Revered Local Businessman Joined
By Sally G. Herbert, Entrepreneur
ONEONTA – Bill Davis, ’49, retired president of the Country Club Auto group and a former Hartwick College trustee, will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree at the college’s 2019 commencement at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, May 18, on Elmore Field, it was announced today.
Another former trustee, Sally Griffiths Herbert, ’88, a successful entrepreneur in New Hampshire with her husband Tom, will receive an honorary Doctor of Letters.
“It will be a joy to honor Bill and Sally,” said Hartwick President Margaret L. Drugovich. “Their dedication to advancing the college – as former trustees, as loyal supporters through the years – sets an example for us all.
“Moreover, they lead positive change in the communities they inhabit,” she said, “and have done so throughout their lives. This is an aspiration the College holds for all of our graduates.”
Bill Davis, a Sidney native, earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Hartwick in 1949. He is a brother of Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity. He would go on to become a legendary figure in the greater Oneonta business community.
In the mid-1950s, he became co-owner of The Ford/Mercury dealership in Walton, expanding the business in the 1960s with a Chrysler/Plymouth dealership in Oneonta. By retirement, he had created Country Club Automotive Group, selling Chevrolets, Cadillacs and other GM lines on one side of Oneida Street, and Nissans on the other. Time magazine named him Automobile Dealer of the Year in 1994. He continues as an adviser.
He served on the boards of Wilber Bank and the Future of Oneonta Foundation, and was a member of both the Oneonta and Sidney Rotary Clubs, and Sidney Chamber of Commerce and state Automobile Dealers Association.
His many honors include Otsego Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Citizen Award, the Marquis Who’s Who Distinction, and the United Way of Delaware & Otsego Counties Community Spirit Award. Davis has been a supporter of many community organizations, including the Tri-Valley Horseman’s Association and the Otschodela (now Leatherstocking) Council of Boy Scouts of America.
Davis served 16 years as a Hartwick College trustee, which included terms as board treasurer and vice chair. He also served on a number of committees and held a leadership role for many of them, including vice chair of enrollment, institutional advancement, and budget, and chair of audit, and buildings & grounds. He also served on the Hartwick Alumni Association Council.
For his dedication to the College, Davis has received several accolades over the years. He was awarded the Hartwick College Alumni Association Meritorious Service Award in 1995, named Trustee Emeritus in 2004, and was awarded the Hartwick College President’s Medal in 2005.
Griffiths Herbert earned a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Hartwick in 1988, graduating with departmental distinction and a minor in biology.
She worked as a field archaeologist for the Office of Public Archeology at Boston University on the Central Artery/Tunnel (Big Dig) Project of Boston. She and Tom then went into business together — first as the owners of Ski Whaleback, Ltd. ski resort, now as owners of Ring Brook Farm..
She was a Hartwick trustee from 2009-2018, chairing the Facilities Committee (2016-2018), and the Student Affairs Committee (2011-2016). She attended many events over the years, including True Blue/Homecoming Weekend, the Wick Athletic Auction, Partners in Scholars Luncheon, JCH Reception, and Honors Convocation.
In 2014, Sally Griffiths Herbert ’88 Aquatic Center was named in her honor for the support she provided.
Griffiths Herbert and her husband support a wide array of Hartwick initiatives, including the Sarah Griffiths ’88 and Timothy Herbert Endowed J Term Scholarship, The Pine Lake Institute and Pine Lake Challenge funds, and the Emerson International Internship Scholarship. They also support the All Greek Textbook Scholarship, and have supported the purchase of Commencement Bells for Hartwick graduates.
Most recently, they donated $1.25 million to endow the Griffiths Center for Collaboration & Innovation (GCCI), Hartwick College’s hub for out-of-the-box thinking and creative problem solving. The GCCI will provide programming that encourages collaborative idea incubation and development both in and out of the classroom.