On Saturday, April 9, 2022, RNYAA finally got to celebrate the 2020 inductees to the Rensselaer Hall of Fame. From the left, Capt. Grant Staats (1978); Eileen Wilkinson representing Frances Harrison, faculty posthumous; Eddie Heeran (1971); Kendrick Nixon for staff member Jacklyn Nixon; Philip Foust (1976); Jon Badi Sr. (1962); Rikki Terry Allert (1995), Brian Leahey (1974). Not pictured: Jay Corcoran (1966) and Carol Davis (1972).
Rikki Terry Allert is being inducted into the Hall of Fame for her selfless act of courage, love, and kindness of donating her kidney to her brother who was a city policeman and for her volunteerism.
Rikki was in the class of 1995. She was very active in high school, in sports (cheerleading, basketball and softball); in clubs and as a class officer each year: VP her junior and senior year, secretary sophomore year and president freshman year. She was also vice president of Student Council her senior year. She was on the prom committee and prom princess her junior year. This is just some of the high school activities in which she participated.
Post high school Rikki studied Business Administration at Bryant & Stratton Business Institute. Her career involved managing a staffing service office, customer service for an internet provider, and working in human services for 8 yrs. In 2010 she started her own business, Tender Loving Cleaning, which she had for 7 yrs. Switching gears, she became a member service advisor for SEFCU for 2 yrs before being promoted to member service leader, the position she currently holds.
In 2017 while working at SEFCU her brother Joseph Terry, a city police officer went into kidney failure. After determining that Rikki was a “match” she donated one of her kidneys to her brother which saved his life. Some may remember that the local news stations carried this heartwarming story. For her heroism Rikki received the NYS Gift of Life Medal of Honor and for the duration of her stay at Albany Medical Center, the “Donate Life” flag flew and later was presented to her. Rikki continues to be an organ donor ambassador inspiring the public to donate at their death if not for someone living. Rikki was nominated by Dawn Romano Allert, class of 1968, who has since passed due to COVID. She lives on Broadway in Rensselaer with her husband and two children.
Jon Badi, Sr. is being inducted into the Hall of Fame for his tireless volunteerism for military veterans’ organizations and his community service to the city’s school, fire department and to boys’ Little League baseball.
Jon was a member of the class of 1962. In high school he was in bowling his second and third year, basketball manager, in varsity club, played varsity baseball his senior year and was shop treasurer his junior and senior year.
He signed up to be a Marine in 1962 and served in Okinawa as a demolition expert until 1968 reaching the rank of Lance Corporal. He also was stationed in Parris Island and Vietnam.
In 2006 he graduated from the American Legion College and was secretary for the college for several years and is Rensselaer County treasurer since 2018. Jon is a member of the American Legion Gerald O’Neil Post 1683 and its Sons of the American Legion Squadron and has served as Past NYS Commander’s Aide. At that Post, he is also a charter member of the Sons of the American Legion Riders and serves as Chaplain. He has also held positions of Third District 2nd Vice Commander and 1st Vice Commander. From 2015-17 he was the District Commander. He participated in the Commander Fang Wong Legacy Run in 2012. He has also held the office of treasurer for the American Legion Post 1881. Jon is a member of the National American Legion Press Association and its NYS affiliation serving as a reporter and photographer.
In addition to the American Legion, Jon has been a member of the Patriot Guard Riders of NY, Section 5 since 2010; a member of the Captain William O’Brien Detachment of the USMC out of the Zaloga Post in Albany and is a lifetime member of the Lansingburgh Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Jon belongs to other organizations, such as the Rensselaer Fraternal Order of the Eagles 4446. In 2006, Jon was inducted into the Hall of Fame for the State Fraternal Order of the Eagles in Ithaca. As a member Jon was their first State Officer, first 10-yr Worthy Secretary and was the NYS Worthy President in 2015-16. He also is a charter member of the Eagle Riders as well as Chaplain, a charter member of the Cobleskill Eagle Riders and in 2016-18 was a member of the Lansingburgh and South Glens Falls Riders.
Jon’s interest in education brought him to the American Bikers Aimed Towards Education (A.B.A.T.E.) Riders of the Albany Chapter. He has also helped for several years with the “Boys State” for high school junior boys. Since 1952 Jon has been involved with the Rensselaer Little League and has established the Badi Award given to a graduating 12 yr. old.
While Jon wasn’t attending all these meetings, he was a long-haul truck driver for 39 yrs. driving just short of 4 million miles in every state but Alaska.
Jon lives on South St. with his wife Louise. They have 2 children, 8 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren.
James “Jay” Corcoran is being inducted into the Hall of Fame for his long and varied career serving the community in the city and county fire departments.
Jay is a member of the class of 1966 where he was active in sports and clubs. He was in Student Council for all four years and president his senior year. He also was a representative to the Mock U.N. Conference that year. He was in Key Club for four years and on Ramblurr staff senior year; was in Dramatics Club, Varsity Club and Pep Club. He played football and baseball and ran track. After graduating he attended Nasson College in Maine.
His higher education narrowed to the field of Fire Fighting and Prevention. He had extensive training at the NYS Fire Academy, the National Fire Advisory, The NYS Association of Fire Chiefs, the NYS Office of Fire Prevention and Control and the Fire Instructor Training Program, receiving certification in over 17 different areas.
From 1973-86 Jay was Fire Inspector for the BASF Corporation. All his vast duties were coordinated with the Rensselaer Fire Department. Jay’s career in the RFD started almost 50 yrs ago joining Hart Hose as a volunteer. He transferred to Chemical Hose #4 and from 1981-2007 was Operations Chief. He also served in this position from 2010-19. While in the RFD, he served as Acting Chief 7 times.
Since 1986 he jointly served as a Fire Instructor with the NYS Office of Fire Prevention and has taught in every Fire Department in Rensselaer County. He also taught evening courses in fire safety from 1990-99 for the NYS Association of Fire Chiefs. He was a consultant trainer for NYCOMED (now TAKEDA) Pharmaceuticals from 1995-2002. Jay supplemented his primary occupation with driving a school bus for 16 yrs for the RCSD.
He retired from that job in 2014 and from the RFD in 2019, receiving a commendation from the county for his outstanding dedication to the City of Rensselaer Fire Department.
Jay was nominated by former faculty members Jim Cochran and Ernie Mann, also Steve Mann. Ernie and Steve both served with him on the RFD. All three of these friends are also Hall of Famers. Jay still lives in Rensselaer.
Carol Davis is being inducted into the Hall of Fame for her extensive career as an author and for her community volunteerism.
Carol is a member of the class of 1972 where she was the Salutatorian. She was a member of Honor Society for 3 yrs, received academic awards in Math, Science, English, Spanish and Latin and was a member of the yearbook staff and Writer’s Club. After high school she went to SUNY Oneonta for a year studying elementary education, then switched to the College of St. Rose here in Albany, graduating cum laude with an English major and Biology minor in 1976. She left the area to see what California had to offer.
Her career as a secretary for 38 yrs was interspersed with exciting adventures like being assigned by the Writers’ Guild of America Theater at Paramount Pictures to Star Trek: The Next Generation in 1991 sparking a series of guest speaking engagements at Star Trek conventions in 1996 (Leap Con Quantum Leap), 1997 (Indie Leap Quantum Leap) and 2007 at the Shore Leave Science Fiction convention. All the connections she made lead to her organizing a very successful auction fundraiser for the Santa Monica Red Cross which raised over $4,000 from memorabilia donated from Star Trek and others.
Carol’s love of science fiction and family are combined in her writing, and she attributes becoming a published writer, in part, to Scott Bakula, the Star Trek actor whom she met. She has many books that have been published by Berkley of Penguin Books Random House in the nineties. Now that she’s retired and back in the area, Carol also writes e-books under the pen name of Carrie Ann Hope, mostly for Kindle. She has websites for both names as well as a blog. She also designs her own covers. Her works can be found on Amazon and Kindle.
Carol was nominated by classmates Karen Troxell Garhartt and Joanne Fariello. She lives in Rensselaer and when not writing enjoys photography and graphic art.
Philip Foust is being inducted into the Hall of Fame for his dedication to serving his community through his work as a fire fighter and with Kiwanis, Pop Warner Football and Little League.
Phil was in the class of 1976. In high school he was on the indoor and outdoor track teams and was in Key Club, Drama Club, and the Freshman Reception Committee. Even before he graduated Phil was a volunteer member of the Chemical and Hose, Pumper 4 and volunteering with Rensselaer Pop Warner and Little League. He wound up turning fire - fighting into a career and continuing with Pop Warner and Little League.
Phil’s career with the RFD began after his volunteering in 1981 when he was appointed as a Fire Driver. He continued in this position for 20 yrs. During this time, he also was on the Volunteer Ambulance squad serving as lieutenant. He served as Fire Chief after a 7yr. hiatus from 2008-2016 and was Assistant Chief from 2017 to last year. Some of the highlights of his career were when he, Mayor Dwyer and other officials secured the Safer Grant, allowing the city to hire 4 more firemen. He was also appointed as a mediator to negotiate the contract between the Union and the City. He served on many committees for the construction of the North Station and purchase of more trucks.
After serving as commissioner, coach and as a board member for Pop Warner and umpire and board member for Little League he took a few years off. Then in 2010 he joined Kiwanis and has held the titles of Vice President and Treasurer of the board. He helped with Kiwanis involvement at the summer concerts, at the annual Boys and Girls club Christmas party and with the Memorial Day parade.
Phil’s volunteerism didn’t stop there. Over the years he was a member of the Fire Fighters’ Union, the Chairman of the Rensselaer Democratic Party and the Republican Committee, a member of the DaVinci Lodge, both of Rensselaer’s Methodist Churches, involved with the Boy Scouts and a member of the Boys’ Club.
Phil was nominated by Bill Reimann ’74. He and his wife Doreen have raised 2 daughters and have 3 grandchildren. The Foust’s support the RHS Athletics, Drama Club and Music programs and love to travel.
Frances Harrison, Faculty, is being inducted posthumously into the Hall of Fame for her dedication to teaching at the RCSD, being a writer, and her numerous volunteer positions within her community’s charitable organizations.
Frances Burns Harrison spent most of her childhood and teens in the orphanage, run by St. John’s in Rensselaer, with her siblings. She graduated from St. John’s Academy in Rensselaer class of 1950. While in high school she was on the honor roll for all 4 yrs, was class Vice President her first and third years, in Latin and Dramatics clubs, and served on the school paper and yearbook staff, to mention some of her activities. Following high school, she earned her Bachelor and Master of Arts in Economics from U Albany.
Frances taught Economics and Social Studies at Rensselaer Jr-Sr High School for 19 yrs in the late 1970s and through the 80s. She also taught Adult Education. She was the advisor for the Liberty Club as well.
Following her teaching career, she became a financial advisor. She reached high positions in branches of many local firms such as First Albany Corporation and Morgan Stanley Smith Barney. She was recognized as one of “2000 Notable American Women” and was a member of “Who’s Who - World Wide”. Fran gave back to her community by volunteering on local boards of directors, sometimes holding officer positions, for many charities such as the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Albany Lions Club, and more.
While wintering in Florida Fran became a writer for a local newspaper, moderated a local “Let’s Talk” group, was Marshall for a St. Patrick’s Day parade and member of the Wild Geese Irish Club. She took up clay sculpting, was a fitness buff and a bridge and Mahjong player.
Fran passed away in 2017 at St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany. She leaves behind 4 children, 6 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren. She was nominated by alumna Eileen McCormick Wilkinson ’83.
Edward “Eddie Angel” Heeran is being inducted into the Hall of Fame for his contribution to making, performing, and recording music internationally and for his generous giving to community organizations.
Eddie was part of the class of 1971. While in high school he was in dance band, in Student Council, Senior class Vice-President, won a Spanish Award his junior year and belonged to the bowling club for 2 yrs.
Eddie’s love of guitar playing started at the age of 12 when he got his first electric the Christmas of 1965. He formed his first band “The Kreases” in junior high playing for birthday parties and publicly at a few Battle-of-the-Bands. In high school he joined the band “The Motivations” as a rhythm guitarist. They played at many school dances and parities.
After high school, he graduated SUNY Albany with a BA in History, then soon began touring with the “Star Spangled Washboard Band”. The band did great by landing a 3-month gig at Walt Disney World. Their band posters now hang in the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, TN. Eddie started playing rockabilly music with the local group “Rockin’ Dakotas” in the late 70’s. He left for Washington D.C. in 1980 to play with “Tex Rubinowitz & the Bad Boys” and in 1981 he released his first single, “Rampage/Lynxtail” on Rebel Riot Records. In 1988 Eddie formed a surf rock group called “Los Straightjackets” with two others who are still touring the world and as of 2019 have recorded 26 albums. In 1989 while in Nashville he met rockabilly singer Sonny George and formed the band “The Planet Rockers”, touring the USA and Europe.
In the 1990s he formed what he characterizes as a “caveman garage band” which he calls “The Neanderthals” with local rocker Johnny Raab and others playing at the famed CBGB’s in NYC.
In 1996 Eddie Angel was inducted into the CAMA (Capitol Area Musician's Association) Hall of Fame along with Lee Shaw, The McKrells, and Ruth Pelham. The same year he was nominated for “Best Guitarist in Nashville". Eddie Angel is also a Second Generation member of the National Rockabilly Hall of Fame. (Artists who record and perform Rockabilly music after 1962). In 2004 "Rock and Roll City" by Eddie "The Chief" Clearwater and Los Straitjackets was nominated for the GRAMMY Award for best traditional blues album but lost to Buddy Guy. Los Straitjackets appeared 11 times on Late Night with Conan O'Brien as well as in the movie Psycho Beach Party. Eddie’s music has been used in many movies, commercials, and television shows. Eddie has recorded hundreds of singles and albums on his label Spinout Records. This summer Eddie will be on the road again touring with Los Straitjackets and Nick Lowe. Dates include Tanglewood on June 26 and a tour opening for Elvis Costello in August. When not touring Eddie helps with his son’s Eagle Scout Troop and donates his time to events like fundraisers for cancer victims.
Eddie was nominated by alumnus Ernest Dambrose ’82, an avid music fan whose hobby is researching music history especially capitol region music. Eddie and his wife Melanie live in Nashville TN and have 3 children.
Bryan Leahey is being inducted into the Hall of Fame for his service to several branches of the city’s government and volunteerism with many activities and organizations that serve children.
Bryan is an alumnus of the class of 1974. During high school he was on the Ramblurr staff and Grievance Committee. He played both JV and Varsity baseball. After high school Bryan worked for the US Postal Service for 30 yrs.
During that time, he was active in many of the youth organizations in which his children belonged. Whether it be announcing at a RHS football game or his activities in Pop Warner Football or Little League baseball, for 20 yrs. Bryan was there. For all his years of service in 2002 he was awarded “The Rensselaer Award” and 10 yrs later, the city of Albany Recreation Bureau presented him with a plaque for his “Countless Years of Dedicated Service” to the Pop Warner Federation. For this same dedication and service, Bryan was awarded another plaque by the Albany County District Attorney.
Bryan was very active in Little League baseball as well, being treasurer for over 15 yrs, coaching the Little League and Senior League. He was also assistant coach for the Gerald O’Neil American Legion Post’s baseball team. In 2002 Bryan was awarded the RJ Manning Award for “Service and Dedication to the Youth of the City”. Most recently Bryan worked to recognize Roger Connor who played for the major league Troy Trojans and hit the first recorded grand slam in a game played on what is now Riverfront Park on Broadway in Rensselaer in 1881. There was press coverage of this event and a monument placed in the park commemorating it.
Bryan has also been a volunteer for the E.F. Hart Hose and the Rensselaer Boys and Girls Club. After the passing of Mayor Dwyer, Bryan was named 3rd Ward Alderperson in 2019. Before that he had served on the board of commissioners of the Rensselaer Housing Authority for more than 10 yrs, and as board chairperson for 5 yrs.
Bryan was nominated by his sister, alumna Jane Leahey Reynolds ’76. He has 3 children and 5 grandchildren and still lives in Rensselaer.
Jacklyn Nixon is being inducted into the Hall of Fame for her contributions to the RCSD and volunteerism with school and community organizations.
Jackie went to Van Rensselaer Jr. High School leaving in 1961 to go to school in NYC, graduating in 1964 from Julia Richman High School.
From 1984-1997 Jackie was an Attendance Officer for the RCSD and as such had to record daily attendance, conduct home visits for absent students, attend court appearances for troubled children and supervise detention after school.
From 1997-2007 Jackie was a Pre-Kindergarten Parent Coordinator. Her duties included reviewing and selecting applications for the program, setting up classes, conducting home visits and much more.
Since 2000 Jackie has worked as a Membership Coordinator at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Southern Rensselaer County.
In 2017 she received a Resolution Commending Her Dedicated Service to the City of Rensselaer from the Rensselaer County Legislature. The document recognizes her exemplary service to the community. It recognizes that she demonstrated a strong desire to make the community and world a better place. It goes on to state that she is a positive role model for the youth of the community, has volunteered for the PTA at Fort Crailo, Van Rensselaer Elementary and is a charter member of the PTSA at Rensselaer Middle High School. She is a member of the Ladies Auxiliary Police, Board of Commissioners for the Rensselaer Housing Authority and the Ladies Auxiliary for the Boys and Girls Club.
Jackie was nominated by alumnus Alvin Pickens ’64. She has 7 children and 9 grandchildren. She still lives in Rensselaer and enjoys cooking, reading and dance.
Middle High School. She is a member of the Ladies Auxiliary Police, Board of Commissioners for the Rensselaer Housing Authority and the Ladies Auxiliary for the Boys and Girls Club.
Jackie was nominated by alumnus Alvin Pickens ’64. She has 7 children and 9 grandchildren. She still lives in Rensselaer and enjoys cooking, reading and dance.
Capt. Grant Staats Ret. is being inducted into the Hall of Fame for his extensive education and military career and for community volunteerism with children.
Grant was a student in the class of 1978, enlisting in the Navy in 1977. In high school Grant participated in many activities. He was a cross country runner and ran indoor and outdoor track. He played varsity tennis and was in Varsity, Ski, Key and Audio -Visual clubs. He won the History Award in freshman year and was on the Prom and Freshman Reception committees as a senior.
In 1980 after Grant completed basic SEAL training he served as a platoon communicator for 4 yrs and completed 2 WESTPAC deployments after which he left active duty to attend college. He graduated from State University of Utica with a BS in Electrical Engineering Technology in 1988. In 1984 he went into the Reserves until 1992 at which time he was awarded a commission through the Direct Commission Officer program. Since that year he had several Reserve assignments for which he was either a Maritime Operations Officer, an Executive Officer, or a Commanding Officer. Active-duty assignments since 1992 included the locations of Kuwait, Qatar, the Pentagon, Iraq, Coronado, Stuttgart, Uganda, and Kabul to name a few.
In 1997 Grant completed his MBA in Information Systems. He also received his second master’s degree in 2011, and his third in 2013. During this time his rank increased all the way to Captain, retiring in 2019. His volunteer work includes Cub Scout Den Leader and Steering Committee Co-chair and Boy Scout Counselor, and professional organization vice president for the Empire Orienteering Club in Albany.
Grant was nominated by his long-time friend David Allen ’78. He lives with his wife Kathy in Nassau, and they have 5 children and 2 grandchildren.