A monumental presence in the SUNY Geneseo community for decades, Bob "Doc" Isgro, SUNY Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Music, who died last March, and his wife, Mary Isgro, were known for building strong ties with students.
Since 1963, Bob, with Mary by his side, mentored many music students and led the Geneseo Chamber Singers, a chorus of international reputation, in performances across the world. Bob retired in 1998, but their contributions and commitment to Geneseo students never wavered.
Through their scholarships and endowments, the Isgros have created a legacy for future generations of students pursuing musical aspirations. Their most recent gift—The Dr. Robert M. and Maria L. Isgro Choral Music Endowment—supports academically recognized chorus ensembles of Geneseo, including artists-in-residence and voice lessons, as well as performances and tours.
"Students are our future," Mary says, "and opening their eyes to new experiences is important. In our case, we were able to back them up with some financial help."
The Isgros were widely known for helping students, and alumni feel a part of the Isgro family. Mary remembers their time spent with the Chamber Singers and how on multiple occasions, Bob would buy a Chamber Singer their plane or bus ticket, so they could travel with the group. He would also always ensure that when abroad, every student had money in the right currency to buy food.
"We always had a Christmas party for the Chamber Singers," says Mary. "We had meals and special food that Bob made. He was a very good cook and made wonderful desserts—there was lots of good food."
David Bullwinkle ’96 remembers those holiday parties. As a Chamber Singer from his first year to graduation, he says the Isgros made a major impact on him.
"It was a highlight of my undergraduate experience at Geneseo," says Bullwinkle. "Doc made the best pizza you have ever had. It was a special treat to get the invite to their home for pizza dinner. Their legacy is indescribable."
Dr. Gerard Floriano '84, Distinguished Service Professor and Chair of Geneseo's Department of Music & Musical Theatre and director of Choral Activities, has led the Geneseo Chamber Singers since 1998 and is himself is a former Chamber Singer.
"Bob built the SUNY Geneseo Choral program through his commitment to the students and the college as well as his hard work and talent," Floriano says. "His legacy and contributions to the choral program and to the department overall are gifts that we continue to value and cherish."
Their legacy lives on and helped create the lasting culture in the music department that also keeps alumni so engaged.