by David Prenatt
November 28, 2019
Swanson, Russell To Be Installed In Wall Of Fame
Melford C. Swanson and Gerald W. Russell will be honored at this year’s Wall of Fame dinner at Webb’s Captains Table on Saturday, Dec. 14, at 6 p.m.
The annual induction ceremony continues the Sherman tradition of recognizing the influence of particular alumni on the community, the school district or society in general.
Swanson was a coach at Sherman Central School for nearly 40 years. He achieved 607 career victories, directing hundreds of hard-working girls in the Sherman girls’ varsity basketball program. That achievement places Swanson third on the state’s all-time list, according to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association, and first in Western New York in boys’ or girls’ varsity basketball wins.
A 1972 Panama Central School graduate, Swanson went on to JCC and SUNY Fredonia, receiving his bachelor’s degree in 1977. He was hired in that year as a fourth-grade teacher and JV football coach at Sherman.
Swanson served as Sherman’s Athletic Director from 1998 to 2017. At various times throughout his years at Sherman, he also coached boys’ JV football, boys’ junior high, JV and varsity basketball, girls’ junior high, JV, and varsity basketball, boys’ varsity baseball, and varsity golf.
Swanson has been married to wife, Mary, for 45 years. They have three sons, two daughters and nine grandchildren, many of whom live in the area.
Russell, who was born in 1928, is a fourth-generation, life-long Sherman resident. He graduated from Sherman Central School in 1946, and served in the United States Army from 1948 to 1951, serving both in Korea and Japan.
Russell returned to Sherman in 1951 and began a career in banking which spanned more than 40 years. Russell is a member of the Community Church, Olive Masonic Lodge No. 575, and a 20-year member of the Sherman Town Board, on which he is currently serving. He also served on the Sherman Village Board, and currently serves on the Sherman Central School Internal Audit Committee.
In 1952, while Russell was establishing himself as a banker, his mother, Elgie Babcock Russell, introduced him to the Sherman home economics teacher, Mary Louise Murty. They married in 1953 and made a lifetime practice of “paying it forward,” a practice which they instilled in their four daughters.
Each year, board of education members, school faculty and staff, family members and friends of the inductees, as well as many community members attend the annual ceremony to pay tribute to those being honored.
The Sherman School Board established the Wall of Fame to honor individuals who have a direct connection to the district and have made significant contributions to the school district and/or the community. The board established guidelines for this honor during the 2008-09 school year.
The concept of the Wall of Fame, in which honorees’ plaques are posted on a wall, began in U.S. secondary schools in the late 20th century, as administrators and alumni realized that many of their institutions’ graduates deserved recognition for their accomplishments. Many high schools across the country established Walls of Fame in conjunction with their centennial, sesquicentennial or bicentennial celebrations.