Alfred State couple’s story filled with harmony

Printer-friendly version Posted Date: Monday, December 18, 2017 - 11:00

With the holiday season in full swing, festive music can be heard everywhere, whether it’s over the radio waves or in concert, bringing a little joy to those who hear it.

several band members playing their instruments
The Alfred State concert band is shown preparing for the annual Instrumental Music
Winter Concert, which took place Dec. 9.

At Alfred State, music is an important tradition, especially around the holidays, as the college just hosted its free annual Instrumental Music Winter Concert, this year titled “A Night of Broadway.” For alums of the Alfred State College Choir, keeping this tradition strong is also important, as they even have their own website and provide funds for two music-related scholarships – the Anthony C. Cappadonia Endowed Scholarship and the Richard D. Stillman Memorial Endowed Scholarship.

And for one particular couple, the Alfred State College Choir has its own special significance. Singing in the choir, in fact, ended up leading to a harmonious, decades-long story of love for the pair, with plenty of high notes along the way.

While attending Alfred State in the mid-to-late-1950s, Martha Radley and Jared Woolley were both members of the college choir, with Jared singing tenor and Martha performing as an alto.

Rehearsal took place daily at 3 p.m. at the Alfred Village Fire Hall, and would quite often run close to supper time. As a result, some of the gentlemen singers who owned cars would offer rides to the young ladies to help them get to the dining hall on campus in time for dinner.

And one fateful day, Jared decided he would offer Martha a ride.

“He pulled up the car and I asked, ‘Where are the others?’ He replied, ‘There aren’t any others.’ He was providing a ride for just me to supper,” she said. “Then he asked if I was going with anyone. I replied, ‘Where?’ thinking of an event coming up on the weekend. He said he meant going steady with anyone in particular. I replied, ‘No,’ which began our nearly 60 years of making harmony together.”

That harmonious beginning would eventually lead to several members of the Woolley family becoming Pioneers as well, joining in on the wonderful medley that is the Alfred State Family.

After graduating from the executive secretarial science program in 1958, Martha began working at the FBI in Buffalo as a stenographer. She remained in that position for a little more than a year, and moved to Forestville upon marrying Jared (a 1958 animal husbandry grad) on Sept. 12, 1959. The couple have maintained a farm together on 500 acres of land there ever since.

Pictured is the cover of an album produced in the 1950s by the Alfred State Concert Choir.
Pictured is the cover of an album produced in the 1950s by the Alfred State
Concert Choir.

In addition to Martha and Jared, two of their children, Jim and Mark, and two of their grandchildren, Jessica and Michael, have also graduated from Alfred State.

Speaking to the fact that so many of her family members have become Pioneers, Martha says she is grateful and excited that it was and is possible. She said each of them appreciate the experiences and education they received at the college.

In addition to their Alfred State education, Martha, Jared, and their son Jim also share the fact that they all sang in Anthony Cappadonia’s choir. Cappadonia served as the instrumental and choral director at Alfred State for 56 years, and in 2012, the Anthony C. Cappadonia Auditorium in the Orvis Activities Center was officially dedicated in his honor.

Martha notes that when she and Jared attended the college, approximately 115 students were in the choir. This required three buses to transport the singers to the various locations where they performed.

The couple has since returned to campus several times over the years for alumni choir weekends. Sadly, however, Jared passed into eternal rest on Jan. 28, 2017.

What started out as a simple car ride from choir rehearsal ended up becoming so much more. And while Jared may have passed on, the harmony he created with Martha continues to live on in her heart and in the hearts of the entire Woolley family, who will always be a high note in the Alfred State Family medley.

View a festive video of the Alfred State choir through the years: