Syracuse University Magazine

Mary Gilmore Smith ā€™29, Gā€™38

Mary Gilmore SmithMary Gilmore Smith, a longtime advocate and counselor for women in higher education who maintained strong ties to SU for nearly 90 years, died in Syracuse on January 18. She was 106 years old. Devoted to lifelong learning, Smith earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from SU, and was named the University’s first vocational counselor of women in 1938. She later served the University in several roles, including student dean counselor and academic counselor in the Women’s Center at University College, where she co-founded the Eta Pi Upsilon Scholarship Program for women studying part time at SU. Thanks to her unwavering support of the program’s endowed fund, Smith had the longest giving history of any annual donor at SU, which honored her in 2007 for her philanthropic efforts. After retiring from SU in 1972, she served as a community activist and volunteer, including work as a literacy tutor. Among numerous honors, Smith was the recipient of a Chancellor’s Citation and the Melvin Eggers Senior Alumni Award. In 2004, she was inducted into the archives of the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, New York. Predeceased by her husband, Edward Smith, an SU business law professor, and her son, Sheridan, she is survived by her daughter, Elizabeth Smith Hakanson ’67, G’71 of Syracuse, two granddaughters, and generations of nieces and nephews. 


Luke LaPorta ā€™48, Gā€™50

Luke LaPortsLuke LaPorta, of Liverpool, New York, an educator and former chairman of the Little League International Board of Directors, died on November 19, 2013, at age 89. Born in Jamaica, New York, LaPorta was a U.S. Navy veteran of World War II and earned a bachelor’s degree from the College of Arts and Sciences, a master’s degree from the School of Education, and a doctoral degree from the University of Sarasota. A letter winner of the SU football team, LaPorta devoted much of his life to working with youth in sports. He is credited with introducing Little League baseball to Central New York and was a member of Little League International’s board from 1973 until his death, which included serving as board chairman from 1984 until 1997. LaPorta worked as a teacher, coach, and administrator for the Liverpool Central School District for 31 years, retiring in 1979 as athletic director. He then joined the development office at Syracuse University, where he worked as a senior director for 21 years. Honored as a National Athletic Director of the Year, LaPorta was a founder of the Empire State Games. He is survived by his wife, Marie Lubrano LaPorta ’50; three children, James LaPorta, Nancy Rogers, and Lisa Pesce ’87, G’91, and their families; a sister, Lorraine Brenner; and many nieces, nephews, and cousins.