I never knew William G. Allyn.
Sure, I played hockey with some of his grandkids. And during my restaurant days, I probably waited on his table once or twice when he and his wife climbed Borodino Hill for dinner at the old Millard's at the Summit.
But I've never worked for Welch-Allyn and thus never got to know him, which I regret. By all accounts he was a great and generous man.
He certainly left a strong legacy as a philanthropist, giving gifts large and small to all sorts of causes. And, although his name is on both of Skaneateles' ice rinks, he reportedly preferred anonymous altruism.
This is the mark of a true philanthropist -- someone who gives for the sake of giving, not to seek the spotlight. Mr. Allyn didn't draw attention to himself in sharing his good fortune with others. He just did it, without fanfare. Like bequeathing a multi-million-dollar estate to his family's Allyn Foundation, which offers charitable assistance to the people of Onondaga and Cayuga counties.
Even I was once a recipient of Mr. Allyn's largesse. Back in 1978, he bought a set of beautifully personalized "varsity jackets" for the members of our state champion hockey team. He certainly didn't have to buy us anything -- we already had big trophies and, more importantly, bragging rights. Although trash-talking wasn't en vogue back then, we could have done so had we wanted to.
But Mr. Allyn knew it would put big smiles on the faces of a couple dozen kids to be able to wear jackets that say "State Champs." He was right -- we wore them quite proudly. I still have mine somewhere -- I wonder if it still fits? (C'mon Tom -- who are you trying to kid?)
From what I've read, Mr. Allyn probably wouldn't have appreciated the publicity -- perhaps not so much for things like hockey jackets, but certainly not for his larger gifts. But he has set an example in magnanimity that we all can learn from.