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Outstanding Alumni Awards

Edwin D. FessendenEdwin D. Fessenden ' 54 - When Edwin "Ed" Fessenden decided to join his father in operating the family's farm in King Ferry, New York, he represented the fourth generation to enter the family business. At that time, Fessenden Farms had 20 milking cows and a small number of pigs, sheep, and chickens. Ed leveraged his Cornell education and the success of three generations before him to grow the farm into a progressive, sustainable 120-milker dairy and 700-acre crop farm. The farm remains in the family and has seen steady growth to its present size of 600 milking cows and crops on 1200 acres.

While Ed was expanding and modernizing his own business, he served with various organizations including the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency, New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets Agriculture Advisory Council, and the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Cayuga County. He became a strong proponent of the cooperative marketing movement through his service with the Owasco Valley Milk Producers and AGCO Cooperative. He also served for more than 20 years as a director of Midstate Mutual Insurance Company and to this day he serves as a director of Cayuga Lake National Bank.

Despite the traditional demands associated with dairy farming, Ed has shared his time, wisdom, and expertise in support of education, agriculture, and his community. For decades he has hosted scores of Cornell students at Fessenden Farms for field research, a practice that continues to this day on the Fessenden family farm. Ed has also shared his leadership skills with Cornell as a member of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) Regional Committee, CALS Dean's Advisory Council, CALS Campaign Committee, and the W.I. Myers Agricultural Finance and Management Program Advisory Council. His public service also includes the New York State Council on Vocational Education (two years as chairman), New York State Job Training Partnership Council, and the Southern Cayuga Central School Board of Education. Since retiring from farming, Ed has volunteered as caretaker for two local cemeteries, written historical articles for the local newspaper, enjoyed golf, traveled in the U. S. and overseas, and attended numerous family events and class reunions, most recently participating in his 55th Cornell Reunion in the summer of 2009.

A week after Ed graduated from Cornell he married Anne Gormley, the sister of one of his Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity brothers. Fifty-six years later, Ed and Anne still live in the same home where they raised their seven children: Elizabeth, Martha '79, Timothy, Mary, Mark, John '85 and Daniel '87. They have 12 grandchildren, including four Cornellians.


Outstanding Alumni Awards