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William McCarthy

Man with bear and glasses wearing a suit and tie

Bill McCarthy

An art teacher in the South Glens Falls School System for 30 years, Bill McCarthy chaired the art department from 1980 to 1995. But Mr. McCarthy is best known as the founder of the South High Marathon Dance, which has raised more than $1.4-million for local charities and causes in the 32 years since it began in 1978.

Mr. McCarthy graduated from the State University College at Buffalo in 1970, and earned graduate degrees at Buffalo, Plattsburgh State, the University at Albany and Manhattan College. He began his teaching career at Barker Central School in Barker, N.Y., in 1970, before joining the faculty at South High in 1973. He taught art in both the junior and senior high schools until 1980, when he moved to the Senior High School, teaching pottery, drawing, painting and advanced placement art classes. He retired from teaching in 2003, and now teaches adult pottery classes as owner of Eastside Pottery Studio and Gallery in Glens Falls.

Always deflecting praise for his work with the Marathon Dance, there is no doubt that Mr. McCarthy’s selfless work in starting and keeping the event going is the main reason the Marathon Dance has continued to grow. He served as the Marathon Dance’s faculty advisor and chief organizer from 1978 to 2002, and has missed just one dance in the event’s 32 years.

“The story isn’t who started the dance,” he has said. Instead, he insists, the story is made up of hundreds of little stories, acts of kindness that have cemented the Marathon Dance in this community.

As current Marathon Dance faculty advisor Tom Myott said, “Although Bill McCarthy has retired from teaching, he still plays an integral role in the dance. The advice and wisdom he offers is invaluable. Who better to remind us — current core volunteers, dancers and community members — of the dance’s purpose and history than the one who started it all? The Marathon Dance will always be a part of him, and he a part of it. What a legacy!”

Mr. McCarthy has been honored 15 times for his teaching and community service work. Most recently, he won the Riverside School Bell Retired Teachers Award, and also has been honored by the Rotary Club, the Ronald McDonald House, New York State Jaycees and the New York State Assembly. He won the South Glens Falls Historical Association Teacher Recognition Award in 2000, and the South High Parents and Alumni Award in 1990 and 1997.

The son of William and Nora McCarthy, Bill and his wife, Linda, have three sons: Lucas and his wife, Kathy; Collin and his wife, Rachel, and Kyle and his wife, Molly. They also have four grandchildren: Otis, Cyrus, Norah and Cennedi.