DIXIE - Dorothy (Dougan) Widmer Onanda's Business Manager
Born 7 September 1922
Married ____ to Frank Widmer
Died 13 May 2007
Dorothy graduated from Kenmore High School, Kenmore, NY and the University of Buffalo, Buffalo New York
Dorothy became Dixie, Onanda's business manager, in 1960 and remained at this summer post until 1972.
Leslie graduated from Springfield College in 1979 with a degree in Early Childhood Education, MEd in Special Education from St. John Fisher and another Masters in School Administration from SUNY Brockport. She taught students with emotional issues through Rochester Mental Health at Hillside School in Webster.
Leslie attended Camp Onanda for many years and was voted Outstanding Camper in 1972. She continued her love of people and the outdoors through working Family Camping at Camp Corey and teaching sailing at YMCA Camp Gorham for many summers.
Leslie passed away May, 2004 after a long fight with breast cancer. A memorial bench in her name overlooks the lake from the lodge at Camp Gorham, her favorite place.
This was shared by Linda "Windy" Gigliotti, Leslie's sister
WOODY… A sharing from Kammie
Paulette Woodliff, “Woody”, was at Onanda the summers of 1968-70. In 1969 I was a first year junior counselor (JC) and assigned to Anekul, with Woody, for sessions 3 and 4. I’d like to share lots of stories about Woody, about after-taps deep discussions concerning social inequities, the meaning of life, our place in the universe or specific stories about overnights we took the campers on and campfire programs run by Anekul. Unfortunately, I cannot. In 1969 I was about to enter my senior year in high school, trying to find my way as a camp counselor plus this took place 46 summers ago so I was mostly clueless then and have forgotten much now. What I can share are a couple of general memories and some bits and pieces I found while looking through old camp material.
Woody did not know how to swim when she came to camp but two of my strongest memories of her have to do with the lake. Woody took swimming lessons during rest hour and even now I can picture her coming out of the lake in a dark swim suit, shaking the water off her head and having a big smile on her face. My other lake memory comes from a time when there was an unturned buddy tag after a free swim. When that happened missing camper procedures would start and all waterfront counselors would go to the dock, form a hand-to-hand line and move in tandem to check the beginning, intermediate and advanced swimmer areas. By the time I got to the waterfront the missing person was found in Crouch and I saw Woody coming out of the beginner’s end wearing shorts and a blouse and was soaked. She could not swim but got in anyway, up to her chin, to help find the missing swimmer.
If you say Big Blue Frog to most people who were campers or counselors at Onanda in 1968, 69 or 70 they will probably think of Woody. Woody was the Big Blue Frog in one of the acts during each session’s staff show. She was really funny. Big smile on her face, blue clothes and swim fins on her feet. Over the years I would occasionally think back about the skit and song. If any one else had been the frog it would have just been a cute, funny skit. Woody being the frog gave real meaning to the words and the song’s message of tolerance.
Looking through the camp material I found a note to me from Woody written while we were co-counselors (cos). She was asking forgiveness for “being such a rotten co today”. I vaguely remember the note and am certain I was confused as to why she wrote it. She would have periods of being quiet but she was very much the opposite of a rotten co. She then went on to basically say she tried to keep people from liking her and forming friendships. She failed miserably to do that. As another counselor wrote “She endeared herself to all of us in the three years she was at camp.”
At the end of each session the JCs compiled and printed a camp magazine called Ohonta. Third session, 1969, one of the campers in Anekul wrote the following.
“One of my counselors is Woody. She sticks birdseed down Grace’s (another counselor) pants, hangs her hat off the tennis fence and pours water in her hair and down her back. Woody likes to read comic books. She’s very funny, has a very goofy personality and takes away store cards. All the same she is real nice. “ The camper finishes saying “Kammy and Woody play a lot of jokes. I enjoy them and laugh my head off. My counselors are really funny.” Woody’s practical joking is also brought up in an issue of Ohanta from 1970 with Grace again the target.
Fourth session 1969 Ohanta’s theme was “Happiness is.” Woody was the only counselor who submitted a list of “Happiness is” items. Some of the nineteen items on her list are:
flag ceremony when everything goes well
a clean Abode
hearing a camper say, “You’re the BEST counselor I ever had.”
people who smile and say, “hi”
wonderful fellow counselors
staying at Onanda an extra two weeks
returning to Onanda again and again
While trying to decide what to write for my memorial about Woody I asked Hilary Green, “Hilly”, for some help figuring out a timeline. Hill answered my questions, added a nice story about a discussion she had with Woody and said “Woody had a quick sense of humor and made everyone feel at ease. She listened closely to what you said and it was obvious by her response that she was interested. She often responded in a very insightful way. Woody shared her warmth, wisdom and integrity with all.”
For me I would use the following adjectives and nouns to describe Paulette Woodliff: Funny, perceptive, caring, sensitive, senior counselor, co-counselor, teacher, prankster, big blue frog. I continue to carry what I learned from her so many years ago and am fortunate to have been her co-counselor Anekul.
Thank you Woody.
There are lots of Woody stories out there. Please feel free to send in any remembrances, specific or general.
Below - Woody as a college freshman (left) and college senior (right)
LESLIE - Leslie Clarke Onanda Camper
Died May 2004
Leslie grew up in West Irondequoit and always stayed connected with Onanda. Leslie was always ready to volunteer her time to any camp cause or need. She was an incredibly gentle and caring spirit. Onanda recognized that spirit even as a camper.
Cranie is on the right in the hat.
My Memory of Woody (Camp Onanda 1970)
from June Cuthbert, “June”
I enjoyed Woody’s fun personality during the summer of 1970 when I was a Lower Camp counselor. Woody performed a great campfire skit to the Boa Constrictor song (see the words in the “Songs” section of the website). She stood with a green sleeping bag bunched around her ankles and started singing the words, “Oh no—he swallowed my toes.” As the song continued, she’d move the sleeping bag upward to the corresponding body part. “Oh gee—he swallowed my knees; oh fiddle—he swallowed my middle; oh heck—he’s up to my neck; oh dread—he’s reaching my…(slurp)”; and Woody’s head would disappear as she flipped the top of the sleeping bag forward, showing only a red construction paper “boa constrictor tongue”! Campers and counselors were howling with laughter as Woody emerged with a big smile. She enjoyed the skit as much as her audience.
DONNIE - Donald Jacques Dishwasher & Grounds Helper
Born 23 April 1947
Died 25 February 1968
Donnie was the youngest Second Lieutenant recognized by the United States Marine Corps and a casualty of the Vietnam War.
Donnie's sudden passing was hard to grasp by the counselors who knew him and definitely brought the horrors of the Vietnam War, all war for that matter, to Onanda.
KASSIE - Karen Billingsley-Roberts Camp Counselor
Born 1 October 1948
Married 1996 to Dale Roberts
Died 1 June 2001 (this date is from the US Social Security Death Index which is a highly accurate record)
Kassie hailed from Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. She attended Slippery Rock College (now University), and Columbia University.
Kassie became a member of Onanda's family the summer of 1967 and returned the next summer too.
Yes, Paulette, I remember your mom fondly. Had a nasty fall into the cement step of Chule one day the summer of 1967. Like all accidents I was carelessly running down toward the cabin... ah youth. Your mom was there to make sure I didn't do more damage than what was obvious. But I remember your mom as totally being a part of all the fun and crazy moments with the rest of us. I can still hear her laughter. And yes, when it came to tending to our "medical needs" she was caring and yet firmly admonished us a wee bit for our youthful carelessness. Hah, still carry the scar from that fall along with warm fuzzy memories of your mom.
This was shared by Truesie
CAROL - Carol S. Phelps Head Cook
Born 17 September 1916
Died 1 February 2000
Obituary of Rita Swank
Rita (Keogh) Swank 1923-2016
Canandaigua- Rita (Keogh) Swank, age 92, passed away on May 4, 2016 at Hospeace House in Naples, NY.
She is survived by her son, Keith Jr. (Teresa) Swank , granddaughter, Katy Swank and Donny DeClerck as well as many loving nieces, nephews, and friends.
She was pre-deceased by her husband, Keith Swank Sr. in 1993.
Rita was born in Rochester NY and made it her home. From the CYO to the YWCA, she spent years around the pool, teaching people to swim. She retired from the Rochester Chapter of the American Red Cross as the Director of Health and Safety.
In her Florida retirement she continued to work tirelessly as a Red Cross Disaster Services Volunteer.
Rita enjoyed playing golf, shopping, dining out and playing cards.
Special thanks to the staff of Quail Summit for their care and to Linda Stannard for her friendship.
Friends may call on, Monday, May 9th from 4-7pm at Fuller Funeral Home, Inc. 190 Buffalo St. Canandaigua. A 7pm memorial service will follow at the funeral home.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the American Red Cross or Hospeace House in Naples, NY.
RITA - Rita Agnes (Keogh) Swank Rochester Y.W.C.A & American Red Cross
BORN 19 November 1923
DIED 4 May 2016
Rita was a major supporter of Camp Onanda. While with the YWCA, Rita often assisted in finding potential camp staff from her position there and with Red Cross. She was a close friend to many of the staff and joined in our reunions as well.
My mother was born July 31, 1922.
She graduated from Ben Franklin High School. She attended St Mary's School of Nursing. When she graduated she was a surgical nurse in Rochester (I cannot remember which hospital). She raised two daughters, Paulette and Virginia. She also worked for the Red Cross where she was a nurse in the blood bank. She loved gardening, reading, swimming, collecting Carnival glass, refinishing furniture, feeding and learning about birds and her two German Shepards. She loved a good hike in the woods behind our house. She was the only mom who took all the neighbor kids into the woods. I believe she spent 2 years as a nurse at Onanda while I was a counselor. I do remember she loved it and I loved having her there. My mom could be very funny and she did like a good time! Do any of you remember what my mom was like at Onanda - for the life of me I just can't remember. I do know she was a no nonsense person!!! She died at age 87 in January of 2010. She was born Virginia Anne Cirilla.
PS Still miss her every day like it was yesterday.
This was shared by Ginny's daughter, Paulette.
June 7, 2001
Karen A. "Kassie" Billingsley, 52, deputy director of a new institute on spirituality and health at George Washington University Hospital, died June 4. She lived in Silver Spring.
Ms. Billingsley, who also was coordinator of the hospital's chaplaincy program since 2000 and an adjunct professor at the medical school, was stricken with cardiac arrest at her office on the George Washington campus, only a few days after the opening of the educational and research center she helped establish.
The institute, which examines the role of spirituality in coping with illness, marked a departure for Ms. Billingsley, who lived in the Washington area since the late 1970s and had careers in government and educational administration.
A native of the Pittsburgh area, Ms. Billingsley received a bachelor's degree in sociology from what is now Slippery Rock (Pa.) University. She received a master's degree in administration from Columbia University in 1971 and a doctorate in higher education and administration from Columbia in 1978.
She worked as an assistant dean at State University College at Fredonia, N.Y., in the 1970s, and as a social sciences analyst in New York before moving to the Washington area in 1979. She lived in Washington before moving to Silver Spring in 1996.
She worked as a budget analyst for the Department of Health, Education and Welfare and as a budget official for the Education and State departments in the early 1980s. From 1987 to 1990, she was the budget officer for the Coast Guard. For that service, she was awarded the service's Bronze Medal.
From 1990 to 1999, she was the director of financial and resource management for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. During this period, she began volunteering as a lay chaplain at George Washington hospital, which led her to her most recent positions.
She was a member of St. Stephen Martyr Catholic Church in Washington.
Her hobbies included gardening.
Survivors include her husband of five years, Dale Roberts of Silver Spring; four stepchildren; her father; six brothers; and two sisters.
MILLIE - Mildred A. Burd Assistant Cook
BORN 22 April 1907
DIED 11 December 2001
SLIPPERY ROCK SR. YEARBOOK
BABE - Mary Francis Goodman Camp Counselor
More to come
When Onanda folks gather in smaller local knots or at reunions, often someone will ponder the whereabouts of an "Onandian." Does anyone know where _________ is or what they're doing now? B.I. (Before Internet), this question often went unanswered. I.B. (Internet's Birth), and the truly incredible detective mind of Peaches have helped us in locating some of our lost friends.
In our searches for Onandians Peaches is relentless and creative. Sometimes we recover a link to our Onanda folks and sometimes we discover a deep sadness in the loss of a friend.
Here you will find both memories and what we currently know of Onanda family who have passed from our circle.
GINNY - Virginia (Cirilla) Moriconi Camp Nurse
BORN 31 July 1922
DIED 9 January 2010
Virginia also was pretty much a Rochester gal, having graduated from Benjamin Franklin High School. From high school she went on into nursing where she graduated from St. Mary's School of Nursing.
Virginia was Ginny at Onanda, caretaker of bumps and scratches, cuts, and stomach aches - all things medical - the summers of 1966 and 1967.
High School yearbook senior picture
FRENCHIE - Louise M. Smallwood Camp Nurse
DIED 30 November 2017
Kassie Billingsley was a camp counselor at Onanda during the summers of 1967 and ’68. We remember Kassie as a loving, kind, and gentle person.
Her campers, as did the staff, loved to hear her sing and play the guitar.
Kassie, a native of Pittsburgh graduated from Slippery Rock University in 1969. In 1978 she received her doctorate degree from Columbia University.
Kassie died on June 4, 2001 in Washington D.C. at the age of 52.
She was deputy director of a new institute on spirituality and health at George Washington Hospital. Her obituary from the Washington Post will shine light on her many achievements.
Our good fortune was to have shared those special Onanda summers with such an extraordinary and loving person.
This was shared by Linda "Mart" Martin
CRANIE - Nancy (Weber) Canales Camp Counselor
MARRIED _____ to James Canales
DIED 8 August 2016
Nancy spent her childhood in Rochester, New York. She graduated from East High school in Rochester in 1967 and went on to graduate from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin and Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Cranie became a part of the Onanda campfire circle the summer of 1966 and returned the summers of 1968 and 1969.
These are Donnie's Marine patches and medals
CHARLIE - Charles H. Metz Camp Caretaker
Born 31 July 1918
Died 3 December 1988
MARIAN - Marian Metz Assistant Cook
WOODY - Paulette (Woodliff) Washington Camp Counselor
Born 26 January 1948 - Roanoke, VA
Married 27 September 1975 to Will Arthur Washington
Died 20 July 2003 - Pleasantville, NY
Paulette graduated from Lucy Addison High School in Roanoke, Virginia and Bennett College Greensboro, North Carolina.
Paulette became "Woody" of Camp Onanda the summer of 1968 and spent 3 summers at Onanda.
A good reminder for us all... (gravesite unknown)
GERT - Gertrude Mc Cormick Head Cook