Hall of Fame Class of 2009
Albany High School Class of 1989
Former Major League Baseball player; director of Pacific Rim scouting for the Houston Astros
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, education was Glen Barker’s ticket to success. That his athletic dream came true was a testament to hard work and dedication, traits that also served him well as a student at Albany High School and The College of St. Rose.
Glen graduated from Albany High in 1989 and St. Rose in 1993, with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. Drafted by the Major League Baseball’s Detroit Tigers soon after his college graduation, he went on to play nine years of professional baseball.
That included 235 games over three seasons (1999-2001) with the Houston Astros, where his teammates included stars such as Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Derek Bell, Doc Gooden and Roy Oswalt.
Today he is the Astros’ director of Pacific Rim scouting.
Glen credits his parents with instilling in him the value of education. He considers his greatest non-baseball achievement the opportunity to earn a college degree while playing the sport he loved in college.
The City School District of Albany extends its warm congratulations to Glen Barker and his family.
Albany City Treasurer
Betty Barnette has served as the City of Albany’s treasurer since her appointment by the late Mayor Thomas Whalen in 1991. She is the first woman to serve as an elected public official for the city, and the first African-American to serve since the 19th century.
In addition to her role as city treasurer for 18 years, Ms. Barnette has been an active and involved community member throughout her life.
A graduate of the Manpower Training Center created in the early 1960s by President Kennedy to assist inner-city residents advance their education and careers, Ms. Barnette went on to graduate from Maria College and practice as
a critical-care nurse. She later earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from The College of St. Rose.
Ms. Barnette worked as a surgical intensive care nurse at Albany’s Veterans Hospital for 10 years, and as the first urgent-care coordinator at the Whitney M. Young Jr. Health Center. She became director of the Arbor Hill Community Center in 1984. Under her leadership, the center became the first community-based organization to implement a state-funded substance-abuse prevention program for school-age children.
In 1991 the center was recognized with the United Way’s Spotlight Agency of the Year Award.
Ms. Barnette currently serves on the board of numerous professional and community-based organizations, including the University at Albany School of Social Welfare Advisory Council, the National Black Child Development Institute and the United Women’s Council.
Among a long list of honors and recognition, Ms. Barnette received the 2009 Catherine McAuley Award for Distinguished Service to the Capital District Community and the 2009 In Our Own Voices Community Service Award.
Philip Schuyler High School Class of 1957
One of the most successful actors to graduate from Albany’s public schools, William Devane was trained at New York City’s American Academy of Dramatic Arts following his graduation from Philip Schuyler High School in 1957.
He is perhaps best known for his starring role alongside Dustin Hoffman, Sir Laurence Olivier and Roy Scheider in “Marathon Man” in 1976. He also played a major role in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Family Plot,” also released in 1976. He starred in “The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training,” released in 1977.
He also has played TV roles in programs such as “Knot’s Landing,” on which he was a regular for a decade, and as politicians, including presidents, in “The West Wing,” “24” and “Stargate SG-1.”
Albany High School Class of 1991
Stefon Harris is one of the greatest musical talents to emerge from Albany’s public schools.
A 1991 graduate of Albany High School, Mr. Harris is a Grammy-nominated jazz vibraphonist. He has been hailed by the Los Angeles Times as “one of the most important young artists in jazz.”
Following his graduation from Albany High – where he also served as captain of the wrestling team – Mr. Harris earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from
the Manhattan School of Music in New York City. While there, he secured his first professional gigs with legendary artists Max Roach, Wynton Marsalis and Cassandra Wilson. He has played with several jazz luminaries, including Kenny Barron, Steve Turre, Kurt Elling and Charlie Hunter.
He has toured internationally and played in some of the world’s most celebrated concert halls. He released his most recent CD, “Urbanus,” on the Concord Records label in August.
Mr. Harris credits the Empire State Youth Orchestra with helping him during his formative years, and he has maintained an association with ESYO in the years since his high school graduation. Mr. Harris and his band, Blackout, are scheduled to be in Albany in early December for the taping of the “Melodies of Christmas.”
Albany mayor, former Albany High School vice principal
For nearly 40 years as an educator and civic leader, Albany Mayor Gerald D. Jennings has provided guidance and leadership to young people and the community.
Mayor Jennings was elected mayor in 1993 following 22 years as a teacher and administrator in Albany’s public schools.
He began his career in 1971 as a social studies teacher at the former Philip Schuyler High School. He transferred to Albany High School when the city’s two public high schools merged in 1973, and a year later entered into an administrative track that culminated in 1979 with his appointment as Albany High’s vice principal, a position he held he became Albany’s 74th mayor.
Mayor Jennings has forged a renewal in the city’s downtown as well as its historic neighborhoods. He has targeted crime, job creation and programs for young people, and has remained deeply rooted in the principles of cooperation, inclusiveness and civic engagement.
In June 2009 he led a delegation from the city, including the school district, that successfully earned Albany recognition from the National Civic League as an “All-American City.”
Philip Schuyler High School Class of 1948
Before graduating from Philip Schuyler High School in 1948, Henry “Hank” Landau participated in the testing of two atomic bombs while enlisted in the U.S. Navy. After earning his high school degree, Mr. Landau began a career that would make him one of the area’s most active labor leaders.
Mr. Landau began his career as a journeyman sheet metal worker in 1948. Thirteen years later he became a business representative for his union, Local 83, and in 1967 was elected president and business manager, a position he held for 24 years.
In 1984, New York State AFL-CIO President Edward Clearly asked Mr. Landau to become the first CEO of the State of New York Building and Construction Trades Council. Former Gov. Mario Cuomo appointed him to the New York State Labor Advisory Council, and he continues to serve on Albany’s Vocational Advisory Board, a position he began in 1970.
Among many community projects, Mr. Landau coordinated the construction of Albany’s Capital Repertory Theater and was involved in renovations of the Ronald McDonald House.
Albany High School Class of 1965
Former National Football League player
Perhaps the best-known athlete to graduate from Albany’s public schools, Charles Irving “Tinky” Leigh Sr. went on to become a member of one of the most storied teams in the history of the National Football League.
A 1965 graduate of Albany High School, Mr. Leigh led Albany to an undefeated season as a senior, including the Class A championship.
He then became one of only three men to go directly to the NFL from high school, signing with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1965.
A running back and kick and punt returner, he played with the Cleveland Browns in 1968-69 and then four seasons for the Miami Dolphins at the height of their power in the early 1970s.
He was a member of three Super Bowl teams, including back-to-back champions in 1972-73. During the Dolphins’ unprecedented 17-0 season of 1972, he finished fourth in the AFC in kickoff returns and was the leading tackler on the kickoff team. He played alongside numerous NFL greats under coach Don Shula, including Paul Warfield, Larry Csonka, Bob Griese, Jim Kiick and Mercury Morris.
Mr. Leigh played a final NFL season with the Green Bay Packers in 1974. He returned to Albany and worked with the school district as a security officer and as an assistant football coach at Albany High under Alex Sokaris.
In 2007, the football field at Bleecker Stadium was named in his honor. He will be remembered not only for his great athletic ability, but also for his humility, character and pride in his city, his family and his school district.
Albany High School Class of 1978
Athletic administrator, former volleyball player and coach
When she was an undersized middle blocker at Michigan State University, Nona Richardson’s coaches often were asked where they found such a talented player.
At Albany High School, of course.
Ms. Richardson, a 1978 Albany High alumna, played basketball and volleyball in high school. But a back injury her senior year limited her basketball opportunities, and her focus turned to volleyball.
She worked hard to overcome a relative late start in the sport and went on to become one of the best players in Michigan State history. She helped upset national powerhouse Purdue in the 1980 NCAA regional semifinals, and as a senior in 1981 led the Spartans in kills (379) and total blocks (84).
Ms. Richardson went on to coach at Kentucky, Eastern Michigan and Valparaiso. She held positions in athletic administration at Valparaiso and Ball State before moving into her current position as senior associate athletic director at the University of California-Davis.
Philip Schuyler High School Class of 1948
Norman Shapiro is a clown. Seriously.
His role as “Nippie,” and as president of the organization Town Clowns, is one of many ways Mr. Shapiro has dedicated his life to helping put
a smile on people’s faces.
From the age of 15, when he taught swimming for the Red Cross at Lincoln Park, to the 26 years he has volunteered in the kitchen for the Equinox Thanksgiving Dinner, Mr. Shapiro has spent more than 60 years in selfless pursuits.
A water safety and SCUBA instructor. A clown at “Camp Good Days” and in children’s hospital wings. Commander of the Jewish War Veterans and chancellor commander of the Knights of Pythias 540.
In 1975, he helped start a radiothon for leukemia and raised more than $55,000. He was recognized as Leukemia Volunteer of the Year for those efforts, just as he had been recognized 14 years earlier as Red Cross Volunteer of the Year. In 1980 he was recognized as Pythian of the Year, and in 2005 received the Four Chaplains Award for Community Service.
Former Albany High School boys’ varsity basketball coach
An educator for 38 years and a revered basketball coach for 23, Nate Sutin had a significant impact on the lives of two generations of students in Albany’s public schools.
During his tenure as boys’ varsity basketball coach from 1938-61, Albany High School posted a 279-88 record and won three sectional championships. A strong disciplinarian, Mr. Sutin also won the respect and admiration of his players and students.
He was an icon in Capital Region sports from his playing days at Van Rensselaer High School, where he was a key member of a team that reached the state championship game in 1927 (beating Albany High along the way), until his retirement from Albany High 34 years later.
In his last teaching position after nearly four decades as an educator, Mr. Sutin served as coordinator of the School-to-Employment Program, which helped 15- and 16-year-olds find jobs.
Youth soccer coordinator
When he was seven years old, Antonio “Tony” Tirino’s father, Pasquale, returned home after serving Italy in World War II. Pasquale Tirino brought home two soccer balls, a simple act that ultimately would have a major impact on the lives of thousands of Albany children.
The Tirinos moved to America in 1956 and settled in Albany. After many years of success at the club level, Tony Tirino became a founding member of the Albany Junior Soccer Program in 1972. The program began with 36 children and grew over the decades to involve hundreds of children and families each year through the tireless commitment and love of Mr. Tirino and other volunteers.
Mayor Gerald D. Jennings recognized Mr. Tirino’s dedication by proclaiming Feb. 23, 1997, as “Tony Tirino Day” in the city, and in April 1999 the mayor also dedicated soccer fields in Mr. Tirino’s honor.
Today, the city’s recreational soccer program, as well as an independent club soccer program, continue on under the guidance of Mr. Tirino’s simple motto: “For the kids.”
Albany High School Class of 1968
Scholar, athlete, artist
An accomplished student, athlete and artist, Pheoris West always was a man of many talents.
A 1968 Albany High School graduate, Mr. West was a member of the first class of students selected for the district’s Academically Talented Program. He competed in wrestling and track in high school, and went on to compete in track at the State University of New York College at Brockport, where he surpassed 23 feet in the long jump.
Art was his first love. Mr. West excelled in various mediums, particularly oil painting and acrylics. He studied at the prestigious Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, and became well respected in the art community there, hosting several one-man shows in Philadelphia, New York and other cities around the country.
He won the distinguished Cresson Fellowship, which give him the opportunity to further his education at Yale University. He also was a winner of the Scheivp International Traveling Fellowship, which allowed him to study in Europe. He is one of only two African-Americans in the history of the Academy to receive both distinguished awards.
Mr. West was a member of the faculty at The Ohio State University for 40 years beginning in 976. He was one of the top practitioners of watercolor painting in the United States.
Mr. West died Jan. 23, 2021. You can read more about his life in The Columbus Dispatch.
Albany High School Class of 1972
Charlayne Woodard is one of the most successful theater performers to graduate from Albany’s public schools
Trained at the Goodman School of Drama in Chicago following her graduation from Albany High School in 1972, Ms. Woodard has been a prolific TV, movie and stage actress and playwright for more than 30 years.
She was nominated for Broadway’s 1978 Tony Award as Best Actress for her featured role in the musical “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” a performance she recreated in the television version with the same title in 1982.
Her credits include more than 50 roles, including appearances on well-known TV shows such as “Taxi,” “Chicago Hope,” “Roseanne,” “Days of Our Lives,” “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit,” “Frasier” and “ER.”
Her solo plays, including “In Real Life,” “Neat” and “Pretty Fire,” have received numerous awards.
Albany High School Class of 1948
Athlete, educator, humanitarian
For more than 60 years, athletics, education and community service have been the driving forces in Robert Wygant’s life.
A 1948 graduate of Albany High School, where he played football, basketball and baseball, Mr. Wygant earned a Division I athletic scholarship to Rutgers University. He participated in football, basketball and track, and graduated from Rutgers with a bachelor’s degree in education in 1952. He earned a master’s in school administration from the University at Albany in 1960 and spent 31 years as a teacher, coach and administrator.
Mr. Wygant was raised in the Albany Home for Children, now Parsons Child and Family Center, and he has given back to the organization throughout his life.
He has been active in numerous civic organizations and endeavors, most prominently as a supporter of Parsons. He is an honorary board member, serves on the Oversight Committee, presents an annual sportsmanship award and Therapeutic Activities Center named in his honor.