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Schimminger establishes scholarship fund at his former high school


TONAWANDAFormer New York State Assemblyman Robin Schimminger is marking his recent retirement by starting a scholarship fund honoring the man who changed the course of this life. 

When Schimminger was in eighth grade, his parents were told by a longtime family friend, Father Robert Versen that he would like to pay Robin’s tuition to attend the new Franciscan-based high school that would be opening in the coming fall. 

Robin Schimminger, Class of 1965

As a result, Schimminger was enrolled in the first entering class of freshmen at Cardinal O’Hara High School in the Town of Tonawanda in the fall of 1961, which would become the first graduating class in June 1965.

Versen generously paid Schimminger’s tuition to Cardinal O’Hara for all four years, a selfless act that positively shaped the rest of his future. Schimminger went on to attend Canisius College and New York University, where he earned a law degree. 

He was elected to the Assembly in 1976, previously serving as a member of the Erie County Legislature for three years. He was re-elected to the Assembly 21 consecutive times. His district (Assembly District 140) included parts of North Buffalo, the Town of Tonawanda, the Village of Kenmore, the City of Tonawanda, and most of North Tonawanda. He did not seek re-election in 2020.

Never having had a formal retirement send-off, Schimminger has decided that rather than benefiting himself personally, his intention is to mark the occasion by “paying forward” the special gift of attending Cardinal O’Hara that was given to him at such a formative time in his young life.

Schimminger has announced that he has established the Rev. Robert Versen Scholarship Fund to assist young people in our community with the opportunity to attend Cardinal O’Hara.

“I cannot think of a better retirement celebration than to honor Rev. Versen, the person who gave me such an incredible gift so many years ago, that forever shaped my life,” said Schimminger.

Mary H. Holzerland, principal at Cardinal O’Hara High School said, “We are truly grateful for the generous scholarship fund established by retired NYS Assemblyman Robin Schimminger in honor of Rev. Versen. This fund will allow students of all faiths and demographics from across Western New York the opportunity to apply for necessary assistance that will ease their families’ financial burdens and make attendance at our great school possible. Mr. Schimminger’s long and distinguished career in the NYS Assembly continues to be a source of enormous pride at Cardinal O’Hara among students, alumni, faculty and staff.”

Friends and colleagues are invited to the Saturn Club, 977 Delaware Ave., Buffalo Thursday, May 5, 5:30-7:30 p.m. to partake in this special retirement reception. The net proceeds from the event will initiate the Rev. Robert Versen Scholarship Fund at Cardinal O’Hara High School.   

For ticket information and special sponsorship opportunities contact Renee Orr at the school at 716-695-2600 ext. 312 or via email at rorr@cardinalohara.com.