December 5, 2023
Dear Members of the HWS Community,
With great sadness, I write to share the news that Honorary Trustee Roy Dexheimer ’55, P’86, GP’18, LL.D.’80 passed away on Sunday afternoon. Roy truly led a life of consequence, which in addition to his many, many professional achievements, was distinguished by his passion for education, his love for his family, his incomparable wit and good humor and, with gratitude, his extraordinary service to Hobart and William Smith.
I first met Roy in 1999 during my campus visit for an interview to serve as president. In the ensuing 24 years right up to the most recent meeting of the Board of Trustees in October, Roy was a thoughtful adviser and valued friend. I will miss his candor, his good judgment and his unyielding commitment to the students of Hobart and William Smith.
Growing up in Bedford Hills, Westchester County, Roy arrived in Geneva as a member of the Class of 1955 and commenced what became a deep, lifelong engagement with his alma mater. As he studied toward his B.A. in English, Roy forged foundational relationships with his classmates and with the Colleges writ large. He served as president of his junior and senior classes; was a member of Beta Sigma Tau fraternity, the Orange Key, Chimera and Druid honor societies, Schola Cantorum and the Herald staff; and among his numerous other activities, was a manager for the baseball and football teams.
After graduating with a B.A. in English, Roy began his career as an educator, teaching English with the U.S. Army and at West Irondequoit High School in Rochester, N.Y. before earning a master’s degree from Teacher’s College at Columbia University and a doctorate in education from the University of Rochester. Roy’s remarkable talents as a teacher extended to administration, and for 40 years, he led school districts across New York State as a superintendent. At age 28, Roy became the youngest school district administrator in the State of New York. He served as district superintendent at Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga BOCES for 18 years and was a permanent or interim superintendent of Batavia City Schools, South Kortright Central School District, Elmira City School District and the South Seneca and Groton Central Schools.
For his educational leadership across the state, Roy earned the 1999 Distinguished Service Award by the New York State Council of School Superintendents — the highest honor bestowed by the Council. He also received the Distinguished Educator Award at the 50th anniversary celebration of the School of Education at Michigan State University.
Roy’s service to Hobart and William Smith is unsurpassed, from his tenure as president of the Hobart College Alumni Association, to his leadership in the Advancement office as interim vice president, to his 30-year membership on the HWS Board of Trustees. After the conclusion of his final term on the Board in 2003, when he was named an honorary member, Roy remained closely engaged with the Colleges’ leadership. In 2004, he led an effort by the Board to establish the Touching the Future Award, recognizing early educators for the significant and enduring role they play in the lives of Hobart and William Smith students.
Roy took great pride in the fact that he was the only Hobart grad to receive citations from both the Alumni and Alumnae Associations. On the occasion of his 50th Reunion, he was recognized with the Hobart Distinguished Service Award for Lifetime Service for his tireless dedication to his alma mater. In 2017, he was awarded the Alumni Association’s highest honor, the Hobart Medal of Excellence.
Equally dedicated to his professional and local communities, Roy served as president of the Council of School Superintendents and president of the Genesee Arts Council. He chaired the Board of Directors of the Human Services Coalition of Tompkins County, the Business-Industry Education Council, and Tompkins County Public Library, and served on the boards of other local organizations, including the Cayuga Medical Center Foundation and the Ithaca City School District Board of Education, which he led as president. Roy also spent three decades of service with Ithaca’s Hangar Theatre, where he helped shape the core of its mission to enrich, enlighten, educate and entertain audiences throughout the Finger Lakes.
As an administrator, an educator and community leader, Roy leaves behind an exceptional and inspirational legacy. I remain deeply grateful for all he did for Hobart and William Smith. I know there are many on campus, in Geneva, in Ithaca, and across the region whose lives have been changed for the better because of Roy Dexheimer. Our thoughts are with Roy’s wife, Fran, and their family including his stepdaughter Katrina Mooney Lui ’86. He was especially proud that his granddaughter, Miranda Smith ’18, graduated from HWS.
Visitation will be held on Friday, Dec. 15 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 16 from noon to 2 p.m. at Perkins Funeral Home in Dryden, N.Y. A Prayer Service will be held privately for the family. We will hold a memorial service for Roy on campus this spring and will communicate details when they are finalized.
Mark D. GearanPresident