Genesee Community College faculty, staff, and students learned yesterday morning that Anthony T. Zambito, a founding trustee, of the College, died Tuesday. Mr. Zambito was the longest-serving trustee in the College's history, serving from the College's founding in 1966 until his retirement from the Board of Trustees in 2000.
President Stuart Steiner, who knew Mr. Zambito since 1967, offered the following comments: "I was deeply saddened to learn of Tony's death, and the entire college community mourns the passing of a tireless advocate and great friend.
"Genesee Community College has been blessed with the wisdom, generosity, and vision of a great many people over the years. But no single individual has volunteered more time and energy to this College than Tony Zambito. Next to his family, Genesee Community College was the great love of his life, and he poured every ounce of energy and enthusiasm into Genesee that he possibly could.
"I will remember Tony for his thoughtful leadership and his wise counsel. But I will also remember him cheering in the stands for the Cougars, his excitement at attending student awards ceremonies, and the kindness he showed to everyone he met. Tony held the title of 'trustee' but he was first and foremost a beloved member of the Genesee Community College family.
"Tony's memory will always have a special place at Genesee, and we are holding Tony's family in our thoughts and prayers."
Mr. Zambito rallied community support for the creation of the College in the 1960s. He spoke at numerous civic gatherings, urging a "yes" vote on a 1965 referendum on the College's establishment. The referendum was approved, and Genesee became one of only two community colleges in New York State established by voter referendum.
After the College's establishment, the Genesee County Board of Supervisors appointed Mr. Zambito as one of the College's founding trustees. He served through 2000, until he resigned for health reasons. Mr. Zambito was the only founding trustee remaining on the Board of Trustees at the time of his resignation. During his years as a trustee, he served as chairperson of every board committee and served as chairman of the Board itself for four terms. The Board of Trustees named him a trustee emeritus in 2000.
Mr. Zambito also became active as an advocate for community colleges on the state and national level. He served as a member of the Association of Community College Trustees and the Association of Boards of Community Colleges. He served as president of the Association of Boards of Trustees, a statewide organization representing community college trustees. He is a recipient of the Anne M. Bushnell Memorial Award for Special Achievement, an honor bestowed on a New York State community college trustee for extraordinary commitment to the community college movement.
In 2000, the Board of Trustees named the Physical Education Building and Gymnasium in honor of Mr. Zambito. Rev. Kenneth A. Dodd, a current trustee and board chair that year recalled at the time that this honor was particularly appropriate: "Tony was a familiar sight at college activities over the years. He followed the Cougars the same way someone else might follow the Bills or the Yankees. He attended countless games and often traveled with the College's teams to events. I remember one year when Tony traveled to North Dakota in the middle of winter to cheer on our women's basketball team which was competing in a national championship."
Mr. Zambito attended many hundreds of college and student events over the years, including student plays and performances, fashion shows, fund raising activities, and awards ceremonies. During his tenure as a trustee, he never missed a graduation ceremony. He was instrumental in planning the construction of the Batavia Campus, the Genesee Center for the Arts, and the Conable Technology Building.
Anthony T. Zambito was also a noted local business leader and played a part in the events that led to an end to World War II. After graduating from Elba High School and Cornell University, with a Cornell chemistry degree, he joined the top-secret Manhattan Project. He and top scientists from across the United States collaborated on the development of the first atomic bomb. The use of the bomb in 1945 brought a sudden end to World War II. Mr. Zambito's role in the project earned him a special commendation from General Leslie Groves, director of the U. S. effort to harness nuclear energy and build the bomb.
After the war, Mr. Zambito joined his family's muck farming operation. After the federal government took over much of the family's farm property for a wildlife refuge, he became a commodity futures market broker, and worked at E. F. Hutton, Dean Witter, and Merrill Lynch. Following his career in the investment markets, he became manager of the Rochester Office of the Dale Carnegie Institute and served there until he retired in 1992.
Mr. Zambito also served as a member - and president - of the Genesee County Farm Bureau, Genesee Orleans Cornell Club, and the now-defunct Elba Rotary Club. He has served as Chairman of the Genesee County Resources Development Committee, Genesee County Extension Service Muck Committee, Village of Elba Republican Committee, and he has been involved in numerous activities at Our Lady of Fatima Church in Elba.
Although Mr. Zambito has been in ill health the last five years, his commitment to the College remained strong, according to Dr. Steiner. "Every time I visited him, I brought him news of the College," he said. "Whenever I started talking about the College, his eyes just lit up."