Founder and First President
Olive B. O’Connor was the daughter of Gamaliel and Martha Haner Huggans. She was born in 1879 at Lexington, Greene County, New York. Shortly thereafter her family moved to Prattsville, New York. She was educated in private and public schools at Prattsville and was a graduate of Stamford Seminary, Stamford, New York. She was keenly interested in young people and their education having been a teacher in several schools including the Hobart School and for three years the principal of the Prattsville Union Free School.
In 1910 Olive B. Huggans was united in marriage with A. Lindsay O’Connor, a young attorney from Hobart, where they made their residence.
Church and civic activities received ardent and faithful support from Mrs. O’Connor throughout her entire life. She was the first women member of the Hobart High School Board of Education. From 1911 she was a member of the Women’s Civic Club of Hobart and embarked on a very active career of women’s club work culminating in her Presidency of the New York State Federation of Women’s Clubs in 1942-44. She was a member of the Board of Directors of the Delaware County Health and Tuberculosis Association and its first woman president in 1939.
Mrs. O’Connor was a member of the Dutch Reformed Church at Prattsville. After her marriage, she became a member of the United Methodist Church at Hobart. She served in many capacities in both the local church and district. She was the most active in the founding of the Women’s Society for Christian Service and was also active in the United Church Women. All temperance causes were faithfully supported by Mrs. O’Connor. Other groups to which she belonged including the Abigail Harper Daughters of the American Revolution, the Dutch Settlers Society of Albany and the Huguenot Society of New Paltz.
Mrs. O’Connor was, until her death on June 5, 1972, the President of the O’Connor Foundation.
A. Lindsay and Charles O’Connor
A. Lindsay O’Connor was the son of Edward and Annie Taylor O’Connor. He was born in Davenport, Delaware County, New York in 1881. He grew up there, attending public school and later Mount Hermon School at Mount Hermon, Massachusetts. Well-known as an athlete and scholar, in 1903 he was graduated Phi Beta Kappa Cum Laude from New York University, where he starred as pitcher on the varsity baseball team. He attended Albany Law School, was graduated and admitted to the bar in 1905. He then, in 1906, joined his father and brother, the Honorable Charles R. O’Connor, in the law firm of O’Connor and O’Connor in Hobart, New York.
Charles Roberts O’Connor had practiced law with his father since 1899 after attending Albany Law School. By 1911 Charles was admitted to practice in the Southern and Northern District Courts of New York and was widely known for his grim determination to win cases and knowledge of the law. He also represented the New York State Attorney General in Delaware County and served as Chief Counsel to the State Excise Tax Department before being appointed in 1919 as the first Federal Prohibition Director of New York State. After the retirement of their father, the brothers continued to practice together until 1930. After 1930 Charles continued to practice law until 1940, passing away on August 5, 1946.
In 1919 A. Lindsay O’Connor was elected District Attorney for the County of Delaware. He was re-elected in 1922 by the largest majority ever given any candidate for that office. The firm of O’Connor and O’Connor continued until 1930 when A. Lindsay O’Connor was elected County Judge and Surrogate for Delaware County. He held this post until 1943 when he was appointed by Governor Thomas E. Dewey to fill out the term of the late Supreme Court Justice Andrew J. McNaught. When this term ran out, he was nominated by both the Republican and Democratic parties to run for the office of Supreme Court Justice. He was elected to the Supreme Court from the Sixth Judicial District, which position he held until retirement in 1951.
Judge O’Connor held many (elected) posts during his service to the community and his profession. As previously stated he served as Delaware County District Attorney for eleven years, prior to his election to the Bench. Other posts included- President of the Village of Hobart, President of the Delaware County Bar Association, President and Treasurer of the Federation of Bar Associations of the Sixth District, Member of the State Bar Nominating Committee, Director of two area banks and member of the Board of Directors of the International Business Machines Corporation from 1945 to 1951. He was also a member of the Board of Trustees of Syracuse University for five years. He was a lifetime member of the United Methodist Church and a District Deputy of the Masonic Lodge and a member and District Deputy of the I.O.O.F. Lodge 63 Hobart.
Judge O’Connor passed away in May of 1968.
History of O’Connor Philanthropy
For many years both Judge and Mrs. O’Connor gave generous support to countless deserving young people, community projects and many institutions. Included among these are the O’Connor Residence Hall at Harpur College (now one of the colleges of the State University of New York at Binghamton); the O’Connor Health Center at Mount Hermon School, Mount Hermon, Massachusetts; the O’Connor Campus Center at Colgate University, Hamilton, New York; the A. Lindsay O’Connor Professorship of American Institutions and the Olive B. O’Connor Professorship of Literature both at Colgate University; the Hobart Community Center and Fire House at Hobart, New York; O’Connor Hospital in Delhi, New York; O’Connor Hall (named in honor of the late Honorable Charles R. O’Connor) at the Agricultural and Technical College of the State University of New York at Delhi, New York and scholarship funds with first preference to students of Delaware County at Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York; the State University of New York at Binghamton, New York and the Agricultural and Technical College at the State University of New York at Delhi, New York. Numerous area men and women (lawyers, doctors, nurses, dental technicians and business executives) were able to receive their college and/or professional education through the generosity of either Judge or Mrs. O’Connor.
Over the last 50+ years the scope of programs funded by the O’Connor Foundation has evolved and expanded. Scholarships remain a high priority with $437,000 each year committed to institutions of higher learning including:
- Albany Law School
- Broome Community College
- Cazenovia College
- Colgate University
- Cornell University
- Empire State College
- Hartwick College
- Ithaca College
- Paul Smith’s College
- State University of New York at Binghamton
- State University of New York at Cobleskill
- State University of New York at Delhi
- State University College of New York at Oneonta
- State University of New York at Plattsburgh
- Sullivan County Community College
- Rensselaer Polytechnic University
- Sage Colleges
- Syracuse University
- Wells College
Other grants have benefited health care, substance abuse, violence prevention, day care, primary and secondary schools, reading and writing programs, early childhood programs, school based scholarships, environmental groups, planning, economic development, community and Main Street revitalization, towns, counties, local share of state and local grants, churches, youth ministries, law enforcement, fire departments, public libraries, forestry, American Chestnut, agricultural preservation and development, performing and visual arts, local historic sites, preservation and museums, hiking trails, sports camps, music festivals and native American culture and history.
The list grows as the fourth generation of O’Connor philanthropy perpetuates Mrs. O’Connor’s vision.
The First Years
On November 21, 1965 Mrs. A. Lindsay (Olive B. Huggans) O’Connor formed an organization, the A. Lindsay and Olive B. O’Connor Foundation to be operated exclusively for religious, charitable, literary or educational purposes, including the prevention of cruelty to children and animals. It was her wish, but not her direction, that first consideration be given to religious, charitable, scientific, literary and educational organizations in which she and her husband, A. Lindsay O’Connor, were interested. After that it was Mrs. O’Connor’s wish, but again not her direction, that the Board give consideration to other qualified recipients. The Foundation is specifically charged not to benefit any private individual, carry on propaganda or influence legislation, be involved in any political campaigns on behalf of any candidate for public office or to engage in any activity which would cause it to lose its tax exemption under the Internal Revenue Code of 1954, Sec. 501(c)(3).
The Foundation Today
The present worth of the O’Connor Foundation is about $65,000,000. Annual giving is approximately $3,000,000. The actual amount which must be paid out in grants is regulated by the percentage of each year’s average monthly asset value in accordance with US Treasury Regulation.
The principal area of program interest is the quality of life in rural Delaware County and contiguously surrounding rural counties in New York State. Rarely selective exceptions to these geographic restrictions are considered by the Board of Directors on an individual basis.
The Foundation is governed by a Board of Directors which meets twice a year, spring and fall, to consider and act upon qualified grant requests. Actions of the Foundation are based on a majority vote of the Board. Learn more about the Board and staff of the foundation.