Canton Online

2022 SUNY Canton Hall of Fame Inductees: Alson '61 and Dr. Mary Ann Caswell


Alson T. Caswell '61


Alson’s roots in farming and general agriculture began as a child, as he grew up on a farm in Canton, where he also attended high school. He earned an associate degree in General Agriculture from what was then known as Canton ATI in 1961.


Alson married Leita Carol Hill, daughter of SUNY Canton professor George Hill. The two started a family and ran a farm in the Carthage area. Leita sadly passed away from breast cancer in 1974.  Alson later married Mary Ann (Sabol) and continued his passion for farming by starting a farm in Heuvelton.


While Alson continued his career as a farmer, his expertise expanded in various farming-related capacities throughout the years. He was a New York State Safety Officer and Health Inspector for the Department of Labor, a Farm Manager of the SUNY Canton College Farm, a Milk Inspector for Northern Bulk, and served farmers and farm workers in the unemployment office.


Alson also served as an ambulance transport driver for RB Lawrence, with Mary Ann as attending, and worked for the CETA Program, with his office stationed at SUNY Canton.


He retired from the State in 2000 and drove bus for Heuvelton Central School for 15 years, fully retiring in 2015.


He was a member of the Knight of Columbus, the Masons as past Grand Master, the Kendrew Grange, and the Sunday School Superintendent at the Beech Plains Presbyterian Church. He also cared for nine horses on a hobby farm and raised 19 guide dogs.


Alson’s connection to SUNY Canton continued through his wife, Mary Ann, who taught at SUNY Canton for many years. He honored Mary Ann’s commitment to nursing students and the nursing profession by providing a large gift to the College to secure naming rights for the Dr. Mary Ann Caswell Nursing Simulation Hospital in 2020.



Dr. Mary Ann Caswell


During her 45-year career, Mary Ann worked at Claxton Hepburn Medical Center, primarily in the Intensive Care Unit, and later as a professor at SUNY Canton until she retired. For many years, she worked as a transport nurse for Claxton Hepburn Medical Center and Canton Potsdam Hospital as well as a home nurse for Health Services of Northern NY.


At SUNY Canton, Mary Ann was the clinical instructor students desired for their hospital clinical rotations. She was "the hardest clinical instructor" with the "highest of expectations;' and "provision of critical thinking skills;' all of which influenced the quality of care that students provided to patients under her tutelage. Many alumni attribute their nursing success to Mary Ann's mentoring, teaching, and leadership.


In November 2003, Mary Ann began researching and seeking funding for the Laerdal SIM Hospital for the Registered Nursing Program. Her tireless efforts and persistence proved to be fruitful. Mary Ann and her husband Alson traveled to Texas to work with Laerdal Medical and in fall 2016, the SIM Hospital opened. For the layout, Mary Ann chose to mimic the nurse's station of Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center, where she provided care to so many patients throughout her career.


In November 2018, Mary Ann sadly passed away. Alson and the rest of her family established the Dr. Mary Ann Caswell Nursing Simulation Hospital in 2020.