Consul John Zavrel with the inventor Dr. Wilson Greatbatch and the painter Mary McAndrew at the Museum of European Art in Clarence.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Dr. Greatbatch, dear Mrs. Greatbatch,
Honorable representatives of the Consular Corps,
Dear artists and friends of the Museum !
I have the honor to welcome you to this event. As our co-director Mary McAndrew announced, I would like to introduce you to this initiative, which combines art and science in a very unique way.
The theme is "Homage to an Inventor". And we personify this idea in one inventor, who is a great son of Clarence and an international personality: Dr. Wilson Greatbach. As the inventor of the implantable pacemaker, he made one of the most important contributions for the benefit of mankind.
It is well known, Dr. Greatbatch, that you are not so much fond of being honored in public. But let me force this on you today, and let me say a few words about this Homage to you.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Wilson Greatbatch is not only one of the leading inventors of our time, but also an ideal for social and cultural engagement in our area. As a supporter of culture -- we thank him; as an inventor -- we admire him; and as a human being of vision, humanity and friendship -- we love him.
I feel free to confess this in public, since I have the honor of knowing Dr. Greatbatch since he came to the former Czechoslovakia to attend an international trade fair back in 1965. And over so many years the ties of friendship, respect and trust became stronger and stronger.
In addition to this testimony about Wilson Greatbatch, we have just started something very special: we have founded a new art collection titled "Wilson and Eleanor Greatbatch Collection". This unique collection in the Museum of European Art guarantees to remind people in the decades to come about inventors in general, about Wilson Greatbatch in particular, as well as about the artists and all those who support this project now and in the future.
Artists of our time have already contributed their new works to this Collection. I would like to mention these European artists: Kurt Arentz (Germany), the sculptor Renate Stendar-Feuerbaum (Switzerland), Hugo Haig-Thomas (Great Britain), and others.
The bronze portrait "WILSON GREATBATCH" by Peter Hohberger, which our Museum commissioned years ago, is included in this collection.
Today I am proud to announce that the European Art Foundation in Berlin has promised to contribute to this collection honoring Wilson Greatbatch graphic works of Marc Chagall, Helga Tiemann, the artist friends Salvador Dali, Arno Breker and the Jewish painter Ernst Fuchs, as well as works of the late Jean Cocteau, Aristide Aristide Maillol, Charles Despiau, Jean Carzou and Jean Miro.
With our initiative "Homage to an Inventor" we continue a good European tradition. Many great artists like Picasso, Dali, Breker, Fuchs, Cocteau, George Brauqe, Miro, Alexander Calder and others created works for special occasions to honor colleagues, publishers, writers and poets.
The Museum of European Art and the European Art Foundation are leading this good tradition into a new dimension. Artists honor inventors!
Artists of our time and in the future can contribute to this collection. The portfolio of the museum's collection of drawings, paintings, graphic works, sculptures, and objects of art contains also letters of congratulations, literary text, and other documents.
But the first step on this new way to honor inventors now and in the decades to come has been taken. It was done here and now. And I make it very clear, that this first step is focused on you, Dr. Wilson Greatbatch. You should know that we appreciate very much what you have done and what are doing together with your beloved wife, Eleanor Greatbatch: being an ideal in our society.
A year from now, we will have an exhibition titled "HOMAGE TO AN INVENTOR" of the works of art contributed to our new art collection in the next 12 months. I hope that all of you can join us on that special occasion.
In honoring Wilson Greatbatch, we like to honor all inventors who have brought mankind ahead in a peaceful way, and with human dignity.
I am proud to say this in the presence of the Honorary Consuls of the region. And in a few moments, our good friend, the Austrian Consul Fred Friedman, will introduce to us the members of the Consular Corps.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Now we have the occasion to unveil a new portrait of Wilson Greatbatch.
The painter Mary McAndrew has recently completed this oil painting.
Dear Mary McAndrew,
Allow me to thank you for this great realistic painting. Thank you for lending us your painting to be shown during the next few weeks in our Museum.
Mary McAndrew after the unveiling of her portrait "Wilson Greatbatch".
I too have been invited to contribute to this great collection.
It is because of my great respect and love for Dr. Greatbatch that I created this portrait, even before we started this tribute. Now I would like to donate it to the collection honoring Dr. Greatbatch!
I find it a tremendous honor to have my work in a collection with so many great artists.
I hope I will set an example for other artists who are invited to contribute to this collection now and in the future.
The inventor Dr. Wilson Greatbatch with Mary McAndrew in front of his portrait.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Now I like to ask Consul Fred Friedman to introduce to us the Honorary Consuls. This event tonight is also a good opportunity for us all to meet the consuls for good conversation and to sample some fine wines from the countries they represent.
Consul Fred Friedman, you have the word.
After the introduction of the eight consuls and an address by the Hon. Roger Marsham, the Consul General of Canada, Mary McAndrew read the following messages of congratulation from New York Governor George Pataki, Senator Charles Schumer, and the Himalayan saint-sage Swami Veda:
Dear Dr. Greatbatch:
On behalf of the citizens of the Empire State, it is a pleasure to offer sincere congratulations as you celebrate your 83rd birthday.
This occasion provides friends and loved ones with the opportunity to convey their affection and admiration for you. In celebrating this special event, you can take pride in all you have achieved during your lifetime. Throughout the years, you have had many extraordinary experiences which contribute to a treasury of fond memories and serve as testimony to the virtues of good living. In that regard, you serve as a geat source of inspiration to many people who truly cherish you, and your gift for bringing joy and happiness to others is well-appreciated.
I applaud all you have realized in your 83 years, each of them marked by an appreciation for life that is displayed by your longevity. With my best wishes for a wonderful birthday, and continued good health and happiness,
Very truly yours,
Governor of New York
Please accept by warmest congratulations as you celebrated your 83rd Birthday. Living such a long, full life is a wonderful accomplishment.
Throughout your life, you have experienced many personal triumphs and borne witness to some of our nation's greatest moments. This is a rare gift that is surely to be cherished. It has endowed you with incomparable knowledge, experience, and countless warm memories that I know you will continue to share. I hope that you take some time with your family and friends to reflect on your many years of devoted service as one of our country's finest inventors.
Again, Happy 83rd Birthday and best wishes for health and happiness in the future.
The moon rises unbeckoned and sheds petals of
cool jasmines, so many as to cover the earth.
The world looks up and all beings' eye-lids turn into
night-dew-washed fresh blossoms.
So it is with the great ones who rise unbeckoned to serve,
seeking no recognition,
and the world, therefore, edifies it's own heart
by offering them felicitations and celebrations.
Such has been your own rise,
such is your felicitation, that the adoring
world's hearts are gratified by your very presence.
May the sage of the Universe, who inspires us all,
continue forever to dwell in your crystal mind.
Swami Veda Bharati
After the speeches, Consul John Zavrel and Mary McAndrew congratulate Dr. Greatbatch as he prepares to cut his birthday cake for more than 200 invited guests gathered at the Museum of European Art in Clarence for this special occasion.
Nr. 84, Autumn 2002