UB to Commemorate 208th Birthday of Millard Fillmore

By Arthur Page

Release Date: January 2, 2008

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The 208th anniversary of the birth of Millard Fillmore, the University at Buffalo's first chancellor and 13th president of the United States, will be observed in ceremonies to be held at 10 a.m. Jan. 7 in Forest Lawn Cemetery at Fillmore's gravesite.

The annual observance honors Fillmore, who played a major role in the founding of numerous cultural, civic and community organizations in Erie County. Hosted by UB, the Forest Lawn Group and the Buffalo Club, the annual event will be free and open to the public.

Marsha S. Henderson, UB vice president for external affairs, will deliver the memorial address.

Born on Jan. 7, 1800, Fillmore was instrumental in founding the Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society, the Buffalo Club and the Buffalo General Hospital. His activities also led to the creation of the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library, the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy and the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences.

Some historians credit the former teacher, postmaster, lawyer and member of Congress with establishing the White House Library.

Col. Jim S. McCready, operations group commander of the 107th Refueling Wing of the New York Air National Guard based at Niagara Falls International Airport, will place a wreath from President George W. Bush at the gravesite.

Officials from the Buffalo Club, the Forest Lawn Group and UB will also be on hand to present wreaths.

The Rev. Joel Miller of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Buffalo will provide an invocation. The UB Police Color Guard will present the flags. To close the ceremony, UB student Stephen Biggie will play taps.

A reception will follow immediately in the Forest Lawn Chapel.

While this year's commemoration marks the 43rd consecutive year UB has programmed the ceremony, the tradition to recognize the life of Millard Fillmore dates back to 1937.

From 1937 until 1965, the anniversary ceremonies were a cooperative staging by the City of Buffalo and the Buffalo Board of Education.

The events were administered by Irving R. Templeton, a 1909 graduate of UB, who scheduled two programs annually on or near Jan. 7, one in City Hall and one in Forest Lawn. Templeton was a partner in the law offices of Templeton, Turnabull & Templeton.

Following his death in 1965, responsibility for the event shifted to UB through an agreement between Chancellor Clifford C. Furnas and Alfred E. Kirchhofer, editor of The Buffalo Evening News. While UB participated in programming prior to Templeton's death, the 1966 event marked the start of UB's role as official steward of the annual community event.

The vice president for university relations and the Office of Public Affairs programmed the event from 1966-87, when the Office of Special Events began managing the program.

Visit http://www.ubevents.org/event/fillmore to review this year's program and to register to attend.