Long before the New York Jets came to the SUNY Cortland campus, the New York Giants enjoyed a strong presence with the College’s Alumni Association through the efforts of their goodwill ambassador Ed Olivari ’49.
A physical education major at SUNY Cortland, Olivari taught in the White Plains Public Schools for 32 years until his retirement in 1982. During the last 14 years of that period, he also worked part-time for the New York Giants. Then he went to work on a full-time basis in the Giants Public Relations Office from 1983-96.
Always a loyal and proud Cortland alumnus, Olivari arranged for the Alumni Association to annually receive 250-300 tickets to the Giants-Jets pre-season game in the Meadowlands. Over its six-year run in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the alumni event was a perennial sellout. Along with its festive tailgate before the contest, the event became one of the most popular of the association-sponsored functions.
Olivari used his close relationship to the NFL team to secure autographed footballs and other Giants’ memorabilia that were raffled thereby raising thousands of dollars for a variety of SUNY Cortland alumni functions.
One of the many beneficiaries of Olivari’s generosity has been the Post-World War II Reunion. An Army veteran, he has been an active participant and supporter of the annual event since its inception in the 1990s. The funds he helped to raise put the anticipated reunions on secure financial footing.
Leading up to 2009, Olivari directed his enthusiasm and creativity towards the 60th reunion of the Class of 1949. As event co-chair, he personally contacted his classmates, some several times, to urge their attendance at the 2009 Alumni Reunion Weekend. His indefatigable efforts led to an impressive 45 percent showing by the Class of 1949 members. Olivari created a photo calendar featuring the Class of 1949 that was distributed free of charge to all the attendees. At the same time he supplied College caps, blinking pins and other collectors’ items.
In nominating Olivari, his classmate, Rose Marie Luppino Kleinspehn ’49, cited “Ed’s faithfulness, enthusiasm and unselfish hard work on behalf of the College” as traits worthy of the award. A member of Delta Kappa while a Cortland undergraduate, Olivari earned a master’s degree from Columbia University Teachers College and his director’s certification from New York University. He and his wife, Carmela, reside in Cortlandt Manor, N.Y. They have three children, Ed ’76, Nancy ’79 and Carol.
In retirement, Olivari still helps scout college players for the Giants, several of whom have been drafted by the organization.