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Manlius Mayor: Joe LaGuardia put 'stars in my path'

Barbara Mandrell and Mark-Paul Serfain, backstage at the NYS Fair, in 1982.

Barbara Mandrell and Mark-Paul Serfain, backstage at the NYS Fair, in 1982. Rich Kampas

It was with great sadness that I learned of the unexpected passing of Joseph LaGuardia.

In June 1982, I knocked on Joe's door at the NYS Fair with a few sample portraits in my portfolio.

Earlier that year, I had drawn a portrait of Walter Cronkite which incorporated Syracuse landmarks to commemorate his visit to Crouse Hospital that former Congressman George Wortley presented.

I shared with Joe my copy of the Conkrite portrait and asked if he thought a similar presentation might work for any of the talent scheduled to appear at the Grandstand... He was impressed and promised to give it some thought.

A week later, Joe called to say that Barbara Mandrell had agreed to accept a portrait!

I incorporated the NYS Fair logo and several graphic elements that were used to promote the Fair in 1982 into the Mandrell artwork.

Barbara Mandrell not only agreed to a portrait presentation, she invited me to sit in the wings of the stage to watch her show.

It was a fantastic experience!

In Fairs to follow, I would present portraits to Liberace, The Pointer Sisters, Anne Murray, Whitney Houston, Bill Cosby, James Taylor and Natalie Cole...

All because Joe said yes!

God Speed and thanks a million Joseph LaGuardia. You literally put the stars in my path that would guide my art career.

Mark-Paul Serafin, Mayor of Manlius

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