The LaFave Children
The Greta and Aziel LaFave Memorial Scholarship was established in 2009 by the LaFave children, four of whom attended JCC and were later involved in education, to assist natives of Jefferson, Lewis, and St. Lawrence Counties attending the college in any field of study. Education was very important to the LaFaves, as evidenced by Greta returning to college to acquire her teaching certificate after most of her children had left home, and Aziel being on the Indian River Central School Board for many years. Both were strong supporters of American Field Service (AFS) and other study abroad programs, hosting many international students in their home.
Born Dorothy Greta Thompson on September 30, 1916 in Montevideo, Uruguay, Greta graduated as salutatorian of her class from Perry High School, Perry, N.Y. in 1934 and received a Diploma as a Registered Nurse from Syracuse University in 1937. From 1938 to 1940 she was Lieutenant J.G. in the U.S. Naval Nurses Reserve (inactive).
She began her career at NY Children’s Hospital in NY City. Certified as a public health nurse, she was one of the original public health nurses of the Jefferson County Public Health Service. In her late 50s she returned to college and obtained a New York State teaching certificate. Later she was a school nurse-teacher in the Indian River Central and Watertown City School districts. After retirement, she was employed part-time as a Rehabilitation Teacher Aide with the NY State Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped.
She was involved in many volunteer activities for various organizations including AFS, American Red Cross, Public Television, and the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired of Jefferson County. She enjoyed Literacy Volunteers as both board member and tutor. She was a member of the Theresa Progress Club.
Mrs. LaFave was always willing to help anyone in any way that she could. For several years she provided space in her home for the local food pantry. She enjoyed music, gardening, travel, and reading.
Aziel LaFave was born July 17, 1915 on a small family dairy farm in Theresa, NY. He graduated from Theresa High School in 1933 and studied land surveying and civil engineering at Syracuse University. He completed additional work in photogrammetry at George Washington University. He was licensed to practice Land Surveying, which he did until 1980 and—as one person noted—“knew every inch of the North Country.”
Mr. LaFave was a volunteer officer candidate in the U.S. Army and also worked with the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey in Washington, D.C. and in Nassau, Bahamas. During World War II, his duties included working on tide computations and nautical charts in preparation for the Battle of the Philippines.
Mr. LaFave was a founder and retired senior partner of LaFave, White & McGivern, a surveying and photogrammetric mapping firm with its main office in Theresa, where he worked from 1946–1980. He performed the design survey for and layout of the Ogdensburg-Prescott International Bridge, and supervised the preliminary survey for the Olympic ski jumps at Lake Placid. He surveyed for many of the newly created Central School Districts in the North Country, and was also chief surveyor for the original construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway.
He was a member emeritus of the American Society of Photogrammetry, the American Congress of Surveying and Mapping, and the Canadian Institute of Geomatics. An environmentalist and author, he was published in The Conservationist, Adirondac, and Adirondack Life magazines.
He was Town of Theresa historian, and was a member of the boards of the Town of Theresa, Village of Theresa, and the Theresa Free Library. He was instrumental in the creation of the Theresa Medical Facility, which brought medical and dental care to the community.
Mr. LaFave enjoyed music, the Arts, hiking, and being an outdoor guide. A true friend of the North Country, he received a 1993 North Country Citation from St. Lawrence University, Canton.
Greta and Aziel met at Syracuse University and were married at Hendricks Chapel there on February 11, 1940. They were members of the Theresa Presbyterian Church for more than 50 years, where they were choir members. For many of those years she was a Sunday School teacher and he was clerk of the session. Mr. and Mrs. LaFave were honored in 1980 as Theresa’s Citizens of the Year.
Aziel died on Memorial Day, 2009, at age 93. Greta died July 16, 2009 at age 92. They had been married for 69 years.
The Jefferson Community College Foundation is grateful to the children of Greta and Aziel LaFave for creating this scholarship.