Jack and Dawn Cottrell

Jack and Dawn Cottrell
Honorary Inductees
Outstanding Achievement in Community Service

When trying to conjure up a humble, devoted couple who is more involved with the F-M school district and its community, you would be hard-pressed to come up with a better example than Dawn and Jack Cottrell. Both former members of the F-M Board of Education in addition to taking on countless other leadership roles between the pair, Dawn and Jack have been pivotal to the behind-the-scenes action of Fayetteville-Manlius for more than 50 years.

Born in Syracuse in 1918, Jack attended the Syracuse Public Schools and graduated from Syracuse University in 1941 with a master's degree in Civil Engineering. Meanwhile, his future wife, not so far away, graduated from Central High School and also attended S.U. for two years while taking courses at Powelson Business Institute. In 1947, Jack took over his family's surveying business, Cottrell Land Surveyors. He became an authority on roads, highways and historic survey documents, always happy to help anyone with information if asked and never letting his credentials get in the way of his generosity. 

To name a few off a long list of positions held, Jack was one of the founders, first presidents and treasurer of the Central New York Society of Land Surveyors, as well as a member of the American Congress of Surveying & Mapping.

Dawn has played an equally quintessential role in her family's surveying business. Since 1947, she has faithfully done office work such as bookkeeping, filing and arranging appointments seven days a week. The job prepared her well for her latest duty after sitting 28 years on the F-M Board of Education, nine simultaneously with her husband. In 2009, Dawn was appointed F-M historian, a position actually proposed by Dawn, herself. The job suits her well, as she has asserted that, "I've been the oldest board member in the state, but I'm also the oldest and longest-serving board member in the district." With her rich experience in surveying leaving piles of documents at her home office alone, and having lived in her 1858 brick farmhouse in Manlius for over 66 years, Dawn is able to combine her talents to tackle such difficult questions as district boundaries and tax maps.

Not that Dawn is new to controversy. During her tenure on the board, Dawn witnessed the three infamous votes for a new high school auditorium in the 1960s, a pool in the mid-'80s and, most recently, the turf vote. In this same period, Jack was helping to plan and construct three new school district buildings, lending his expertise in doing so. Dawn's greatest achievements also lie in property. In the early '90s, she and the board negotiated with the village  and two property owners to donate land on Broadfield Road, a former water source containing  30 natural springs. 

Today it is used to educate as an archaeological site. Her other great land acquisition was 80 acres along North Eagle Village road for a back entrance to the high school, without which the school would be an completely different place.

The Cottrells have additionally spread their kindness and vivacity for life outside of the district, sharing their home and homestead farm with over 35 foster children, as well as inviting local nursery schools to visit the farm to learn about the machinery and pet the animals. History could clearly be seen as a shared passion. Jack served as a director of the Onondaga County Historical Association, a member of the New York State Canal Society and of the National Trust for Historic Society, among others. The couple loves sharing their interests and has donated more than 200 books to the Village of Manlius Library and the F-M School District over the years.

After 71 years of marriage, dedication to F-M and trips around all of New York State, the United States and to over 21 countries, Jack passed away in December 2012. Nothing can keep Dawn away from being involved, though. In 2009, her spark was far from fading when she first lost her seat. She has stated, "I loved what I was doing, and I will continue to stay involved," such as volunteering in the schools, where she helps children read and write. 








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