BCHS honors three alumni
Hall of Fame members include NBC News president, Navy captain, singer/songwriter

  By ROBERT LOPEZ, Staff writer
First published: Saturday, June 25, 2005

ALBANY -- A singer/songwriter, a television executive and the captain of a U.S. aircraft carrier were the inaugural inductees for Bethlehem Central High School's Hall of Fame.


The three alumni -- musician Jo-Carol Block Davidson, NBC News president Neal Shapiro and Dennis FitzPatrick, the commanding officer of the USS John F. Kennedy -- were honored during the school's commencement at the University at Albany Friday night. They now will have their pictures displayed in the school's lobby.

''They have all been recognized on a national as well as an international level as being among the best in their business,'' Bethlehem English teacher Beth Anderson said during the ceremony. FitzPatrick, who graduated in 1976, showed up Friday in his white naval uniform, chest decked in medals. A 24-year veteran of the Navy, he assumed command of one of the nation's 12 aircraft carriers in October. ''I was working at the Joint Forces Command in Norfolk (Virginia) when I found out,'' he said. ''That was a great phone call. Working in Norfolk was a hard duty. I told my boss I'm out of here.'' The 47-year-old captain was given a standing ovation when he went to the stage to pick up his certificate.

A 1974 graduate, Davidson died in San Francisco two years ago from a cerebral aneurysm. She was 47. Her family said she would would have been tickled to learn the school wanted to honor her. ''She was a campus rebel type,'' said her brother Paul Block, who works at the Times Union. ''She was very bright, but she was more into acting, music, folksinging, peace activities.'' Davidson had several hits on Billboard's dance charts and was active in AIDS awareness and park preservation efforts in San Francisco. Her humanitarian work continued even after she died, in the form of her heart, liver, kidneys and skin. ''Last month we met one of the organ recipients,'' Block said. ''He was a good mountain climber when he was younger. And he was down to 120 pounds. They gave him 24 hours to live when he received her liver and kidney. He recovered so well, he's climbing Mt. Shasta this weekend as a fund-raiser and taking some of her personal effects and ashes to the top.''

Shapiro, 47, was unable to make it Friday night, but joked in a telephone interview Thursday that he had always hoped to get into the hall of fame, though he was hoping it would be Cooperstown. ''I realized long ago that wasn't going to happen,'' he said. ''But if I can't get into Cooperstown, this is actually my second choice. To get into the freshman class is a great honor.''

Robert Lopez can be reached at 454-5030 or by e-mail at

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