Hard work always was part of Hector Mareri’s DNA.
His mother Emma, an Italian immigrant, began working at a local factory when her husband passed away unexpectedly. Hector was two years old.
At the age of 12, Hector began working after school, picking up odd jobs to help his mother. After he graduated from Falconer High School, Hector took a full-time job at Marlin Rockwell Corporation before enlisting in the U.S. Navy for two years.
When he returned home, he was introduced to Anne O’Kelly, who had just moved to Jamestown from Ireland. And the rest was history.
The two married in 1958 and that year, Hector opened his first business, a small used car lot on Fluvanna Avenue.
In 1963, Hector expanded his business when he and his business partner opened a Honda motorcycle franchise. As Hector worked on growing his business, Anne attended night school and began working at Marine Midland Bank. Together, they raised four children in the Village of Falconer.
“Our lives have been really blessed,” Anne said.
When Hector passed away in 2019, Anne and his children looked for a way to honor Hector’s generous spirit and support the community that was always home to him.
Together with the help of the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation, they created The Hector J. and Anne Mareri Vocational Scholarship. Starting this year, it will be awarded annually to graduating Falconer High School seniors majoring in a vocational field.
“Hector was a great salesman,” Anne said. “But he always said, ‘Having good technicians contributed to the success of his business.”
According to Michelle Frederickson, Community Foundation scholarship officer, there is an increased interest among local students to pursue higher education in automotive mechanics, welding, construction trades, and heavy equipment management.
“There is a growing need to fill positions in vocational fields with trained and skilled young people,” Frederickson said. “We are grateful to work with individuals, such as the Mareri family, who are eager to support these students in their efforts.”
And for the Mareri family, this is just another way to keep Hector’s memory, and his legacy, alive.
In addition to this scholarship, graduating high school seniors, undergraduate and graduate students can apply for the Community Foundation’s general scholarship process by visiting crcfonline.org/scholarships beginning April 15. One common application will match students to more than 300 scholarship awards, totaling $1.2 million. For more information, call 661-3394.