From the Historian: A farewell story from a retiring historian

Jim Burlingame

As this is my last article written as the official East Rochester historian, I thought it might be appropriate to say a little about my service to the community that I was born in and never left.

After 51 years of part-time volunteering (1958-2006) and on the payroll (2006-20) of the village, I am officially retiring. 

I started out as a volunteer fireman in November of 1958 after being discharged from two years in the army, where I served as a photographer. I was the village fire chief from 1976 to 1978. I was writing a book on the fire department and went to pay a visit to Mary Conners, the historian at that time. While doing this, I found that the photo collection could use some organization. 

Jim Burlingame.

I spent much of my time on this project until Mary and I were asked to co-chair the village’s 100th anniversary in 1997. Also, at that time, Gene D’Ambrose, Joe Russo and myself started the local public access TV station ERCN (East Rochester Community News). This involved many hours of videotaping village events and other subjects. Also during this time, Mary and I published a 250-page hard over book on the first 100 years of the village.

After Mary Conners passed away in 2005, I was asked to take her place. She was an extremely hard act to follow, but I have enjoyed every minute of it. But now is the time to pass the torch to my able assistant for the last eight years, Anita Mance.

Before I leave, I would like to say a few words about a graduate of the East Rochester High School Class of 1960, Marian Rizzo. I recently received an email from her asking for some information for a book she was writing. In checking further, I found out she is a very accomplished author. I think she would fit in well as a member of the Village of Champions roster.

Marian Rizzo.

Marian has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, including a New York Times Chairman’s Award and a Pulitzer Prize nomination for explanatory journalism. 

After being a flight attendant for U.S. Airways for 17 years and spending two college semesters as a Youth With a Mission at a training center in Spain, she worked for both the Ocala Star-Banner newspaper and the Ocala Style Magazine for 30 years. Marian has also written several magazine articles for Billy Graham’s Decision Magazine. Two of her books were named on Amazon’s best-seller and hot new release list. Copies of any of her books can be obtained from the Amazon website and the Alpha and Omega bookstore in Rochester.  She is currently working on a book set in a fictional town inspired by her hometown of East Rochester.

Marian lives in Ocala, Florida, and has two daughters and three grandchildren. Her website is 

Jim Burlingame is historian for the town/village of East Rochester.