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Marchioris, Whalen, Zak honored with Gaudete Medals by St. Bonaventure

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From left: Timea, Emily, Luke, Patricia and Gary Marchiori, Dave Whalen, and Dr. Joseph Zimmer, SBU’s acting president display their Gaudete Medals received from St. Bonaventure University. Another recipient, Robert Zak was unable to attend. (Photo courtesy of St. Bonaventure University)

ST. BONAVENTURE — St. Bonaventure University honored a family and two individuals for their selfless contributions to the Buffalo community at its Gaudete Medals ceremony Thursday, Oct. 28, at The Marin.

St. Bonaventure’s Gaudete Medal honors business and community leaders who exemplify the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi through their joy, hope, positive outlook on life, sincerely compassionate spirit and desire to serve humankind. Recipients of the Gaudete, which means “Rejoice!” in Latin, have inspired, encouraged and enlightened others through their personal and professional lives. 

Honored were:

The Marchiori Family, in memory of Ryan Marchiori, ’08

The Williamsville family is a longtime supporter of St. Bonaventure’s School of Business School and athletics programs, Catholic Charities, and several local human needs causes.

Patricia Marchiori’s career as an instructor, mentor and advocate began locally at the Cantalician Center before she dedicated 28 years to the Special Education Department in the Williamsville Central Schools district. Patricia was instrumental in the transition of the program to an inclusive education setting. 

Gary Marchiori is the owner of EnergyMark, a leading regional natural gas, electric and renewables company. A major supporter of SBU’s basketball program, EnergyMark employs 18 professionals and has trained 36 interns over the last 10 years. Luke Marchiori, SBU ’11, MBA ’12, directs EnergyMark’s electric supply and renewables program.

The Marchiori family dedicated the honor to Ryan Marchiori, SBU ’08, MBA ’09, who passed away Oct. 16, 2019, from complications after an auto accident. Known for his strength, compassion and kindness, Ryan embodied the Franciscan values of community and service to others.

Ryan was vice president of sales and marketing for EnergyMark, where he worked with this father and brother and led a team of Energy Advisors. He was active in Leadership Buffalo, Clean Communities of WNY, the Hydrocephalus Foundation, St. Gregory Eucharistic minister and a supporter of Amherst Youth Soccer. His dedication to his family and sincere nature was an inspiration to others.

David Whalen, SBU Class of ’84

Whalen founded Disability Awareness Training in September 2004. The training is designed to both sensitize and educate the audience on all aspects of disabilities including, but not limited to, definitions of disabilities, etiquette and interaction skills, stigma and misperceptions, inclusion and integration, and overcoming barriers through advocacy.

Whalen spent 17 years at Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara serving individuals with developmental disabilities. He established groundbreaking programs recognized statewide. He served on the Western New York Developmental Disabilities Awareness Day committee from 1993 to 2008 and was instrumental in starting the Diocese of Buffalo’s Disability Action Team.

Past president of SBU’s Buffalo Alumni Chapter of St. Bonaventure (1997-2017), Whalen is a volunteer for Skating Athletes Bold at Heart, and the Committee on Special Education; serves as the vice president of the Central Amherst Little League Challenger division; and is past president of the Board of the Williamsville Special Education Parent Teacher Student Association.

He is co-founder of Access Buffalo, a progressive initiative to ensure that individuals with disabilities can access restaurants and hotels in the Buffalo area. Niagara University awarded Whalen the Vincentian Medal of Honor in September 2019.

Whalen and his wife, Sandy, live in Williamsville and are proud parents of 22-year-old twins David and Rachel, who were born 11 weeks premature; from that, David has cerebral palsy, seizure disorder, and a learning disability. He has received his Skills and Achievement Commencement Credential from Williamsville South while Rachel graduated summa cum laude from Cornell.

Robert Zak

Zak is chair of the board of directors of Merchants Mutual Insurance Company and its subsidiaries. He joined Merchants in 1985 and served as president and CEO from 1995 until retiring in March 2021. He was the company’s primary representative to industry and agent trade organizations, community and civic organizations, and insurance rating organizations. 

A graduate of the University at Buffalo, Zak serves as a director or trustee of, among many, the 100 Club of Buffalo and Western New York, Buffalo State College Council, InVest Buffalo Niagara, Prentice Family Foundation and Rand Capital Corporation.

Zak also served in a governance role for Dean’s Advisory Councils at Canisius College and UB, Canisius High School, Great Lakes Health System, National Multiple Sclerosis Society of WNY, and United Way of Buffalo & Erie County.

A native of Western New York, Zak and his wife, Margaret, have three adult sons.

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