News of Otsego County

Tony Drago

LEONE: Battle Of Bulge Reminds Us Of Drago, Nader’s Sacrifice

Battle Of Bulge Reminds Us

Of Drago, Nader’s Sacrifice

To the Editor:

It’s always the right time to be thankful for our veterans who have served selflessly around the world so that we at home can live in peace.

The 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge reminds me of the privations and sacrifice these magnificent soldiers faced all those years ago.

I recommend Academy Award winning movie, “Patton,” to see a depiction of the frozen hell that came crashing down upon the hundreds of thousands of American heroes who were literally sacrificing life and limb to free the world from the grip of Nazi tyranny.

And, yes, we have two of those heroes living and thriving among us, the incomparable Tony Drago and Sam Nader.



Drago Honored At Veteran’s Concert


Dean Of Oneonta

WWII Vets, Drago

Honored At Concert

Gene Schmidt, organizer of this afternoon’s 10th Mountain Division Jazz Band concert, shakes hand with World War II veteran Tony Drago, Oneonta, after Drago was honored with a surprise mayoral proclamation preceding this afternoon’s performance in the SUNY Alumni Field House. At 97, Drago is among the city’s oldest surviving veterans.  At right, soloist Sgt. Michelle Dykes, stationed Fort Drum near Watertown,  sings while accompanied by Specialist Derrick on tuba. (Ian Austin/

Drago’s’ Jackets ReachedPinnacle In 1960 Season


Drago’s’ Jackets Reached

Pinnacle In 1960 Season

Legendary Coach Knew Star’s Grandparents


Legendary OHS basketball coach Tony Drago reviews newspaper coverage of his 1960 unbeaten, untied team. (Jennifer Hill/

ONEONTA – Defying predictions, a boys’ basketball team from a small Otsego County town takes an early, wide lead over a big city team in the state’s final tournament, dominates throughout, and wins its first-ever state championship.

That happened on Sunday, March 17, 2019, when Cooperstown’s Hawkeyes beat Buffalo’s Middle Early College, 71-61, for the Class C state championship.

Almost 60 years ago, March 27, 1960, virtually the same thing happened. The local team was the Oneonta High School Yellow Jackets.

In 1960, the boys took an early, wide lead over Syracuse Central Tech, kept the lead throughout the game – at one point, they were 19 points ahead – and won, 64-53.  It was OHS’ – and the county’s – first state-level win.

OHS Grad Brings Artifacts From Armory Back To City

OHS Grad Brings Artifacts

From Armory Back To City

Retired OHS Athletic Director Tony Drago, left, greets one of his former students, Courtney T. Burns, now director of the state Military Museum & Veterans Research Center in Saratoga Springs. Burns was in Oneonta Thursday and today installing “Oneonta’s Own: The State Militia & National Guard in Oneonta, 1812-2003,” the new exhibit at the Oneonta History Center.  It opened this afternoon and features artifacts from the city’s former Armory on Academy Street that were moved to the museum when the local facility was merged into one in Walton in 2003.  Drago reminded Burns that OHS, when it was located on Academy Street, had a rifle team that used to practice across the street at a range in the Armory’s basement.   Looking on is GOHS member Art Torrey.  The exhibit runs until the end of August.  (Jim Kevlin/
OCCB Salutes Veterans With Free Concert

Veterans Enjoy OCCB’s Salute

Veterans, families and friends gathered to enjoy selections of historical patriotic music performed this afternoon by the  Oneonta Community Concert Band at it’s 17th annual Salute To Veterans Concert at the Foxcare Center.  Above, local veterans Tony Drago, Army, and John Brooks, Air Corps, applaud as the band finishes “Hail To The Spirit of Liberty” by John Philip Sousa. At right, Gretchen Becker, Walton, on tuba, and percussionists Ben Wendrow, Oneonta, and Dave Geasey, Oneonta, perform “The Official West Point March” by Philip Egner. (Ian Austin/

All Recall Former Mayor’s Vitality, Civic Duty, Humor

All Recall Former Mayor’s Vitality, Civic Duty, Humor

Jim Georgeson, 1919-2014


Edition of Friday, Nov. 14, 2014

When Sam Nader succeeded Jim Georgeson as mayor in 1960, he found nothing that Georgeson had left behind. “I said to him, ‘You didn’t even leave me a sheet of paper’!” recalled Nader. “And he said, ‘I knew you were smart enough that you could figure it out’!”

Georgeson, 95, died Wednesday, Oct. 22, at The Otsego Manor, three days before the sitting Mayor Dick Miller’s unexpected passing. But he was remembered by 200 family members and friends at a service on Saturday, Nov. 8, at Lewis, Hurley & Pietrobono as a man who loved the community.

“He was a good counselor,” said David Brenner, SUNY Oneonta vice president emeritus, whose office across the hall when Georgeson served as the college’s director of community relations. “If you had a problem, he would give you good advice.”

Born in Oneonta in 1919, Georgeson lived most of his life here, although he graduated from Norwich High School in 1937. “He would always brag that he was part of the undefeated football team there,” said Tony Drago, the retired OHS coach and athletic director.

Georgeson began his education at Hartwick College, but when World War II broke out he joined the Army Air Corps and served as a supervising officer in Tyndall Field in Panama City, Fla. Though he was discharged in 1946, he remained active with the Air Force Reserves until 1969, retiring as a lieutenant colonel. “He stayed in as long as they would let him!” said Drago.

In 1959, he was elected mayor on the Democratic ticket at a time when Republicans outnumbered Democrats two to one. “He worked across the aisles,” said Brenner. “If someone brought him an issue, he would say, ‘I’m going to check with a few people, because this affects them too’ rather than just confronting the issue head-on. He would tell people who came to him, ‘I won’t forget you, don’t worry,’ and take the message there personally.”

And although he was only in office for two years – he was the last mayor to serve in this term – he started applying for many of the programs and grants that would begin Oneonta’s urban renewal. “He helped secure grants for housing and infrastructure,” said Brenner. “The new water treatment plant needed money, so he went to Albany and got that from the state.”

But even more than mayor, he was remembered as the city’s predominant master of ceremonies. “If you went to an event and he didn’t refer to you at least once, you didn’t belong in Oneonta,” said Tony Drago. “He could play a crowd like nobody could.”

For 20 years, he was in demand as the emcee at fundraisers, banquets and dinners. “He always had a zinger,” said Brenner. “He’d pick out something that happened to you 20 years ago, something you hoped people would forget, and he’d zing you for it!”

But just as he could dish out a jab, he could take it too. “One time he lost control of his lawn tractor and drove it right into Goodyear Lake,” said Drago. “Nobody ever let him forget that!”

His active citizenship wasn’t limited to his stint in City Hall. He was president or board chairman of the Greater Oneonta Chamber of Commerce, Oneonta YMCA Board of Directors, Oneonta Kiwanis Club, Hartwick College Alumni Association, Oneonta City Democratic Committee, the Community Chest (now the United Way) and Parent Teacher Organizations of Center Street and Oneonta Junior High Schools.

In 2003, he and his wife, Charlotte, were honored by the Future for Oneonta Foundation as Mr. and Mrs. Oneonta, as well as Hartwick College Outstanding Citizen and service awards from SUNY and the YMCA.

He was also honored with a street named in his honor. James Georgeson Avenue, which runs through Neahwa Park, was renamed from Gas Avenue. “We told him that was a perfect street for him, because he was so full of it!” said Drago.

“He was a first-rate citizen,” said Brenner. “You couldn’t ask for a better person.”

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