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Seven to enter Hall of Fame

2014 Port Jervis High School Hall of Fame Class


Harry CashdollarHarry Cashdollar

Class of 1953 Posthumous Award
Educators encourage students to “reach for the stars”. The late Harry Cashdollar’s career is proof that such a dream can become reality. His knowledge and leadership were responsible for guidance systems that put U.S. Astronauts on the moon. After graduating PJHS, Cashdollar enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. With his service duty complete, he pursued his college education. Cashdollar earned a BA in physics from Tulane University and master degrees in physics, control theory, and aerospace from UCLA and San Diego State University. Cashdollar distinguished himself as engineer for the top aerospace companies of the day; Douglas and Lockhead. As Senior Engineer for NASA, Cashdollar was the Team Leader that developed the guidance systems for the Saturn V, the largest and most powerful rocket ever built.  Saturn V rockets too Apollo Mission Astronauts to the moon, thanks in part to the efforts and skills of Cashdollar.


Lester Friedman Lester Friedman

 Class of 1963

After graduating from PJHS in 1963, Lester Friedman attended Alfred University, graduating in 1967 with a BA in English. His education continued at Syracuse University, earning his MA in 1969. Friedman received a Ph.D. in English – with specialty in 19th Century British Literature in 1975. Over the course of his academic career he taught at Syracuse University, Upstate Medical University, Northwestern University, the Feinberg School of Medicine, the Chicago Art Institute, and American University. Friedman is currently a professor—and former chair—of the Media and Society Program at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. He’s authored, co-authored, or edited over twenty books, chaired panels, and presented scholarly papers at national and international conferences. He’s been on the editorial board of national journals, authored two screenplays, written numerous articles, and conducted interviews with filmmakers. Among the honors he received have been the Outstanding Scholar Award from Hobart and William Smith and The President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching at Upstate Medical University. He is also a JEOPARDY Champion!


Mark Faller Mark Faller

 Class of 1967

Mark’s professional career began at PJHS and continues today as professor of philosophy at Alaska Pacific University in Anchorage. Mark Faller holds a BA in physics and philosophy from Harvard University and a Ph.D. from the University of Georgia. His education has taken him from here to Alaska and his diverse background has allowed him to explore the world. Faller has been an educator, teacher, and coach for over 40 years. He’s taught math, humanities, and philosophy in high school and college.  He’s been a successful wrestling coach at both levels. In 1977 and 1978 his Port wrestling squads were crowned state champs. It was Faller who coached Ed and Lou Banach during their high school years. The “Banach Twins” would go on to win five NCAA titles and bring home two Olympic Gold Medals in the 1984 summer games. Faller is a proud brother of five and an uncle to eleven. He teaches philosophy because he’s convinced that ideas are the living tools by which we transform the world.

Dennis W. SimmonsDennis W. Simmons

Class of 1969

Orange County Legislator for District 13, Dennis W. Simmons is no stranger to being involved in his community. He’s served the nation, the State of NY, Orange County, and the Port Jervis area with distinction. A 24 year veteran of the NY Air National Guard, Simmons was deployed in 2003-2004 to the Middle East in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. During his 32 year tenure at the New York State Dept. of Corrections, he was Acting Deputy Superintendent of Reception Classification as well as Senior Correction Counselor. He is a past Councilman for the City of Port Jervis and sits on various regional boards. Simmons has been long associated with the Port Jervis Fire Department and many fraternal organizations. He is a life member of the VFW, the Air Force Sergeants Association, and many other Veterans Organizations. Simmons’ fondest memories are of the years spent coaching football and wrestling here in Port Jervis.


Patty GessnerPatricia (Owens) Gessner

Class of 1971

With degrees from SUNY Fredonia and Western Connecticut State University, “Patty” Gessner could have taken her show on the road. Instead, she returned to Port Jervis to raise her family and give back to her hometown. Patty has been a member of the Broome Street Traveling All Star Band since 1988. That same year she and her husband opened Al’s Music Shop. There she offers lessons to children of all ages. She’s taught Sunday school, volunteered for a local food pantry, and has run a pre-school musical play group. Her true blessing in life is her job at the Salvation Army Thrift Store. Patty Gessner has dedicated her life to helping others.

Cathy (Pinkala) MitranoCathy (Pinkala) Mitrano

Class of 1983

After graduating Port Jervis in 1983, Cathy (Pinkala) Mitrano was one of six students accepted into the elite Combined Six Year Law Program at Boston University. Such a distinction would become common practice in her career. Ms. Mitrano is currently the Deputy Assistant Secretary at the Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Resolution Management. She’s a founding member of the Department of Homeland Security. Mitrano served as counsel for the Federal Aviation Administration, the United States Postal Service, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the U.S. Army. From 2008 – 2013 she was Deputy Assistant Secretary to the Army, becoming the first female to hold this position. At the same time she was Director of the Army Review Boards Agency, the protocol equivalent to an army Major General (2 star). Cathy has been married to Nicholas Mitrano since 1991.

Lt. Col. H. Robert Prager, MDLt. Col. H. Robert Prager, MD

Class of 1984  Posthumous Award

The late H. Robert Prager, M.D. graduated from Cornell University. In 1994, he graduated first in his class at the Chicago Medical School as a member of Alpha Omega Alpha, the Medical Honor Society. Robert completed his residency at the Mayo Clinic in Internal Medicine and OB-GYN. He enlisted in the United States Air Force as a Board Certified OB-GYN and began his active duty at Luke AFB in Arizona. Robert then became a Flight Surgeon and served as Medical Director for the 56th Aerospace Medical Squadron at Luke. Fluent in Spanish, he served on humanitarian missions in Central America and as a Medical Investigator on the AF Incident Board. At the beginning of Iraqi Enduring Freedom, he served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He continued to serve our country at Ramstein AFB and Landstuhl Hospital in Germany for three years as the Theater Validating Flight Surgeon. At the time of his death in 2009, he was an active duty Flight Surgeon at Nelles AFB in Nevada. He personified Service above Self.