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College, Community Benefactor Celine Paquette to Receive Garrow Service Award | SUNY Plattsburgh Reunion 2015

The SUNY Plattsburgh Alumni Association bestowed its Robert M. Garrow ’52 Alumni Service Award to a woman whose name is synonymous with service not only to the college but to the region, the state and the nation.

Dr. Celine Paquette ’60 received the award, named for her friend and long-time supporter of SUNY Plattsburgh, Robert Garrow, at Reunion 2015 during the Golden Anniversary Club luncheon on July 10. It recognizes alumni who demonstrate outstanding service to their alma mater and who do so in keeping with the traditions of the college.

Paquette has a long history of support of her alma mater, from which she earned her nursing degree. She went on to earn a master’s degree and doctorate in education from SUNY Albany and from there went on to a career that included school nurse-teacher, school principal, SUNY trustee and head of her late husband’s family business, Paquette Insurance Agency in Champlain, N.Y.

Maintains Ties with SUNY Plattsburgh

She has maintained ties with her alma mater throughout the years and was a former and now honorary member of the Plattsburgh College Foundation Board, having served as chair of its business campaign in the Northern Tier, and as co-chair of the college’s Bright with Promise capital campaign.

A benefactor of the Community Service Scholarship program, Paquette was presented with the SUNY Plattsburgh College Council Distinguished Service Award at spring commencement in 2009.

But her service doesn’t end there. Among her many contributions, Paquette has served as a trustee of St. Michael’s College; a commissioner on the Middle States Commission on Higher Education; chair of the advisory board for St. Anne’s Shrine in Isle La Motte, Vt.; chair of the Diocese of Ogdensburg Investment Committee; and a member of the boards of both the Northern Corridor Community Federal Credit Union and the Champlain EMS District.

She served as both chair and legislator of the Clinton County Legislature; trustee on the CVPH Medical Center Board of Trustees; vice chair of the Battle of Plattsburgh board; vice president and secretary of the Town of Champlain Industrial Development Agency; president of the Rouses Point-Champlain Kiwanis Club; vice chair of the Town of Champlain Land Use committee and subsequent Town Planning Board; secretary of the Clinton County Historical Association; and the town and village of Champlain historian.

Created Champlain History Center

She was able to parlay her love of history into New York state’s quadricentennial celebration, of which she was named vice chair by then-Gov. George Pataki, and, as a result, spearheaded the effort to bring the celebration to the Champlain region. In the last several years, Paquette purchased and restored a former bank building on the banks of the Great Chazy River on Elm Street in Champlain, turning it into the Samuel de Champlain History Center. Its current exhibit is on her elementary- and high-school alma mater, St. Mary’s Academy, the building, which was destroyed by fire in January. Its fire-ravaged shell sits a stone’s throw from the history center.

“It’s good to be busy,” the septuagenarian said. “It keeps you young and vibrant, being a contributing, productive member of the community. I don’t plan to be ‘done.’ There’s always something else on the horizon.”

Community Service Awards

In addition to the distinguished service award, Paquette has received numerous awards for her community service, including a Women of Distinction Award by the New York State Senate and a New York State Nurse-Teacher of the Year Award among many. The way Paquette sees it, service is the ultimate way to give back.

“I have received so much through my education, from the people I’ve met. I’ve been blessed. And this is a way for me to give back. If I can do it, I do it,” she said.

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