John C. Dwyer, center, receives the 2015 Health and Humanitarian Award of Genesee County from David Ciurzynski, vice president of the United Memorial Medical Center Foundation, left, and Justin Calarco-Smith, president of The Jerome Foundation. The two groups sponsor the annual award, which was presented to Dwyer during a luncheon Friday at Terry Hills Restaurant in Batavia.
The afternoon began with an “Irish Blessing” and ended with a rousing performance of the University of Notre Dame’s fight song.
Appropriate choices, given the honoree.
John C. Dwyer received the 2015 Health and Humanitarian Award of Genesee County during a luncheon Friday at Terry Hills Restaurant.
Dwyer is the 31st recipient of the award, which is presented each year by The Jerome Foundation and the United Memorial Medical Center Foundation.
In choosing Dwyer, the foundations recognized his 60 years of volunteer efforts on behalf of more than 30 community organizations involved in nearly every aspect of life in Genesee County.
Mary Pat Hancock, former chair of the county Legislature, spoke in tribute to Dwyer. The Health and Humanitarian Award, she said, is a “perfect recognition” of his contributions.
“He has worked joyfully throughout his long and productive life, to enhance the health and human condition of our county,” she said.
Dwyer accepted the award with humility and humor.
“To be honest, I almost didn’t show up here today,” Dwyer said.
For that, credit Saint Matthew.
“I was at Mass some time ago,” Dwyer explained, “and the Gospel reading stated: Take care not to perform righteous acts in order that people may see them, or otherwise you will have no recompense from your Heavenly Father.”
Dwyer said that sounded like a warning.
“Here I am, in public, being recognized for my acts,” he joked. “And at my age, this is no time to be testing the patience of the Lord!”
The Health and Humanitarian Award recognizes volunteers who have helped promote the emotional, physical and spiritual well-being of Genesee County residents.
Dwyer has given time and talent to several organizations, including the Genesee County Water Resources Agency, Children’s Home Foundation, Boy Scouts of America, Batavia Lions Club and the Chamber of Commerce. He has served in leadership roles at St. Joseph School, Notre Dame High School and Genesee Community College.
A native of Batavia, Dwyer went west as a young man — to the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Commerce and met his future wife, Jacquie.
Dwyer served two years in the Army before returning to Batavia and his family’s business. He was president of Thomas & Dwyer Shoes until retiring in 1997.
He later served as director of the Genesee County Industrial Development Agency.
Dwyer said he found community service deeply intriguing, although he was at a loss to explain why.
“I don’t really know the draw,” Dwyer said. “But I was fascinated by the process, by the committees, the boards — how people worked, how people got things done.
“I loved the process,” he continued. “I loved the personalities involved, and I truly loved the results.”
The nature of public service has changed, he said, and tends to be steered more by government than volunteers. In closing, he said one thing has not changed — volunteer service is still valuable and necessary.
Reflecting Dwyer’s devotion to Notre Dame — both high school and university — the “Fighting Irish” was a theme for the day. That ranged from the chocolate shamrocks at every place setting, to the musical entertainment.
“The Irish Blessing” and University of Notre Dame’s “Victory March” were sung by a quartet from Notre Dame High School. Anthony Gugino, Matthew Stevens, Jessica Cmor and Keara Zerillo were accompanied by Theresa Kehl, school musical director.
Norman Argulski delivered the invocation, which thanked Dwyer for “his many talents, his appropriate words, his years of service and his dedication to our community.”