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George and Marcia Pancio Scholarship Fund established at CRCF

Tue, Feb 7th 2023 11:00 am

George Pancio is maybe most remembered for his famous portrayals of Santa Claus both locally and nationally, but outside of the red suit, he dedicated himself wholly to Olean schools and the community.

Pancio, born and raised in Olean and a 1952 graduate of Olean High School, served as principal in several Olean schools and served many years as assistant superintendent. He was inducted into the Olean High School Wall of Fame in 2005.

His dedication to the district ran so deep that he even demonstrated it through his car’s license plate, which for decades read “OHS ONE.”

To honor and continue Pancio’s impact on the school district, the Pancio family recently established the George and Marcia Pancio Scholarship at the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation.

The scholarship will be for a graduating senior of Olean High School planning to study in the education or medical field. The student will also need to complete an essay question about patriotism as part of their application.

The first scholarship award will be made in 2024.

The scholarship is also a way to honor Pancio’s contributions to the community through service. Pancio served on a number of community and national boards including the Boy Scouts of America, YMCA, United Way, American Red Cross, Hospital Hall of Roses, Miss America Pageant, Soap Box Derby and the Jaycees.

Perhaps, most importantly though, Pancio was a family man.

Pancio and his wife, Marcia Ives Pancio, had six children, 14 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

Marcia, for whom the scholarship is also named, shared many of the same passions as her husband, her family, her community, her country – and even her love of Christmas.

Marcia served on the Olean school board following her husband’s retirement from the district and shared many nights with him as Mr. and Mrs. Claus on the roof of their Main Street home for the cherished Olean event, Santa on the Roof.

One of the more memorable pieces to Pancio’s legacy is of course his many years as Santa Claus.

Pancio portrayed Santa Claus locally in the Santa Claus Lane period and numerous events and famously acted as Macy’s official spokes-Santa for 11 years, even portraying Santa in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

He appeared as Santa on television programs “Good Morning America,” the “Tonight Show with Johnny Carson” and more.

He was also the final Santa to visit Virginia O’Hanlon Douglas, author of the famous, “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus,” editorial.

“It is truly an honor to play a role in preserving the storied legacy of George Pancio,” said CRCF Executive Director Karen Niemic Buchheit. “This scholarship will be there for Olean School students years to come, just as George always was as principal and assistant superintendent —and of course as Santa, too.”

Tax-deductible donations can be made to the George and Marcia Pancio Scholarship Fund at the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation, 301 North Union St., Suite 203, Olean, NY 14760 or online at cattfoundation.org.

The Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation is the area’s supportive, responsive, and trusted community foundation. Established in 1994, CRCF is growing good by connecting donors to the causes they care about most in the region. Grants from the foundation support many areas, including education, scholarships, health care, the arts, community development, human service, and youth development. To learn more, call (716) 301-CRCF (2723), email [email protected], or visit online at www.cattfoundation.org. CRCF is also on Facebook (facebook.com/cattfoundation) and Twitter (@CattFoundation).