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Bob Rockwell Memorial Fundraiser helps those facing financial hardship

CORNING, N.Y. (18 NEWS) - The ninth annual Bob Rockwell Memorial fundraiser is set for next month, but who was the man behind the Rockwell Museum?

He was a local philanthropist, art collector, and store owner. Rockwell was known for being a man of the people, and as contradicting as this sounds, known for his anonymous donations.

Born in Bradford, Pennsylvania, he grew up in Colorado where his love of western art developed.

He moved to Corning in 1933, served in the U.S. Navy during World War II then returned to Corning where he and his wife Hertha Rockwell owned a department store downtown called the Rockwell Co. on Market Street. This is where he unveiled his western art and collections. The collection eventually became a gift to the community where the Rockwell Museum stands today.

He was a community-minded man and provided assistance to families in need.

"He actually had a pension that came late in his life from the government from his time in the Navy," Sarah Rockwell-Smith, his granddaughter, said. "He was so well-situated at that point in life, he didn't need it."

He would help people with vet bills or utility shut-off notices. Later in life, he created the "Stonewater" fund, a play on his last name, to help community members facing financial hardship. 

After his death in 2009, the Bob Rockwell Memorial Fund was created to continue his compassion.

Its annual fundraiser, which brings out over one 100 people, takes place next month at the Corning Country Club with silent and live auctions.

Since 2009, it has distributed over $80,000 and provides support to individuals ranging from $300 to $600.

"We're not just another charity that sends money elsewhere," Rockwell-Smith said. "All of this stuff stays local right within the Twin Tiers and that's the big thing that we want people to know."

The fundraiser is on Friday, November 3. For ticket information, call Teresa Smith at 607-368-3421. The attire asks for guests to dress up. Western styles are encouraged. 

The Bob Rockwell Memorial Fund is an independent fund not affiliated with the Rockwell Museum.


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