Important and Influential People Who Shaped the Hudson Valley (1972-2012)

Meet the people who helped shaped the Hudson Valley for the past 40 years Featuring: Former Governor George Pataki, singer-songwriter Pete Seeger, Scenic Hudson’s Franny Reese, the Bardavon’s Chris Silva


Frank Cabot

Photograph by Marina Schinz

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Frank Cabot (1925-2011)

The late Francis Higginson Cabot Jr., better known as Frank Cabot, was one of the world’s leading experts in garden design and preservation. The former Harvard-educated financier founded the Garden Conservancy in Cold Spring in 1989 to avoid allowing developers to take over and destroy precious gardens or landscapes. The organization — which has preserved numerous significant gardens across the country — is located near Stonecrop Gardens, a meticulous 12-acre display that Cabot developed and nurtured over three decades. It features woodland, water, and cliff-rock gardens; an English-style flower garden; raised alpine stone beds; and other diverse blooms, trees, and plants. Although Cabot died last November, Stonecrop is still just as carefully maintained. This year marks the 20th year that it has been open to the public.

Jerry Jennings

In 1993, Gerald “Jerry” Jennings was elected mayor of the City of Albany. The Albany-born Democrat had big plans for the city’s revitalization. In the subsequent two decades, the rest of New York State has taken notice, as its rundown capital experiences a renaissance. This includes a commendable reduction in crime; placing an emphasis on environmental awareness, including the protection of the Pine Bush preserve; and focusing on increasing property values by revitalizing neighborhoods, which in turn has brought new jobs to the area. Redevelopment of Albany’s waterfront is also in the works, with talk of a pedestrian bridge over the Hudson. Jennings has received numerous awards for his role in helping the city get back on its feet again.

John Dyson

The business-minded man responsible for the vastly popular “I Love New York” campaign, John Dyson spent a decade in the state government. It was during his time serving as commissioner of agriculture that he made his largest contribution to the Valley: He and his team drafted the Farm and Winery Bill which passed into law in 1976. The bill lowered state fees charged to small wineries to a mere $125 per year. As a result, the region’s wine-making industry ballooned and now boasts more than 20 operating vineyards (see page 32). A Valley vintner himself, Dyson’s Millbrook Vineyards and Winery produces blends like Chardonnay, Hunt Country Red, and Tocai Friulano that continue to please local and national oenophiles.

William Kennedy

Acclaimed Albany author and journalist William Kennedy is nationally known for his award-winning novels, including Pulitzer recipient Ironweed (which was made into a film in 1987 featuring Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep). But here in the Valley, Kennedy is also known for his support of fellow and future writers through his role in establishing the New York State Writers Institute, located at SUNY Albany. The program aims to encourage and support aspiring writers, while enhancing the role of writers in our society. Kennedy was a creative writing and journalism instructor at the school from 1974 until 1982. In 1983, he received the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship award, which included a $75,000 grant to an institution of his choice. Although he graduated from Siena College, he chose his hometown university as the recipient. The university matched the awarded funds and the institute came to be. At age 84, Kennedy continues to pass the torch onto the next wave of authors and journalists at SUNY Albany as a professor in the English department.


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