The largest wind turbine on the eastern seaboard was recently dedicated to a former Fredonia resident.
Bruce Stokes - who was born in Dunkirk, raised in Fredonia, graduated from SUNY Fredonia in 1977, received an Masters of Business Administration in Industrial Relations from West Virginia University and last worked as vice president for human resources at Varian Semiconductor Equipment in Gloucester, Mass. - was honored posthumously with the dedication of Varian's $8 million wind turbine. The turbine stretches 492 feet from base to the top of the rotor and will generate about a third (9 Million kWh hours) of the electricity the company uses.
Nancy Langevin, who worked in human resources with Stokes wrote, "He left an indelible mark on the company and those he helped with his kindness, laughter and endless wisdom."
This memorial in Bruce Stokes' honor sits at the base of a wind turbine measuring 492 feet in height. Stokes grew up in Fredonia, and two of his children and their families reside in Fredonia.
She explained that employees of the company decided they wanted to do something in his honor. In addition to the turbine itself, a granite boulder done by O'Rourke Brothers Memorials was placed at its base. A likeness of Stokes was etched into the stone. The words offering tribute read: "When the Winds of Change Blow, Some People Build Walls and Others Build Windmills."
Speaking of the likeness of Stokes, Langevin wrote, "What an amazing job they did! It captures the twinkle in Bruce's eyes."
Company employees as well as members of Stokes' family gathered for the dedication.
Sandra Stokes, Bruce's widow, who turned on the turbine during the dedication, admitted she is not fond of heights.
"Bruce loved this project," she said, "so in spite of being afraid of heights, I did it. It was such an honor."
Sandra was delighted that their four children, spouses, and all seven grandchildren traveled to Gloucester for the dedication. Patrick and Tracy Stokes, as well as Amanda (Stokes) Thompson, her husband Bruce, and their daughters Emma, Sophie, and Tess are residents of Fredonia. Lindsey, Sung, Jordan and Jonathan Baek, are from Hillsborough, N.J. while Brian, Robin, Noah and Cameron Shaw live in Watertown, Mass. Sandra lives in Seabrook, N.H.
Speaking of her husband, Sandra said, "Bruce was unique in the corporate world. He was a steadying force for the executive team."
Speaking about the turbine, she added, "It's a wonderful thing. I can look across the ocean and see it. I know that Bruce is still a steadying influence in our lives."
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