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George DesMarteau: One - Make That Two - of a Kind

Photo of George DesMarteau, attorneyNot long before George DesMarteau was born, the new Rush-Henrietta Central School District opened its doors for the first time. That was 75 years ago.

Notably, George has served as Rush-Henrietta’s school attorney for more than half of its - and his - existence. This type of consistency and longevity is unheard of in today’s ever-changing world. With that dedication in mind, the Board of Education last year recognized George’s long-standing commitment to our school community.

George was appointed as Rush-Henrietta’s school attorney four decades ago. In 1982, he succeeded Robert Wendt. George describes his predecessor as a “remarkable gentleman” and a “scholarly man who was “one of the better legal minds of his generation in Rochester.”

Incredibly, the pair are the only two that have been in this important role on behalf of the district. For perspective, by the time George began his tenure, Ronald Reagan’s transformation from actor to governor to president was complete. The personal computer had been available for about five years. And much to George’s dismay, the VCR was proving to be more popular than his preferred Beta. 

So much has changed since then, but not George. He is a man of integrity and intelligence. He is the keeper of vast institutional knowledge that district leaders rely on often. George has served alongside more board members than we can count. He has worked with four different superintendents, each of whom approached their work as leaders with varied styles. Throughout it all, George has remained dependable, reliable, and knowledgeable.

Ed Lincoln, who served on the Board of Education from 2002 to 2010, recalls the importance of George’s contributions. “As a school board member, a seemingly constant state of change made the role challenging,” Lincoln says. “At the same time, it was deeply satisfying as we sought better outcomes for the students of Rush-Henrietta. In the face of constant change, George provided a stable grounding; a foundation based on his history with the district, his reasoned, legal counsel, and his sense of humor.”

George estimates he has taken part in more than 3,700 hours of board meetings. There is no telling how much time he spent supporting the district's efforts outside of those meetings. Rush-Henrietta will never be able to express its gratitude for his legal expertise, leadership, friendship, and ability to make us laugh when we needed it the most.

An example of George’s lighthearted nature is seen in a timeline he created to illustrate how his time in Rush-Henrietta coincided with well-known events. His entries for 1991, 1992, 1993, and 1994 include the same notation: “The Bills did not win the Super Bowl.”

Throughout the years, George rarely complained. However, he shared several times that the district doesn’t provide cookies at its meetings as it once  did. Those delicious treats now are considered a gift of public funds, so they had to go many years ago. That is ironic, because we believe he was the one who informed district leaders about this new rule back then.

Two attorneys. Seventy-five years. Thank you for your steadfast service and loyalty to our school community, George.