Deeply disappointed that the Great Depression robbed him of the freedom to attend college, Frank Gelsomino spent his entire life investing his earnings and watching the market with ferocious intensity. His life of frugality wedded to his expert dealings with investments resulted in bequests of more than $1.6 million to St. Bonaventure University and $700,000 to Olean General Hospital. His gift to us was meant to ensure that no young person would suffer the lifelong regret that had been his bitter bread. His gift to the hospital was meant to protect the health of countless neighbors. I remembered all of this standing on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
There, in the middle of the strobing numerals, the flying fractions of the day’s earnings, the confetti of torn papers littering the floor, the drone of heated voices from all directions, I realized that Uncle Frank might be memorialized here as well as any chapel or church.
Here was the citadel of the economy that gave him the precious chance to become better off, to create wealth for a small-town laborer, to become a philanthropist in denim overalls. How many others were there like him flashing around that board, seeking a chance for success for themselves, but just as often, a chance to endow something beyond themselves and the horizons of their singular fates.
Sister Margaret Carney, O.S.F.
President, St. Bonaventure University
Reflections on the Closing Bell Ceremony of the New York Stock Exchange
November 25, 2008