What draws you so strongly to the JCC?
“I’m from Beachwood, Ohio, and never envisioned leaving. When I met Harold at Ohio State, he swept me off my feet. We got married six weeks after I graduated from OSU. As a newbie to the Rochester community, I constantly overheard people greeting each other, exclaiming, ‘OMG…I haven’t seen you since Camp Seneca Lake!’ Feeling left out, I started doing it too and had fun as people tried to figure out if and how they knew me. It’s how I tried to ‘fit in.’ I finally got to go to Camp Seneca Lake for “Family Camp” when my children were toddlers. I felt then that my roots were finally, firmly established. The Bobry Family’s commitment to and involvement with Camp Seneca Lake, spans generations. Our Dad, Stuart Bobry, helped build the camp’s original wooden steps from Cayuga down to the waterfront. My husband and many of our friends are CSL alumni. The loyalty and strength of the relationships built at camp are legendary. Our daughters Emily and Melanie both attended CSL with the happiest of memories. Our grandchildren Isaac and Evelyn are the littlest loves of my life and take a majority of my time, by choice. It’s wonderful to think that they too, will carry on the family tradition and eventually become CSL campers! They are currently ages 2 and 4, so we’ve got a little time and lots of love between now and then. The JCC is my philanthropic focal point, precisely because it is a model of diversity and inclusion, for all ages and all stages of life. All are welcome. It is the one place in our city that is truly a central community center.”
What role does art play in your life?
“I was a stained-glass artist for over 20 years. Stained glass is extremely labor intensive, so my favorite part was working with my clients to create windows, mirrors, even signs for local restaurants. I was the interpreter for their needs, dreams and desires. My designs have featured everything from birds to flowers to designs from Aztec Indian rugs, but my design preference is with Art Nouveau: romanticized, organic, curvaceous and sensual forms. Currently, I am a substitute teacher in the Pittsford School District, primarily for Art, and have been teaching for nearly 25 years. It’s highly rewarding to nourish and encourage students to think creatively and help them to ‘think outside of the box.’ I’ve been teaching for so long, that some of my former students have become my friends, once they graduated from high school and college. I relish the fact that they choose to continue a relationship that started with me as their ‘Art Sub.’ Teaching has always been and will always be an important part of my life.”
What inspires you to give generously?
“I owe my strong sense of philanthropy to the greatest role models I could possibly have: the parents I acquired by marriage, Betsy and Stuart Bobry. They have been wonderful parents and role models—teaching not only their children, but also their grandchildren, the value and importance of doing for others.”
- Melissa Pheterson