Peekskill Museum 75th Anniversary: Fundraiser Spotlights a Favorite Son

Peekskill Museum President George Oros introduced George Pataki at the Museum’s benefit at the Factoria. Photo: Howard Copeland

Throughout 2021, the Peekskill Museum has been celebrating its 75th Anniversary via various programs and events.  On Oct. 20 a key event was held — a Cocktail Gala held at the Factoria honoring former Governor George E. Pataki.  Pataki is a former Mayor of Peekskill and past Vice President of the Peekskill Museum Board. 

Governor Pataki delivered remarks and fielded questions from the 100 attendees. He discussed why he recently penned a book entitled “Beyond the Great Divide: How a Nation Became a Neighborhood.” He remarked how united our country was immediately after the attack on September 11, 2001, only to become deeply divided 20 years later.   

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Pataki called out the role of politicians, the media and academia for furthering a lack of discourse and spreading the division in our nation. He lamented the lack of compromise and the failure to get anything meaningful accomplished in Washington. 

Pataki also recalled the difficult day of 9/11, and noted that, immediately, he and Mayor Rudolph Giuliani combined their staffs into one command center and coordinated all communication.  That type of cooperation was lacking during the Covid pandemic, he noted, where many days the current Mayor and recenty resigned Governor issued conflicting directives and information.  

In a light-hearted moment, Pataki reminisced about his boyhood days working on his family’s Peekskill farm and spoke how he also had worked in the Factoria building when it was the Fleischmann’s factory. One of his tasks was boxing small gin bottles for use on commercial airliners.  

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The former Governor signed copies of his books, which were sold to benefit Peekskill. Museum. 
Phot: Howard Copeland

Mr. Pataki’s presentation was part of the Peekskill Museum’s Calvert Schlick Lecture Series.The Gala was one in a series of events marking the Museum’s 75th anniversary. The year-long celebration began in January 2021 with the launch of a Building Fund Drive to raise money to repaint the exterior of the Halleck House, home of the Museum. The drive was kicked off by a generous contribution from past Museum President Cal Schlick.    

The 75th Gala raised $9,400 toward that cause, including a generous donation from the Lanza Family Foundation. Other anniversary year events included Black History Month, a Dramatic Reading, Peekskill Trivia Night, Rededication of the Historic Cannon, 9/11 photograph display and a Victorian Tea Party. 

George Oros is President of Peekskill Museum and a business consultant. He was Chief of Staff for past Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, and served in the County Legislature and Cortlandt Town Board.

The Peekskill Museum is at 124 Union Avenue. It is open to the public Saturdays from 1 p.m.- 4 p.m., or by appointment.  To make a contribution to the Building Fund, send a check to P.O. Box 84, Peekskill, NY 10566, or visit peekskillmuseum.org. 

For related article, see the November Journaling column from River Journal Editorial Director Bruce Apar.

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About the Author: George Oros