~ Fort Hill Cemetery ~


George R. Metcalf

George and Becky Metcalf
Born 1914, died 2002.

George R. Metcalf: former N.Y. State Senator, activist, businessman, author and philanthropist.

    George Rich Metcalf was born on February 5, 1914 in Auburn, the son of Edwin Flint Metcalf and Bertha Rich Metcalf. As the youngest of three sons George spent many of his summers at a house at the northern end of Lake Owasco where and his two brothers enjoyed swimming and boating. He also spent a good deal of time with his maternal grandparents in Cato (Justice Adelbert P. Rich, a State Supreme Court Judge and a member of the Appellate Court in Brooklyn). George graduated from the Northwood School in Lake Placid, N.Y. in 1932; he was one of the two school leaders, a member of the Cum Laude Society and an avid ski jumper. Metcalf graduated from Princeton University in 1936 (where he distinguished himself in lightweight football). He then went to Columbia University School of Journalism graduating in 1937 with a Master's in Journalism. George lived in Hell's Kitchen in New York City working for local politicians until the spring of 1938 when he returned to Auburn. His father Edwin Flint Metcalf had a distinct distrust of politicians despite the fact his father Edwin Dickinson Metcalf had been a state senator and mayor of Springfield, Massachusetts before coming to Auburn and founding the Columbian Rope Company. George, however, always wanted to go into politics but was not sure what route to take. He started his own publishing firm, The Auburn Press in 1938.

    He met Elizabeth Ann (Becky) Bradley from Marcellus at a wedding at the Owasco Country Club, saw her three times before they were engaged and married in Marcellus on August 19, 1939. Sandra Bradley Metcalf, their first child was born on November 19, 1940 and soon after in December 1941 George closed The Press and enlisted in the U.S. Army as a 2nd lieutenant in the 6th Armored Division. After training in several southern states for two years he left for Europe in 1944. Karen Dickinson Metcalf, his second daughter, was born on July 23, 1943. From England he went to France in August 1944 about 60 days after D-Day, landing on Omaha Beach, finally fighting in the Battle of the Bulge and receiving the Silver Star for "intrepid bravery, leadership and gallantry exemplifying the highest traditions of military service. (George was subjected to intense artillery and mortar fire for a period of 36 hours in Luxembourg and took complete charge of the unit). When he returned to Auburn in May 1945 he worked for the Citizen-Advertiser where he wrote "A Look-See" column for many years. During this time three Metcalf sons were born: Slade Rich was born August 19, 1946; Stephen Chase was born on January 20, 1950 and Bradley Shaw was born on March 15, 1952

    In 1948 he became chairman of the Auburn Housing Authority before being elected to the N.Y. State Senate in 1950. During his 15 years in the legislature he authored many bills in the area of fair housing, civil rights and public health. These laws served as models for national legislation. He was most proud of the Metcalf-Baker bills on housing discrimination and the Metcalf-Volker bill on narcotic addiction which both became laws. Metcalf served as Chairman of the Joint Legislative Committee on Public Health. Metcalf was a senator in the 47th District from 1951-1954 and the 48th district 1955-1965. In 1965 he left the Senate to write about racial injustice. Metcalf authored four books: two books on black history, one on fair housing and one on busing; (Black Profiles, published by McGraw-Hill in 1968, Up From Within, published by McGraw-Hill in 1971, From Little Rock To Boston, published by Greenwood Press in 1983, Fair Housing Comes of Age, Greenwood Press. Westport, Conn. 1988.)

    During the 1970's he taught black history at Auburn Community College. From 1980-1988 Metcalf was the board chairman of the Columbian Rope Company, established by the Metcalf family in 1903. In 1983 Metcalf was honored by the local Human Rights Commission, one among many awards he received during his life. He was especially proud of his work with Homsite, a program in Auburn that assists low-income individuals with buying houses. He was a director of National Bank of Auburn for 12 years and instrumental in the renovation of Harriet Tubman and Seward Homes, and the building of the Schweinfurth Museum and the Metcalf Plaza office building. He was a member of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Freemason, Eagles, Elks and Lions. He attended Second Presbyterian Church regularly and served in many leadership capacities. George was a member (which he valued highly) of The Council on Foreign Affairs which met in New York City yearly.

    He enjoyed many years of golf, tennis and travel with his beloved wife Becky for 62 years. They lived on the island of Montserrat, West Indies for 18 years in the winters where he spent many hours writing and East Lake Road, Auburn for 40 years. Mr. Metcalf was a man of high principles and often looked at a framed handwritten note to him from his father: "Success, my boy, is the aim of all. But if you want to get that joy to the fullest, you want to get there through the door marked Push and not through the door marked Pull." He taught his children to be advocates for what they believed in; honesty was paramount. What an imprimatur he left! He always stressed philanthropy--"it is our responsibility to help our fellow man with financial aid, time, and energy. The Only Thing Saved In Life, Is What You Give Away.

    George Metcalf's life is a testament to our time. In the midst of injustice, inequality, and indigence, he emerged as a man of justice, vision and healing. He was a man not content with the status quo--he stood on the edge of history, looked ahead and saw a world of sister and brotherhood. He saw a world reconciled and enriched by differences. He was a friend to all who would reach out to others. He was a wonderful husband, father and grandfather, soft-spoken and humble.

    George suffered a stroke in the summer of 2001 and died May 30, 2002. All N.Y. State flags were flown at half-staff for 3 days by order of Gov. George E. Pataki. The family received letters from the Governor in addition Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and many others. At the funeral George had requested that all five of his children speak and we all did plus his eldest grandson--their eulogies made for a very poignant service. The mantle of this extraordinary man is passed to all of us to live justly and practice kindness and love. Written by Sandra Bradley Metcalf Bertetti

Blessed are those that hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Matthew 5.16


Born 1915, Died 2004

Elizabeth B. Metcalf: Mental Health Advocate, Founder of Cayuga County Mental Health Center and Wife of Sen. George R. Metcalf

    Elizabeth Ann Bradley Metcalf or Becky as she was known to all was born on December 22, l915 in New York City. She was the fourth child of Royal H. Bradley and Adrienne Shaw Bradley of Marcellus, N.Y. Becky grew up in Marcellus and was a 1933 graduate of Goodyear-Burlingame School in Syracuse and a 1937 graduate of Syracuse University with a degree in Psychology. While at the University she belonged to the Alpha Phi Sorority.

    After graduating from Syracuse U. Becky spent a year in England working in Leicester in the local welfare department and touring Great Britain and Scotland on bicycle. It was during that year that she realized what she wanted to do for her life's work: become a social worker and help her fellow man. So upon her return to America she applied and was accepted to the Smith School of Social Work in Northampton, Mass. After a few months of study she was assigned to a Family Service Agency in Providence, R.I. in the fall of 1938.

    At that time she met and married George Rich Metcalf on August 19, 1939. George would later become a State Senator from Cayuga County for a duration of 15 years. Becky was by his side—his soulmate for 63 years until he died in 2002. After their first daughter Sandra was born in November 1940, World War II broke out and Becky became a camp follower from Ft. Bragg, N.C. to Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma and finally Washington D.C. Then her husband went overseas and she returned to Auburn to take care of her two daughters (Karen was born in July 1943).

    After the war ended three more children were added: Slade in 1946, Stephen in 1950 and Bradley in 1952. At this time Becky and 4 local wives established the first Planned Parenthood Clinic in Auburn in the building occupied by the shoe firm of Marshall, Meadows and Stewart.

Becky did everything she could to make George a success as he served under Governors Dewey, Harriman and Rockefeller from 1950-1965.

    Elizabeth was very active in the City of Auburn and New York State. In 1955 she served as President of the NY State Association for Mental Health. For many years she was deeply involved in the Cayuga Home for Children on their Board of Directors, especially in 1956 and 1961 when the Mary Emerson Cottage for girls and the Fred L. Emerson Cottage for boys was built. She worked tirelessly for the right of all children to receive a public education.

    Becky also cared very much for the plight of the mentally disabled. In 1972 she led the battle to establish the Cayuga County Mental Health Center, one of the first counties in New York to establish such a center. Ginny Ellis, an Auburn advocate for people with disabilities stated, "Becky was the granddame of human services. People have dignity in their lives because of what she has done". Former Director of Cayuga County Laboratory Dr. Arthur E. Harris, stating her impact, "The children were her top priority." At one time she was a delegate to the National Conference for Children in Wash. DC.

    In 1975 Becky was given an award by the NYS Dept. of Mental Health stating "her continuing dedication, vision, spirit and tireless efforts culminated in the founding of the Cayuga County Mental Health Center. She distinguished herself as a leader for mentally disabled and improvement of society".

Her interest in child welfare eventually led to a job in the Auburn School System as a family counselor. She enjoyed being the conduit among students, teachers and homes.

    One of the loves in Becky's life was living with George for 18 years on the island of Montserrat, West Indies. She was a volunteer reading tutor to the island's native children while also playing golf and tennis.

    Elizabeth was a lifelong, active member of Second Presbyterian Church (now Westminster), a member of the Owasco Country Club, a member of the Fortnightly Club, a voracious reader, a gracious hostess in their home by Owasco Lake, a loving mother to 5 children and a proud grandmother to 12 children and 4 great grandchildren.

    In her later years Becky led a very courageous life having had a stroke and been legally blind for 7 years. She was fortunate to have 5 wonderful loving and loyal caregivers: her "angels of mercy".

    Pat Karpinski, a friend of Becky's once said, "If you are fortunate enough to be her friend, she will defend you to her death." This extraordinary woman improved the quality of lives of many Auburnians; even today people still benefit from her efforts in the field of mental health.

    Her husband George before his death set up a foundation at the Cayuga County Community College for the Elizabeth B. Metcalf Commencement Award given annually to a student seeking continuing education in the field of social work and mental health. This fund was set up in loving memory of Becky. Written by Sandra Bradley Metcalf Bertetti

The Metcalf lot is located in the Oakview section of the cemetery.

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