Longtime community activist Catherine Roth was honored today in a dedication of a new polished granite bench in the Batavia Cemetery.
Roth, 95, and now living in Albany, wasn't able to attend, but Richard Beatty, a member of the board of directors of the Landmark Society of Genesee County, said her presence is still felt in the community.
She wasn't, however, as sometimes misstated, the founder of the Landmark Society. That was Sally Osborne. Roth was, though, a founding board member and served on the board for decades and for many years she was board president.
She was instrumental in saving the St. James Rectory and the Engine House. She also played a key role in getting published the book "Architectural History of Genesee County."
Her other community endeavors included serving on the City Council, the Holland Land Office Museum Board, Girl Scouts, and the YMCA board.
The bench sits on the edge of an arboretum created as a memorial to her son James and overlooks the obelisk of Joseph Ellicott. The project started with an anonymous donation to create something that would honor Roth and the Landmark board came up with the idea for the bench and completed the project.
Lucine Kauffman, a former Landmark board member, said she spoke with Roth this morning and asked if Roth had any words of wisdom to share, and Roth said, "I just wish I could be there to sit on it."
Beatty, who has only been on the Landmark board for two years, said he's heard Roth described as a "force of nature."
"Her name has come up many times, usually along the lines of ‘What would Catherine do?’ " Beatty said. "I got the impression that what Catherine wanted, Catherine got. I’ve learned from those who know her well that her desire to get things done is infectious and she brought many people together to help her achieve her goals. Catherine is the type of person every community needs to thrive.”