Amsterdam’s All-Time Top Ten List of Successful Women

1. Mary Anne Krupsak – The brilliant granddaughter of former Amsterdam, NY Democratic Party Ward-boss Mike Wytrwal. She graduated with honors from St. Mary’s Institute and then went on to get her bachelor’s degree from the University of Rochester, her masters from Boston University and a law degree from the University of Chicago. She became an assistant in New York Governor Averill Harriman’s office and then worked in a similar capacity for Amsterdam Congressman Sam Stratton. After a brief tenure in private industry, she secured positions with the NY State Assembly and Senate before running and winning elections to the Assembly in 1969 and then the State Senate in 1973. The following year she made national headlines when she was nominated to run for Lieutenant Governor on the ticket with Hugh Carey and went on to become the first woman to ever hold that office with their victory in that November’s election. Though it may not seem like a huge deal now, her election really was a groundbreaker for women in this state and all of Amsterdam celebrated Krupsak’s achievement.  Krupsak could have been content to rest on her laurels and take advantage of the professional fringe benefits her success up to that point would certainly have delivered. But that wasn’t the way she worked. Instead, she made a valiant effort to use her office to try and reform the archaic, three-men-in- a-room decision-making process this state has operated under for way too many years. When Carey refused to give her a bigger role in the executive process, she declined to be his running mate in the next election and instead unsuccessfully ran against him for the Democratic nomination.

2. As a little girl she lived on Prospect Street…

3. Daisy Snooks Borst –  Daisy Snook was born in Amsterdam, NY in 1886. Her dad was a member of the same Snook family for whom the Snook’s Corners hamlet in the town of Florida and Snook’s Corners Rd. are both named. Her Mom was a Fairbanks, whose family’s roots in America dated all the way back to 1633. Daisy broke the mold for what it meant to be a female in the early twentieth century when she became the first woman ever admitted to Albany Law School. As if that wasn’t enough, she also graduated at the very top of her class in 1912. When she passed the New York State Bar, she became the first Montgomery County-born female lawyer in history.  She would go into private practice with Amsterdam attorney James Ferguson, becoming the first practicing female lawyer in the history of the Rug City. Make no mistake about it, Daisy’s gender made her professional life difficult in a judicial system dominated by men. In fact, often times Daisy would sign her briefs, “D.S. Borst” in an effort to disguise her sex. But she was a tough individual who could hold her own against her male counterparts in any venue. Their respect for her was apparent when she became the first female president of the Montgomery County Bar Association in 1950.

4. She danced with Astaire…

5. Carol Constantino – Having worked at Amsterdam’s Noteworthy Company in the late 1970’s, I learned firsthand how Tom Constantino had built that company from the ground up into one of the most respected and successful suppliers in the advertising specialty industry. He was such a powerful personality and so involved in every aspect of that enterprise’s operation, those of us who knew him well wondered how Noteworthy would survive when Constantino passed away in 1989, a victim of cancer. The answer of course was his wife, Carol Constantino. During Tom’s illness he gave Carol a crash course on the company and the industry and then this remarkable woman took it from there. During the next couple of decades she not only kept Noteworthy strong, she guided the business through a transition that saw its two best selling products, litterbags and photofinishing bags and sleeves, lose much of their popularity. She then retired and handed the reins of the business to her son Anthony.

6. She was a descendant of Martin Luther and her dad worked at the Schenectady GE main plant …

7. Clara Bacon – She, Marie Curie and the Mother of Jesus are the only three women to have Amsterdam Schools named in their honor. Curie and the Blessed Mother are in good company. Bacon’s maiden name was Clara Springstead and she was born in a well-to-do suburb of Albany, NY on September 19, 1886. Now pay close attention to the breadth and depth of the following credentials she put together as an educator. Why? They just don’t make educators like Clara Bacon very often any more.She graduated from Mount Holyoke College with a bachelor’s degree and earned her Masters at the University of Wisconsin. She also did graduate work for a PhD at Columbia. For eight years beginning in 1910, she taught Latin, German and English at the New York State Teachers College in Albany. She left that position in 1918 to become Supervisor of Immigrant Education for all of New York State. In 1922 she came to Amsterdam to serve as Assistant Superintendent and she remained in that position for the next quarter century, retiring in 1947. During the years she served in that position here in Amsterdam, Bacon also taught summer school at several of this state’s teacher colleges. She authored and co-authored three different textbooks for English in secondary schools and an entire series of spelling books for the elementary level. Her articles on educational curriculum frequently appeared in the nationally known Journal of Educational Methods. She was much in demand on the educational circuit as a guest lecturer. She was invited to speak about education at NYU, Columbia, Syracuse and Cornell numerous times. In addition, she served as President of the New York State Teachers Association, chaired a state ed. committee determining how to measure the success and effectiveness of elementary schools and served on another one that studied how to measure and improve teaching effectiveness. She also chaired the committee on education for the New York State League of Women Voters.

8. She broke the glass ceiling on Church Street…

9. Dr. Vicky Ramos – Much like my choice for number 9 on this list, even though she just arrived in our town, I believe Dr. Ramos deserves inclusion for crashing what had become a very thick glass ceiling by becoming the first woman ever selected to run the Greater Amsterdam School District when she was hired as Superintendent in August of 2016. Ms. Ramos also happens to be the first Latino school chief in district history as well. She spent the last quarter of a century working in the Rochester City School District as a Spanish teacher, building principal and program administrator. She received her doctorate degree in education from St. John Fisher College in Rochester. I met her at the 2016 Amsterdam High School Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and was absolutely impressed with her outgoing personality and enthusiasm for tackling the extremely challenging task that lay before her.

10. A WWII Spy…

My honorable mentions include Arlene Fontana, who was Amsterdam’s version of Liza Minnelli; Pat Beck, the hard-working publisher of a local newspaper; Sarah Brownell, a brilliant engineer and humanitarian; Marlena Ammerall Werder, a now retired Microsoft Vice President; the late Joanne Davey, Amsterdam’s all-time most amazing Mom and an outstanding supervisor of nursing at St. Mary’s Hospital and speaking of St. Mary’s,  Sister Mary Teresa, who headed that same health care facility with brilliance and compassion for so many years; Mary Galinski, who ran one of the most successful downtown retail stores in our community’s history; Kim Brumley, she made history by becoming the first person ever to hold both the offices of Amsterdam City Controller and Greater Amsterdam School District Business Manager …

Want more than just clues to number’s 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10? You’ll have to wait until my full Amsterdam All-Time Top Ten book comes out later this year to find out their names and read my tributes to each.

Once a month, I will be sending out a newsletter that includes a portion of the All Time Amsterdam Top Ten Lists I happen to be working on at the time. I will also use this monthly newsletter to announce the topics for upcoming Top Ten Lists and welcoming readers to put forth their own nominations for these compilations. If you’d like be included, please add your e-mail address here.

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