GENESEO — Eight-time Emmy Award winning television producer and Geneseo resident Gertrude Houston passed away June 1 at Buffalo’s Roswell Park Cancer Institute. She was 54 years old.
Ms. Houston, a graduate of Geneseo Central School and State University College of New York at Fredonia, was a well-known and well-loved member of the community. She was recently inducted into the Hall of Fame at Geneseo Central School.
Ms. Houston worked for television stations in Rochester, Washington and Pittsburgh before returning to Geneseo to continue work. She spent much of her time producing film and video for organizations such as United Way, the Rochester LPGA, the American Red Cross, the American Heart Association, the Discovery Channel, and Special Olympics.
Piper Wadsworth grew up with Houston, who was a long-time friend of her father, Geneseo Town Supervisor Will Wadsworth. She remembers Houston’s caring and fun attitude and how she influenced and supported her as a child.
“She was one of the women who were always there for all of the family events and that we grew up learning from,” said Wadsworth. “What struck me most was her genuine way of caring about other people. Being honestly interested in the well-being and passions of others and of course being a kind smiling face to look up to for many years.”
Houston also influenced another young local woman named Sara Kenney. Kenny’s babysitter from birth was Houston’s sister Kathleen, and she grew up thinking of Houston as an aunt who was always there for her.
Kenney, who is currently traveling in Sweden, learned about Houston’s death from her sister. She wrote a heartfelt tribute to Houston on her blog, “The Backpack of Life.”
“She lived life as passionately, loudly and brightly as she possibly could,” Kenney said of Houston. “Maybe that is why she was taken from us so early on; maybe she had lived her life at a faster pace than the rest of us.”
Though the pain of losing someone so close is with them, both Kenney and Wadsworth believe Houston will live on in the hearts of those who knew her.
“She was an independent, strong-willed, enthusiastic woman,” said Kenney, “and while cancer may have taken her down in the end, she will never be remembered as a woman who suffered from cancer. She will be remembered as the amazing sister, aunt, friend and confidant that she always was. She will always be remembered as the life of the party, always demanding attention to her stories, and constantly giving out as much love as she could, whether you asked for it or not.”
Wadsworth echoed Kenney’s thoughts.
“From what I understand she put up a hell of a fight,” said Wadsworth, “and I think everyone would agree that we are proud of her, not only for the courage of her final days but the whole span of her rich life. You can see by all of the loving memories and support her friends and family has showed that she truly was a special person and that her presence will be greatly missed in this community and many others.”
Calling hours are 3 to 8 p.m. today at Sweet Briar, 5126 Geneseo-Mount Morris Road in Geneseo, with a funeral mass at 11 a.m. Thursday at St. Mary Catholic Church in Geneseo. Memorials may be sent to the Geneseo Central School Drama Club, 4050 Avon Road, Geneseo, NY, 14454 or Arc of Livingston-Wyoming, 18 Main St., Mount Morris, NY 14510.