ hosts one of the top-rated NASCAR podcasts called “Door, Bumper, Clear”. It is part of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Dirty Mo Media, and usually airs on the Monday after a race. TJ periodically refers to his roots in Pavilion and remains a die-hard Buffalo Bills fan.
PFC Jack McGee
Born in 1921, Jack, along with his parents and six siblings, moved from Perry, NY to Pearl Creek in 1931. He attended Covington Center School until it closed in 1938 and consolidated with Pavilion Central School, from which Jack graduated in 1940.
Jack was an active student throughout junior and senior high. He excelled academically, regularly making the honor roll. During high school, he was a member of the student council, participated in the drama club and ran track. Jack was a member of the Future Farmers of America and worked at several area family farms while attending school. His senior photo in the high school year book read “I am slow of study but quick at play.” Jack’s name on the honor roll, however, suggests that he may have been too modest about his academic abilities.
After working a short time in Buffalo, Jack was inducted into the Army in 1943. Upon completing infantry training, he was sent to France in June 1944. There, he was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 157th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division, the legendary “Thunderbirds”, with whom he served as a machine gunner. The exploits of the 3rd Battalion are chronicled in the book “The Liberator,” which later became a popular television mini-series.
Jack’s unit courageously fought the German Nazis in central France and southern Germany through 1944 and 1945. In January 1945, during a period of record low temperatures, his unit fought a major battle with an elite German SS Division in northeastern France. Known as “Operation Nordwind,” it marked the final major offensive of Hitler’s army.
On Sunday, April 29, 1945, Jack’s battalion liberated 32,000 internees from the first and most infamous of Hitler’s Concentration Camps in Dachau, Germany. Among those freed were a physician named Dr. Walter Heumann and his wife. The Heumanns eventually made their way to the United States and settled in Pavilion. In a world of totally unexpected connections, Dr. Heumann opened his practice on Rt. 63 -- directly across from the school.
Unknown to Jack at the time, he had returned the favor of his PCS education by liberating an imprisoned doctor who would one day administer the annual physical to thousands of PCS students. Out of all the medical exams he gave, there's no telling how many potentially life-threatening conditions “Doc” Heumannn may have detected and helped to resolve.
Unfortunately, Jack never returned to see how his service had so directly affected his own hometown. In May 1945, shortly after the war in Europe ended, Jack was killed in an accident while still on duty in Germany. PFC Jack McGee is buried in the American Battlefield Cemetery in Lorraine, France along with ten thousand other, brave soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who died in Europe during WWII. His combat awards include the prestigious Combat Infantry Badge and Bronze Star Medal.
Honoring PFC Jack McGee is a tribute to every courageous PCS alumnus who has ever served, or will one day do so. Jack's admission to the PCS Hall of Fame is a symbol of honor, bravery, and sacrifice -- attributes that make members of the PCS community proud.
Diane Davis Torcello
Diane D. Torcello is Senior Vice President of Community Banking for Western New York at Tompkins Community Bank, a role she has held since 2013. Diane’s primary focus is the management of the retail sector of the bank, developing operational procedures to ensure proper compliance, coordinating operations with related management functions, and overseeing the Bank’s 16 branches spread throughout Western New York. She resides in Pavilion with her husband, Ralph. They have two sons, two daughters in law, and three granddaughters.
Diane has more than thirty years of banking experience. Before being appointed to her current role at Tompkins, Diane was a Branch Manager for the market’s largest branch. Prior to that, she held the positions of Regional and Branch Manager for Wyoming County Bank and The Pavilion State Bank, as well as serving as a Commercial and Mortgage lender. She attended GCC, the Pennsylvania Banking Association School of Commercial Lending, The New York State Banker’s Consumer Lending School, and many other banking programs.
Diane is a proud Pavilion Central School graduate from the Class of 1980. While in high school she was class Vice President, a field hockey Genesee Region All-star, a cheerleading Section 5 Champion, and was involved in various student activities such as band, yearbook, and the school play. Through these activities, Diane built the leadership skills she utilizes in her career today, empowering others and leading by example.
As an adult, Diane has been very active in the community. Though Diane believes that her family, friends, and career are at the core of her success, she also considers her volunteerism to be one of her most significant personal accomplishments. Some of the things she has been involved in are Parish Finance Committee, Religious Education, Children’ Home Committee, United Way, and the Genesee County Business Development Committee. She is especially proud of her 14 years as a member of the Board of Trustees at Genesee Community College, two of those years serving as Chair. Her personal passion for education and professional development led her to chair the Presidential search committee to replace a long tenured president of the college. She worked towards making GCC a welcoming place for traditional and nontraditional students and a place that provides state of the art facilities for community use.
A true team-player, Diane considers her most significant professional accomplishment to be her role in the professional development of others within Tompkins. Diane makes a conscious and consistent effort to ensure that she is mentoring others to help them reach their best professional potential. She feels the most pride at work when she can replace herself in a role with someone that she has mentored.
Diane’s efforts to better the community she cares about have not gone unnoticed. She was a 2016 Women in Business Award winner from the Batavia Daily News, a 2014 New York Community College Trustee’s Donald M Mawhinney Trustee Leadership Award recipient, and a 2000 40 Under 40 Buffalo Business Award winner from Buffalo Business First and has received many banking awards.
Diane feels the excellent education she received during her years at PCS provided the foundation for her success. The faculty and staff served as role models and taught important lessons on how to be a productive and caring member of the community.