HANNAWA FALLS – Dr. Richard G. Hutchinson, 92, passed away Sunday morning, July 21, 2019 at Canton-Potsdam Hospital after a brief illness.
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Richard was born on May 7, 1927 in Malone, the son of the late George and Elisabeth (Smith) Hutchinson and grew up in North Lawrence. He graduated from Olean High School and achieved his Bachelor of Science from Mansfield State University in Pennsylvania. He later attended Vanderbilt University, where he achieved his Master of Arts in History and was awarded his Doctor of Education at Penn State University with scholarships at Santa Clara and San Jose Universities in California and the University of Buffalo. He was also one of 25 US teachers to be awarded by the US Department of Education for a semester of study in India where he learned Indian customs, villages, and was able to interview Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. In addition, he proudly served his country in the United States Navy during World War II, having served on the aircraft carrier USS Princeton.
Dr. Hutchinson enjoyed a long career in education. In his early years of education, he taught History and English for 3 years in Oakfield, New York and 17 years in Springville, New York. He also served as the Faculty President in Springville and was instrumental in originating of NYSUT in that school. He founded a Springville High School American History Honors Program that included a field trip to Williamsburg, Virginia, plus Civil War Battlefields at Antietam and Gettysburg. In 1971, he was named Director of Region VI Teacher Education Center, in West Virginia, which allowed him to coordinate in service programs for public schools in three counties plus three colleges (Wheeling, Bethany, and West Liberty State). In 1974, Dr. Hutchinson started at SUNY Potsdam as the Director of Student Teaching and Certification and later added 10 years of duty as the Director of the North Country School Study Council, covering St. Lawrence, Franklin, Jefferson, and Lewis counties plus three more in Canada. He founded SUNY Potsdam student teaching program in England in 1983 and eventually received a citation from the Lord Mayor of Lincoln, England, as an Honorary Resident of that city.
Richard had a great love for drama and musical theater as he founded the Community Musical and Springville Players in Springville. In those capacities, he directed, produced and often acted in 12 Broadway musicals which included The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, Carousel, and Camelot, to name few, plus over 20 dramas and comedies. He loved playing villains such as the Captain in Mr. Roberts. While in West Virginia, he also played major guest roles at West Liberty State in Man of La Mancha and Hedda Gabler. He was also an active member of the choir in Methodist and Presbyterian Churches in all of his various locations ranging from North Lawrence to Allegany, Olean, Oakfield, and Springville, then to South Carolina and finally to Potsdam. In Potsdam, he was also an officer at varying times in both the First Presbyterian Church as an Elder and member of Session and at the Potsdam United Methodist Church as Chairman of the Church Council. In addition, he served on the Board of the Potsdam Town and Country Club.
On April 12, 1952, he married Joyce Seaburg of Oakfield, New York. They were blessed with three children and many joyful years in Oakfield, Springville, and Potsdam before she predeceased him on August 8, 2003. She was a much beloved teacher assistant in the SUNY Potsdam Campus School.
He married Sharon Conley Pierce, a former Executive Secretary at Ford Motor Company in Louisville, Kentucky, on October 1, 2005 in Bluffton, South Carolina. She is a noted choreographer and dancer in Louisville and former contestant for Miss Kentucky. They lived in Bluffton, South Carolina before moving to Potsdam and eventually to Hannawa Falls, New York. They enjoyed their honeymoon trip to Venice and Rome, plus numerous trips to Williamsburg and Charlottesville, Virginia and many Civil War Battlefields. He was a longtime member of the Adirondack Council, Civil War Trust, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Audobon Society, SPCA, The Humane Society of the United States, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Historical Societies of both St. Lawrence and Franklin Counties. He was also a 28-year member and Past Secretary of the Potsdam Elks Lodge #2074.
Richard loved his life, the people in it, his family, and especially (as he puts it) his two wives who had to put up with him. Of earthly honors, he was particularly proud of an award given to him in 2007 by his Alma Mater in Mansfield, Pennsylvania. It was the “Distinguished Educator Award” give to only one alumnus per year and it included a permanent entrance into Mansfield’s “Society of Honors.”
Dr. Hutchinson is survived by his wife, Sharon; his children, Debra Baker of Colden, New York; Lee Hutchinson of Scotia, New York; and Bonnie Lehmann of Wellington, Florida; 8 grandchildren and one great grandchild; and his former son and daughter-in-laws, James Baker of Hamburg, New York; Bethanne Hutchinson of Scotia, New York; and John Lehmann of West Palm Beach, Florida.
Friends are invited to join his family at a Service of Celebration and Remembrance on September 7, 2019, 11:00 AM at the Potsdam United Methodist Church with Pastor Eilene Susan Wenner, officiating. His family will greet guests prior to the service starting at 10:00 AM.
Memorial contributions in his memory may be made to Hospice and Palliative Care of St. Lawrence Valley.