March 19, 2013

Rod Giltz named Irishman


---- — PLATTSBURGH — When Roderic Giltz’s father was named Irishman of the Year in 1979, the breakfast was followed by a parade through downtown Plattsburgh featuring the honoree and his family.

While Rod was pleased for his dad, the venerable E. Glenn Giltz, it couldn’t have come at a worse time.

“I remember thinking: I have things to do, I can’t ride around in a parade all day,” he said with a big smile Monday morning after he was awarded the same honor given to his father 34 years ago.

There was no parade this year and hasn’t been for a few decades, but Rod was certainly the main attraction of Monday’s North Country Chamber of Commerce annual St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast.


The ceremony marked the 55th time a worthy soul was given the honor, which indicates the recipient’s devotion to community service over the years, along with genuine fellowship.

Rod’s selection marked the first time a father and son have won the award.

He was pleasantly surprised.

“I applied for the job in Rome (as new Roman Catholic pope), and I figured I was a long shot for that, but I thought this would be an even bigger long shot,” Rod kidded with the crowd after receiving his honor from Master of Ceremonies Kevin Killeen. 

Applauding him was a crowd of about 400 at SUNY Plattsburgh’s Warren Ballroom.


Rod, 75, is known in the North Country for shepherding the family business, Northern Insuring, as its chairman for decades.

But he is also just as well known for the amount of time he has spent serving on community boards, trusts and foundations.

He has chaired or has been president of 12 community organizations in his career and has served on another half-dozen boards.

“It’s all about community,” a humbled Rod said, with his family nearby Monday.

“This is a great community, and I am glad to be a part of it and help out.”

A former Chamber of Commerce president, Rod said that a few years ago he wondered if he would ever reach the heights of his father by hearing Killeen announce his name at the breakfast, but he really didn’t think it would happen.

“It goes through your head a little bit, and you might think about it a little, and you want to be a little prepared because you don’t want to look foolish. But like I said, I thought it would be a long shot,” he said.

“But it’s nice to be able to follow in my father’s footsteps.”


Rod spends some of his time in semi-retirement in Florida but still makes his way home several times each winter, often heading out for runs down the mountain at his favorite ski areas.

In order to get him to venture north for this special day, however, daughter Deena Giltz McCullough engineered a tricky ruse (fake letterhead and all) about Northern Insuring winning some award in Massena, for which Rod just had to be present.

It worked, but Rod was a bit disappointed.

“We didn’t get any award,” he laughed.

The popularity of Rod’s selection was evident, as the line of well-wishers shaking hands with him after the breakfast snaked far across the Warren Ballroom floor. It ate away precious moments of the workday, although no one seemed to mind too much.

“There are a lot of good people who have won this and a lot of good people who could win, so it’s nice to be recognized by your peers,” Rod said.

“I’ve done a lot in this community, and I’ve enjoyed it all. And this is a way of saying thank you, I guess. 

“And I really appreciate it.”

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Past Irishmen of the Year, as designated by the North Country Chamber of Commerce:

1959: Erwin "Joe" Bornstein

1960: Dr. George W. Angell

1961: Gen. Perry M. Hoisington

1962: Horace F. Davies

1963: Evalon A. Merritt

1964: George M. Larios

1965: Dr. Angelo LaMariana

1966: The Rev. Michael Reilly

1967: Maj. Gen. Warren Johnson

1968: Mayor Roland St. Pierre

1969: Mose "Scottie" Aspinall

1970: Marie L. Beemer

1971: James A. FitzPatrick

1972: Edward W. Smith

1973: I. Edward Klineberg

1974: Euclid M. Gordon

1975: Dr. Nicholas F. Troisi

1976: William J. McBride

1977: Jann M. Shambo

1978: Dr. A.B. De Grandpre

1979: E. Glenn Giltz

1980: Curtis E. Shipman

1981: Dr. Alfred Light

1982: Rita Banks

1983: Clyde A. Lewis

1984: Mary Ellen Rogers

1985: Msgr. Morris Dwyer

1986: Christopher "Kit" Booth

1987: John and Helen Ianelli

1988: Michael Finnegan

1989: Elizabeth "Petie" Wheeler

1990: Keith Defayette

1991: Joe McGrath

1992: Paul Green

1993: Charles Lewis

1994: Michael Mannix

1995: Claire Goineau

1996: Gordon Little

1997: Wayne Byrne

1998: Stanley Ransom

1999: William Morgan

2000: Sen. Ronald B. Stafford

2001: Jack LaDuke

2002: Jeannie Roberts

2003: Shirley O'Connell

2004: Mark Barie

2005: Art Spiegel

2006: Dr. Nancy Church

2007: John Masella

2008: Gordon Hazel

2009: Herbert Carpenter

2010: John Zurlo

2011: Celine Paquette

2012: Hope Coryer

2013: Roderic G. Giltz