Monday, 24 July 2017 14:17

'Be Like Ruth Sayer Campaign' Begins in Honor of Local Community Activist

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'Be Like Ruth Sayer Campaign' Begins in Honor of Local Community Activist Supplied photo

Oswego’s historic, educational and cultural organizations have benefitted from the energy, enthusiasm and leadership of Ruth Sayer for 70 years.

When she was 30 years old, Sayer came to Oswego from North Carolina to teach at the SUNY Oswego Campus School. In Oswego, she met and married Frank Sayer and together they immersed themselves in the life of the community lending their time, talent, and leadership to many of the city’s non-profit organizations.

Ruth Sayer immediately recognized Oswego’s historic importance and dedicated herself to its preservation. Whether serving as member, chair, president, or volunteer, her impact on her adopted city is awe-inspiring.

“Ruth’s impact on the H. Lee White Maritime Museum, and her continued support of the museum, is hard to fully measure,” says Executive Director Mercedes Niess.

That sentiment is echoed by Justin White, president of the Oswego County Historical Society. “Ruth’s energy, dedication and institutional memory has been so valuable to our work. We need more people like Ruth Sayer. We all need to be like Ruth.”

To celebrate Ruth’s many contributions, Niess and White will launch the “Be Like Ruth Sayer Campaign: A summer of service” beginning July 10 and continuing throughout the summer.

“Ruth is one of Oswego’s most distinguished citizens,” says Oswego Mayor William J. Barlow. “She is a family woman who exemplifies all the qualities of a life well lived. She and her late husband Frank are a stellar example of civic pride and participation that extends far beyond their own endeavors and is shared and appreciated by a grateful community.  The Be Like Ruth Sayer Campaign is designed to encourage folks in the Oswego community to get involved, contribute, give back and volunteer in your community to make Oswego a better place for all. “ 

Participating organizations include the H. Lee White Maritime Museum, the Oswego County Historical Society and Richardson-Bates House Museum, the Heritage Foundation of Oswego, the Oswego Public Library, Friends of Hospice, Riverside Cemetery, and the Philanthropic Educational Organization.

Each organization has created a wish list of specific ways members of the Oswego community can participate, follow Ruth’s lead, and “Be Like Ruth.” These include, for example, volunteering to help paint the Boating Center buildings at the Maritime Museum, or helping to create a historically accurate rose garden at the Richardson-Bates House Museum.

Those inspired by Ruth Sayer’s 70-year legacy of community involvement can contribute to the campaign by donation of time, talent, materials or monetary contributions.

Citizens who want to “Be Like Ruth” are encouraged to contact the participating organizations for more detail. Participants should email or call the organizations directly for more information.

To “be like Ruth”, select one or more civic organizations listed here and help with their wish lists.


1 West First Street

Oswego, NY 13126

Contact: Mercedes Niess

[email protected]


Wish list:

  • Volunteers to paint Museum’s Boating Center buildings, white with blue trim

  • Re-roofing or donated roof shingles for Museum’s Boating Center buildings

  • Tree removal at Museum’s Boating Center and removal of brush

  • Painting of Buoys by Derrick Boat 8


120 East Second Street

Oswego, NY 13126

Contact: Kathy Mantaro

[email protected]


Wish list:

  • Donate a 3D Printer and supplies needed for a new program

  • Plant and maintain Library gardens

  • A volunteer with experience organizing, setting up and helping to plan a used book sale to assist our AmeriCorps person this over the summer


156 West Second Street

Oswego, NY 13126

Contact: George Koenig

[email protected]

Phone: 315-343-6791

Wish list:

  • Redesign and publish Historic Walking Tours & create an app for the Walking Tours

  • Help establish a historic district in the City of Fulton

  • Historic Plaque Project- Help with contacting residents of Franklin Square and Kingsford Park Historic Districts to identify houses in need of a historic plaque.

  • Assist with a WWI Monument Restoration Project


135 East Third Street

Oswego, NY 13126

Contact: Justin White

[email protected]

Phone: 315-343-1342

Wish list:

Beautification Projects of the Exterior Landscape, to Include:

  • Restoration and Planting of the Bates family rose garden as memorial garden

  • Restoration of the 19th century octagonal shed and its conical roof

  • Restoration of early 20th century brick garage along with new fence on property border

  • Restoration of limestone retaining wall surrounding the property


34 East Bridge Street #202

Oswego, NY 13126

Contact: Debbie Bishop, Executive Director

[email protected]

Phone: 315-343-5223
Wish list:

Become a Hospice volunteer to:

  • Provide family and patient support 

  • Assist the Friends of Oswego County Hospice with fundraising events, office help and Camp Rainbow of Hope


4024 County Route 57

Oswego, NY 13126

Contact: Chris Gagas, President

Phone: 315-343-7691 (office)

Wish list:

  • Page Memorial Chapel - installing restroom facilities in the tower to enable Riverside to extend to the community the chapel facilities for other functions, for example for weddings

  • Tree Projects - to continue to remove a number (over 40) dead trees, and to plant new trees to replace those removed. 


Contact: Lee Audlin, President

[email protected]

Phone: 315-343-7602

P.E.O. promotes educational opportunities for women through a variety of philanthropies that include scholarships, grants, awards and loans. To learn more about this dedicated group, contact Lee Audlin, President.

Wish list:

Support for its upcoming fundraisers at the west side McDonald’s Restaurant:

  • August 9 from 5 to 8 p.m.

  • November 8 from 5 to 8 p.m.

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