The Chautauqua Region Community Foundation’s John D. Hamilton Community Service Award is given annually to the individual who has shown dedication, leadership and support in furthering community spirit and enhancing life in the Chautauqua Region. This year’s recipient, The Honorable Joseph Gerace, has consistently demonstrated these traits and exemplifies the intent of this award.
The Honorable Joseph Gerace was born and raised in Chautauqua County. Following his graduation from Lakewood High School, he then went on to earn his degrees from Denison University and Albany Law School.
His professional career includes over 50 years of service to the public. His public service involvement began with his election as Town of Busti Supervisor in 1957 and continues today through an appointment as Judicial Hearing Officer presiding over Summary Jury Trials and Tax Certiorari cases.
Like John D. Hamilton, Judge Gerace’s great enthusiasm and willingness to go that extra mile has served local organizations well. His past and present community involvement includes: Lakewood Volunteer Fire Department, Lakewood Business Association, Lakewood Area Chamber of Commerce, supporting youth baseball and recreation activities through the Southwestern Booster Club, Lakewood Memorial Library, Masons, NYS Grange, American Legion, Farm Bureau and Kiwanis. He has served the Lakewood Methodist Church as Lay Minister, Lay Leader and as Chairman of the Official Board.
His civic awards include the prestigious Robert H. Jackson 33° Award for Community Service in 2006. In 2007, he received the Jamestown Bar Association Award for Outstanding Community Service.
Recently, he helped organize and draft incorporation papers for the Chautauqua Lake Rowing Association to bring the sport of rowing back to Chautauqua Lake.
Judge Gerace has been very supportive of the Robert H. Jackson Center, having participated in Annual Law Day programs for area students for the past three years and moderated Black History Month programs sponsored by the Jackson Center. In concert with Arthur N. Bailey, Esq., the duo organized the Robert H. Jackson Center American Inn of Court in 2006. The mission of the Inn of Court is to foster excellence in legal skills, professionalism, ethics and civility for attorneys and judges through legal education programs and seminars. Using the RHJ Center’s Inn of Court as a vehicle, The People’s Law School at Jamestown Community College was established.
This award was presented in admiration and honor of the many facets of The Honorable Joseph Gerace. He has forever changed the complexion of the governmental process at all levels and continues to make his mark in the archives of local history and impact on our community.