Village of Le Roy leaders bid farewell to their longtime “go-to person” in grand fashion this afternoon with a surprise gathering of about 75 family, friends, colleagues and civic leaders at the Village Hall, followed by a police-led parade down Main Street to a reception featuring an appearance by Sen. Edward Rath at the Le Roy Country Club restaurant.
Coordinated by Village Mayor Greg Rogers with help from staff and volunteers, the community celebrated the career of Sharon Jeary, who worked for the village for 44 years, including the last 19 as clerk-treasurer.
Jeary, a Le Roy native (maiden name: O’Geen) and Notre Dame High School graduate, walked out of the front door of the office building shortly after noon and was greeted by Rogers, who showed her the Rose of Sharon tree that has been planted in her honor.
As she turned the corner toward the parking lot, that’s where she encountered a long line of well-wishers applauding loudly and ready to show their appreciation. As would be expected, her reaction was one of astonishment.
“I’m absolutely flabbergasted and so humbled by how wonderful everybody is. I love my village,” she said.
Jeary’s first day on the job – as an office assistant – was Nov. 28, 1977. She advanced to full time two years later and became the clerk-treasurer in 2002, following a 15-year stint as deputy village clerk.
After Jeary accepted hugs from everyone, the Rev. Jack Hempfling of Living Waters Church led a group prayer of blessing. Then everybody got into their cars and followed Police Chief Greg Kellogg's vehicle, other patrol cars, and fire department and emergency vehicles – with sirens and lights engaged -- to Le Roy Country Club for part two of the tribute.
It was there that Rath, representing the 61st Senate District, congratulated Jeary and presented her with a proclamation from the New York State Senate.
“In 1977, a gallon of gas was 62 cents and a gallon of milk was 13 cents,” Rath said. “So, ladies and gentlemen, a lot has changed since 1977 -- but not the commitment and the resolve and the hard work that Sharon Jeary had for the people of this wonderful community.”
Rath, reading from the proclamation, said that Jeary “rendered faithful and conscientious and valuable service to the community.”
“During her tenure as clerk-treasurer, Sharon earned the esteem and affection of her colleagues. She has demonstrated outstanding service and leadership in her beloved community. Throughout the years, she has had the love and support of her husband, David, and her two children, David and Mark.”
Genesee County Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein, a Le Roy resident, said Jeary made quite an impact “as evidenced today here by your friends, your family and your coworkers who have come to understand your commitment, your conscientious care of every single member of the boards that you’ve served, and more importantly, your community.”
She then presented Jeary with proclamations from Assemblyman Steven Hawley and the count legislature.
Then, jokingly, she added: “We will miss the work that you do, lovingly, on behalf of all of us, and wish you the absolute best in your retirement – and don’t stay home every day with David.”
Village Historian Lynne Belluscio used the occasion to have some fun with Jeary, bringing gifts from Historic Le Roy House, home of the Jell-O Gallery and Museum Shop.
After extending an invitation for Jeary to volunteer at the gallery – teaching visitors how to correctly pronounce Le Roy (leh-roy), she gave her boxes of the four original Jell-O flavors (strawberry, orange, lemon and raspberry), a T-shirt, license plate holders proclaiming, “Le Roy, NY – Birthplace of Jell-O” and two lemonade cans attached by a string.
“It’s always, 'call Sharon,' ” Belluscio said. “You got a question? 'Call Sharon.' 'I need a permit.' 'Call Sharon.' 'She’s at lunch; when can I get a hold of her?' 'Call Sharon.' So, I’m kind of concerned that you’re not up there … So, you and I are going to stay in contact …”
LeRoyan Kay “Pudge” Steen, clerk-treasurer prior to Jeary taking that position, related that in Jeary “I not only had a coworker, I had one of the best friends I have ever had.”
“I wish you nothing but lots of happiness and good health, and I love you.”
Rogers then presented Jeary with the “Key to the Village” plaque, and afforded the guest of honor a chance to address her fans before inviting everyone to the privately funded hors d’oeuvres and refreshments under a big tent.
“I couldn’t have done my job without the support of my family and my friends. Everybody was always there for me and I really appreciate it,” she said. "We have a wonderful village. I love my village; I truly do. Thank you all so much for coming.”
“To my mayors and boards of trustees, you we’re all great and I enjoyed working with them all. It never seemed like a job to me. I always enjoyed what I did. It has been great over these years.”
Photos at top: Sharon Jeary and Greg Rogers standing next to the Rose of Sharon tree that was planted in her honor; a sign at Le Roy Country Club restaurant recognizing Jeary's career. Photos at bottom: Rev. Jack Hempfling offering a prayer of blessing upon Jeary's retirement; Police Chief Greg Kellogg leads the parade to the golf course restaurant; Sen. Edward Rath presents a proclamation to the longtime village clerk-treasurer; Jeary holds the "Key to the Village" as Rogers looks on. Photos by Mike Pettinella.