May 03, 2013
Newburgh, NY -
William Kaplan, James Patterson, and Sandra Gerry to
address Mount graduates
(Left) Entrepreneur and philanthropist William Kaplan. (Middle)
Best-selling author James Patterson. (Right) Chair of Sullivan
Renaissance Sandra Gerry.
Fr. Kevin E. Mackin, OFM, president of Mount Saint Mary College,
will recognize more than 600 bachelor’s and master’s degree
candidates during the 50th annual commencement ceremony on May
The College will also confer honorary doctorate degrees upon
best-selling author James Patterson, chair of Sullivan Renaissance
Sandra Gerry, and entrepreneur and philanthropist William
James Patterson holds The New York Times record and a Guinness
World Record for the most hardcover fiction bestselling titles – 89
The prolific writer’s latest four books, all being published
this year, are “12th of Never,” “Second Honeymoon,” “Mistress,” and
“Middle School: How I Survived Bullies, Broccoli, and Snake
The New York Times Magazine hails Patterson as having
“transformed book publishing.” He’s had 19 consecutive #1
bestselling novels. He is the first author to have #1 new titles
simultaneously on The New York Times adult and children's
bestsellers lists. And he is the only author to have five new
hardcover novels debut at #1 in one year: a feat he's accomplished
year after year.
In total, Patterson’s books have sold an estimated 275 million
His critically acclaimed “Maximum Ride” series debuted on The
New York Times bestsellers list at #1 and the series has so far has
spent more than 100 weeks on the list. He also created the
top-selling detective series featuring fictional psychologist Alex
Cross, including the Hollywood-adapted “Along Came a Spider” and
“Kiss the Girls” starring Academy Award-winning actor Morgan
In addition to being an author, Patterson is an advocate, with
the James Patterson Pageturner Awards, rewarding others for
spreading the joy of reading, and also James Patterson’s College
Sullivan Renaissance began as Sandra Gerry’s vision. She
believes that residents can use flowers and gardens to enhance the
appearance of Sullivan County, while also cultivating community
pride and spirit.
The importance of beautification has long been considered a
fundamental component of tourism-related economic development.
Now completing its 13th year, Sullivan Renaissance has grown
into a year-round community development program involving thousands
of volunteers from all 15 towns in the county.
Sullivan Renaissance offers programs that work directly with
municipalities, businesses and seasonal communities. There are also
yearly conferences, monthly educational seminars, college
scholarship opportunities for volunteers, and summer internship
Innovative initiatives have included installation of solar
lampposts, the testing of alternative energy vehicles, and
development of community edible gardens in non-traditional
In addition to beautification and environmental efforts as a
“renaissance woman,” for many years Gerry has been an integral part
of the Sullivan County Community College Foundation’s Annual
Scholarship Benefit Gala. As an educator and having been involved
in the teaching profession, the success of scholarship programs is
one of her special concerns, raising more than $1 million in
She is also Director of Allocations for the Beaverkill
Foundation, established by the Gerrys to assist charitable causes
in Sullivan County. She serves on the board of the Gerry
Foundation, Inc., as well: the family foundation established in
part to benefit the economy by developing the world class
performing arts center, Bethel Woods, at the site of the original
Woodstock Festival in Bethel, NY.
As a successful businessman, William Kaplan has provided
employment for thousands: at the Regal Bag Corporation, which he
started in Newburgh shortly after World War II, and then at A.C.
Moore arts and crafts, which he co-founded and grew from a single
store to 130 outlets.
He also generously collaborated to build numerous other
organizations, serving on the Board of Trustees of St. Luke’s
Hospital, Norstar Bank of the Hudson Valley, the Hudson-Delaware
Council of the Boy Scouts of America, the Jewish Federation of
Orange County, Hospice of Orange and Sullivan Counties, and Mount
Saint Mary College.
Kaplan and his beloved late wife Elaine passed their sense of
commitment along to daughters Joan, Sheila, Deborah, and Amy.
Daughter Joan and grandson Jonathan graduated from the Mount and
joined the College’s board.
Kaplan’s persistence encouraged the Mount Saint Mary College
Board to take “a leap of faith” and acquire the properties for
Hudson Hall and Sakac Hall. He has supported the Mount through
scholarships and in projects including the Hudson Hall renovation;
Elaine and William Kaplan Recreation Center and fields; the
Mathematics, Science & Technology Center; and the Dominican
The Kaplan Family Foundations have provided major funding for
much-needed facilities via St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital, McQuade
and St. Christopher’s, Greater Hudson Valley Family Health Center,
Habitat, Occupations, Inc., Hospice, Kol Yisrael Campus, and SUNY
Orange, with which the Mount has an agreement for transfers.
Kaplan continues to show faith in the City of Newburgh,
investing in projects which enrich the lives of residents. Long a
catalyst for grassroots projects, he now serves as chair of the
Board of Directors of the Newburgh Armory Unity Center: a
collaboration of people from organizations and businesses – and
with many Mount volunteers – with the aims of education and
Kaplan has also championed the National Purple Heart Hall of