Edward R. “Butch” Cuony, 94, a resident of Geneva since 1937 passed away at Geneva North Living Center on Saturday, May 22nd . His beloved wife, Gerry predeceased him in September of 2006.
Ed was born on December 11th, 1915 in New York City, the only child of immigrant parents from the French speaking part of Switzerland. After his father’s death and the end of World War I, he and his mother returned to Switzerland to the family farm. In the early 1920’s, he and his mother came back to the United States which was not a problem for him since he was born in the US, but his mother, most likely because of the new immigration quota laws, was detained at Ellis Island. Both took up temporary residence there for some time before they moved to a Swiss “enclave” in NY City. He later was a standout in football, wrestling, and track at Kearny High School in New Jersey, and obtained a football scholarship to Syracuse University (Class of ’37) where he was an outstanding tackle on the team; he also participated on the SU Varsity Wrestling Team. In 1999, he was honored by Syracuse by being inducted into the SU Letterman of Distinction organization for his outstanding career as teacher, guidance counselor, coach and principal in the Geneva City School district, and later as a college professor at Hobart and William Smith College. His career was interrupted during World War II where he served from 1941-46 with great distinction as an officer in the Coast Guard with tours of duty in the Caribbean, North Atlantic, and ultimately, South Pacific Theater of Operations when he gained command of his own vessel.
Although he had obtained his Masters and main-bodyDoctorate degrees from New York University, he was never concerned about titles. He was affectionately known as “Butch” to the virtually thousands of young men and women who passed through the halls of Geneva High School between 1937 and the early 1960’s. He left a legacy of professionalism for others to emulate. At a time when coaches were paid nothing for their services and time, he started Geneva High’s wrestling program and coached them to a Section V championship in 1950. He also coached football, track, and swimming. The first year of his wrestling program, he was also coaching swimming during the same season which meant that he had to arrange separate practices the same day and go back and forth between the YMCA and the very small room given to the wrestling team at Geneva High. Following his brilliant career in the Geneva school system, he went on to a distinguished career at Hobart and William Smith College as a nationally known and published Professor of Education.
In 2004, a number of his former students established the Ed and Gerry Cuony Scholarships. Since 2005, 23 scholarships of $1000 each have been awarded to deserving young men and women from Geneva High, DeSales, and Finger Lakes Community College who have demonstrated the qualities that Dr. Cuony and his wife, Gerry showed throughout their distinguished careers: scholarship, leadership, citizenship, sportsmanship, team-work, patriotism, and commitment.
Dr. Cuony who turned 94 on December 11th,2010 had remained active until his stroke the previous September: he could have been seen virtually every day walking from his home to the Geneva hospital where he visited friends at the Nursing home; he was a strong supporter and fan of all SU athletics, particularly football, basketball, and lacrosse whose TV broadcasts he rarely missed. It is requested that in lieu of flowers, donations in his memory be made to the Ed and Gerry Cuony Scholarships at 5 Star Bank, 2 Seneca Street, Geneva, NY 14456.
At his request, there will be no calling hours; however, a funeral mass is scheduled for Tuesday, May 25th at 9:30 AM at St.Francis Church. There will be a “Gathering in Celebration” of his life during the summer or early fall to be held at a place and time yet to be determined.