Class of 2012
Truly a Renaissance Gentleman (1915-2014)
We would like to think of Fred Box as a journalist, community activist, sports enthusiast, historian, writer and editor for 42 years for the Elmira newspapers with service in Corning and Hornell.
He got ink in his blood early. His newspaper career began at age 9 peddling the Evening Leader on Corning’s Irish Hill. Later, he took an after school job in the Leader mailroom and soon became foreman. He actually got ink on his hands as a press room substitute.
He was a depression era graduate of Corning free Academy at 15 and may be the last member of the Class of 1930 according to Alumni Association records.
Starting as a sports writer part-time in Corning, he later moved to Elmira and served as manager of the Gannett news office in Hornell.
He enlisted in the Navy during WWII taking his newspaper experience to Sampson Naval Training Station and the U.S. Sagittarius in the Pacific. He wrote the ships’ newspaper and was designated a combat correspondent for Minecraft Pacific. The ship was at Okinawa when Japan surrendered.
Upon resuming duties at the Elmira Star Gazette in late 1945, he started a desk editor stint as Director of Correspondence, city editor, news editor, and when the Advertiser was wrapped into the Star Gazette, he became the managing editor for a few weeks, before becoming night news editor of the paper. Fred was promoted to assistant managing editor and retired as Sunday Telegram editor, which is now the Sunday edition of the paper.
Though he was active in West Elmira activities since moving there from Corning in 1946, it was his city desk service that put him in the center of Elmira’s activities. He shaped the newspaper’s support of every worthwhile civic program. With a newspaper rule that he could not serve as publicity chairperson for any organization, he served in an advisory role whenever asked. These included the City Emergency Planning Committee, whose planning probably saved many lives during the 1972 Flood. Also, he was a member of the advisory which opened the Mark Twain Golf Course, setting rules and staffing as well as arranging Walter Hagen’s exhibition.
Fred was past president of five groups, three connected with sports. Among them was the Elmira Lions Club in 1960 when the Eye Bank was established. He represented the club in the first Mark Twain Festival and parade and he later served as zone secretary. Long active in Boy Scouts, he was active as troop committeeman, Cub Master, neighborhood cub commissioner and served on the Council executive board. He received the National Scout Statuette Award for Cub leadership training.
After being bitten by the golf bug, Box was active at Elmira Country Club for nearly 50 years, playing the game until he was 87 while continuing to write a column for the State golf newspaper until 91 and assisting at tournaments until sight problems intervened. He was also a longtime member of the Finger Lakes Seniors Golf Association and served as president during some of his membership years.
When he moved to Elmira, Box remained active in softball, tennis and bowling but then added golf at the City course on East Hill, Mark Twain Golf Course and the Elmira Country Club to his sports repertoire.
After retirement, he continued to be an avid golfer with modest success winning the Elmira Country Club Seniors title and the Bob Smith trophy. Invited to join the New York State Golf Association, he was its first historian, wrote the comprehensive history of the organization and was the principle newsletter writer. In 2006, he was recognized for these efforts by being presented a plaque and designated historian-emeritus for perpetuity. Later, a media intern at the NYSGA was established in his name.
In addition to State golf history, he also wrote an Elmira Country Club history and assisted Tom Byrne with editing and writing the Chemung County history update.