Community and agriculture celebrated in new Richard C. Call Arena at GCC

Sep 8, 2017

Photo Credit: Howard B. Owens
Richard C. Call Arena Dedication

Richard C. Call epitomized community, speakers noted yesterday at the dedication of two new facilities at Genesee Community College, and he was an avid supporter of agriculture, so it's only appropriate, they said, that the new athletic and community center on the college campus be named after him.

"This is a great day," said Peter Call, son of Dick Call, a member of the board of trustees for five years (top photo). "It just doesn’t get any better than this and this building exceeds all of our wildest expectations. It seems like two minutes ago we were having the campaign, trying to raise a few bucks and now it’s all done and it’s ready for students."

It was Dick Call, said College President Jim Sunser, who recognized the need for an event center that could serve both community and student athletic needs. When the plan was drafted for the building and the Student Success Center, it was Call who had the vision to turn to the community, especially fellow farmers, to raise $5 million to help fund the project. And it was Call who recognized Craig Yunker was just the person to lead the fundraising campaign.

"I’m grateful to have been mentored by Dick Call," Yunker said. "He convinced me to be involved with this effort and I’m grateful. It’s been a great honor."

From Dick Call's original vision to planning for the facility, the need to recognize agriculture's central role in the community was a big part of the effort, speakers said.

"Early on in the campaign," said Peter Call, "during one of our campaign meetings, Jim Vincent made a very strong, encouraging comment that the college needs to have some kind of permanent agriculture exhibit on display so that all of our students and all of our visitors can understand what the history of agriculture is in Western New York, what agriculture is today and the future of agriculture. I think you can see the message got through and the college put together just an amazing exhibit."

Dick Call didn't live to see his vision become reality. He died in 2014.

"When I think of community life, I’m reminded of Dick Call and the values he lived by each day," Sunser said. "It is most fitting that this structure bears his name."

The central role of agriculture in the region is on display in the front hallway of the new arena.

"Those visitors will immediately grasp the values and traditions that define our community and make it so special," Sunser said. "Our community has thrived in a large part because of the agriculture. We all know that agriculture is the driving economic engine and force in our GLOW county region and agriculture is the driving force behind the values that we cherish in our community."

Peter Call said the dedication was a proud day for his family and the community and he thanked the community members who turned out for the event.

"I’ve traveled around and been to many community colleges and certainly our campus and now, with these two new buildings, we are above everyone, any community college anywhere as far as facilities," Peter Call said. "It’s very easy to say but it’s just a fact. It’s wonderful."

By Howard B. Owens, The Batavian