Rotarians Laura J. Cordts and Ruth F. Garner have been recognized as Paul Harris Fellows. Cordts is the executive director of the Canton-Potsdam Hospital Foundation and Garner is the deputy mayor of the Village of Potsdam.

Cordts and Garner were honored for their demonstrated commitment to the goals and purposes of Rotary and "in appreciation of their tangible assistance given for the furtherance of better understanding and friendly relations among peoples of the world." They each received a commemorative certificate, a Paul Harris Fellow pin, and a medallion.


The Rotary Club of Potsdam has donated $2,000 in Cordts' and Garner's names to the Rotary Foundation, a not-for-profit corporation that supports the efforts of Rotary International to achieve world understanding and peace through international humanitarian, educational, and cultural exchange programs.


The contribution honoring the new Paul Harris Fellows will be used for projects like saving the lives of children through immunization, bringing water to remote global villages, or the establishment of hospitals in under-developed countries.


Laura Cordts graduated from Colgate University with a degree in sociology, and earned her master of public administration degree from Syracuse University. Most of Cordts' career has been spent working in not-for-profit organizations, including the ARC, American Red Cross, and Canton Church and Community Program. In 1994 she became the annual giving coordinator at the Canton-Potsdam Hospital and is now executive director of the Canton-Potsdam Hospital Foundation.


Cordts was a board member of the Potsdam Chamber of Commerce for ten years, including terms as treasurer, vice president, and president. She has volunteered at the Potsdam Animal Shelter, Reachout, and Renewal House. She is currently a board member for the Potsdam Holiday Fund.


Cordts joined the Potsdam Rotary Club in 1998. Since then she has served two terms on the board of directors, three years as secretary, and will be president starting July 1, 2007. She has served on the Dodge Pond Committee, co-chaired the  Centennial Project, chairs the Holiday Fund food basket project, and worked on the District Conference Committee, the RI President's Dinner Committee, the Duck Race, Golf Tournament, and just about everything else the club does.


Cordts resides in Hannawa Falls with her husband, Shawn Seymour.


Ruth Garner moved to Potsdam in 1934, married George A. Garner and established and operated the Garner Funeral Home with him for 40 years. She became the first woman trustee of the Village of Potsdam in 1973 and first woman mayor in 1977. She served as mayor from 1977 to 1981 and 1993 to 2005. Since 2005 she has served as trustee and deputy mayor.


Garner established the World in Potsdam diversity festival in 1994, was successful in lobbying the state to establish the Potsdam Economic Development Zone, was successful in getting the Potsdam Bypass (Sandstone Drive) completed, and was instrumental in the establishment of the Potsdam hydroelectric plant. She has served as a board member of the Potsdam Public Library, member and president of Renewal House, a board member of the St. Lawrence County Historical Association and has chaired the Rural Services Local Government Group.


Garner is a recipient of the 2004 NYCom Civic Achievement Award, the Thousand Island Girl Scout 2003 Women of Distinction Award, the 2001 New York State Prime Time Award, the 2001 Outstanding Older Worker Award for Northern New York, a 2000 Woman of Distinction Award, a 1999 SUNY Potsdam Distinguished Service Award, a 1998 St. Lawrence University North Country Citation, and the 1997 Silas Wright Award.


Garner resides in the Village of Potsdam.


Photo caption: Laura J. Cordts and Ruth F. Garner were recognized last week as Paul Harris Fellows by the Rotary Club of Potsdam. Cordts is the executive director of the Canton-Potsdam Hospital Foundation and Garner is the deputy mayor of the Village of Potsdam. Left to right: Rotarian Kay Frederick, Cordts, Rotary District Governor Greg Campbell, Garner, and Rotarian Mary Sue Foster.