The Finger Lakes resident credited with saving the Canandaigua VA Medical Center decades ago recently had a highway named in his honor.
The “Ralph Calabrese Memorial Highway” begins on Route 21 at E. Gibson and N. Main Streets in Canandaigua and ends at Route 488 in the Town of Hopewell.
Calabrese is credited with saving the Canandaigua VA Medical Center when the federal government recommended closing the facility decades ago. He launched an extensive grassroots campaign – organizing community rallies, collecting thousands of letters of support, speaking at hearings, and battling Washington.
He dedicated his life to advocating for fellow veterans and the community. He was a veteran of the Korean War and served in the U.S. Army.
In 2012, Calabrese was inducted into the New York State Senate Veterans Hall of Fame.
“As his son, I had firsthand knowledge of what a good and great man he was, especially where the veterans were concerned,” his son, Dominic said. “This is an honor that will keep his legacy alive in everyone that passes through that corridor of Route 21.”
State Senator Pam Helming and Assemblyman Jeff Gallahan worked together on the legislative effort to rename that portion of Route 21.
“Mr. Calabrese was an American hero, a fierce advocate for his fellow veterans, and my good friend,” Helming said in a release. “Designating ‘Ralph Calabrese Memorial Highway’ is a symbol of our enduring gratitude and respect. Our community and state are indebted to Mr. Calabrese not only for his service in the Korean War, but for his leadership here at home to save the Canandaigua VA Medical Center and fight for the benefits and support every veteran deserves. Whether you saw him in a parade or at a Canandaigua Braves football game, Mr. Calabrese’s incomparable spirit was palpable and infectious.”
Gallahan shared that sentiment, reiterating Calabrese’s love of community.
“[He] was a man who loved his country and his community like no other,” the Assemblyman wrote. “His dedicated service to our nation and efforts to support our veterans were truly laudable, and it is because of him the Canandaigua VA Medical Center has been able to continue their important work in support of our service members. I can think of few people from our community worthy of this recognition like Ralph, so I am grateful to see this bill signed into law to memorialize his legacy for future generations.”
Calabrese passed away on December 5th, 2021 at the Canandaigua VA.