Local Legends

More than 50 legendary locals and their descendants gathered at the Robert H. Jackson Center on Thursday evening for a reception in honor of Jane Currie and Kathleen Crocker, who have become notable in their own right.

Crocker and Currie, authors of “Legendary Locals of The Chautauqua Lake Region,” met with area residents for two reasons: to discuss the process they employed to complete the major Arcadia Publishing book project and to bring the legends together under one roof.

“We’re just so delighted that the community wants to honor these people as well,” Currie said. “This is about the people in the book, and their descendants.”

“We’re thrilled – these people have become our family,” Crocker added. “For the reception to be held in this most prestigious building is an honor.”

Another reason the event was held was so that Randy Sweeney, executive director of the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation, could get every legend’s autograph in the book, he said.

“We’re having everyone sign one book for the foundation, and they’re also encouraged to go around and ask others to sign their books too,” Sweeney said. “These are individuals in our community that have made a difference, not only today, but certainly have also brought us as a community to where we are today – leaders from the past and the present.”

According to Sweeney, the idea for the event stemmed from a meeting of a minds held a few months ago that was met with major success.

“We invited several of the new leaders in our community here, and allowed the public to come in and meet them,” Sweeney said. “The concept was so well accepted that we thought we would try something again. So, we thought this Christmas timeframe might be fun to have Jane and Kathleen come in. But, not just to have them meet the public, but also invite everyone we could find from the book who was living, was a relative or could represent an organization. It looks like we have a good representation tonight, and people seem to be having fun.”

Dr. Lillian Vitanza Ney, who is one of the legendary locals featured in Currie and Crocker’s book, attended the event at the Jackson Center to celebrate the hard work of everyone involved in the project, she said. Ney brought some of her descendants to the event, including her daughter, Aubin Ney Gren, and granddaughter, Allie Gren,

“I think it’s a wonderful thing that the community foundation did, not only to honor the authors, but the folks who are in the book – for me, it’s a huge honor to even be in the book,” Ney said. “It’s really nice to get all of these folks in one place. Could you imagine the synergy and energy if they all worked together for the betterment of society? Connections are everything, and the collaborations that may come from this are probably going to be very meaningful for the community going forward.”

“Legendary Locals of The Chautauqua Lake Region” represents a variety of notable people from the region, including: Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz; Bradley Anderson; Frederick Law Olmstead; Jim Roselle, Arthur A. Bestor; Charlotte Lenhart Johnston; Elizabeth Warner Marvin; Roger Tory Peterson; Robert H. Jackson; Reuben Eaton Fenton; Natalie Merchant; Russell E. Diethrick Jr.; Samuel Paladino; Reginald Lenna; Ronald Graham; Joseph Gerace; Johnathan O’Brian; Allen E. Peterson; and many others.

Crocker and Currie are also the authors of four other books about Chautauqua County, which were published by Arcadia Publishing as part of the “Images of America” series. Those books include: “Chautauqua Institution, 1874-1974;” “Chautauqua Lake Region;” “Jamestown;” and “Westfield.”

For more information, visit www.arcadiapublishing.com or search for “Books by Kathleen Crocker and Jane Currie” on Facebook.