Sullivan County Historical Society History Preserver Award 2007
Paul Gerry was born April 1, 1926 in New York City, the son of the late William and Naomi Gorowitz. He attended the Industrial School of the Arts in the City where he learned the many aspects of photography. During WWII he enlisted in the army and was awarded the Purple Heart for a wound received during the Battle of the Bulge.
The Gorowitz family, which also included two younger brothers, Alan and Maurice, moved to Sullivan County and purchased an old homestead in Ferndale. After being discharged from service, Paul began his career as a photographer. He soon acquired an outstanding reputation and took photographs of the many famous comedians and entertainers who performed at the major Catskill Hotels. His most famous photograph, one which received worldwide distribution, was that of the wedding of the youthful Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher at nearby Grossinger’s Hotel. His aerial photographs of the 1969 Woodstock Festival also received worldwide distribution. For thirty years Paul served as the official photographer for the New York State Police and his photographs of accidents and fires were used both by the local and metropolitan newspapers.
In 1968 he opened Revonah Records, a Bluegrass label, from a studio located in his home. Artists came from as far away as Virginia and Tennessee to work with him. With the growing popularity of video came the emergence of another venture, Tel-E-Vue Productions, which covered video production, documentaries and news. Paul also taught himself to cut master lacquers on a disc mastering lathe and soon was cutting masters and doing record production for artists all over the world in all forms of music – jazz, rock and pop – in yet another new business called The Cutting Edge.
One of Paul’s special interests was that of railroads. He was a founding member in 1982 of the Catskill Society of Model Train Engineers – an outgrowth of that early fascination with the “iron horse.” He contributed photographs for Manville Wakefield’s book, “To the Mountains by Rail,” and filmed the departure of the last Ontario & Western Railway train in Sullivan County as it made its way from Roscoe to Mi8ddletown in 1957.
Paul was active in many community activities. He was a member of the Liberty Chamber of Commerce, President for three terms of the Sullivan County Historical Society, a past board member of Sullivan Performing Arts, a member of the Liberty Auxiliary Police, the Sullivan County Shields, the Sullivan County Chamber of Commerce, a founding member of the Liberty Museum and Arts Center and a member of the Clarence Hoyt Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9217. In June of 1995 he was named “Citizen of the Year” by the Liberty Chamber of Commerce.
A special blessing entered Paul’s life in 1973 when he married Patricia James who had grown up in California. Because of her background as a dancer, she was able to share Paul’s artistic interests and she soon shared his interest in county history. Theirs was an exceptional partnership in that Pat worked in the businesses as well.
Paul spent the last decades of his life involved with efforts to preserve Sullivan County’s history and to revitalize the area. It was surely appropriate that the Liberty Museum and Art Center which had acquired the former Katz’s Bakery building, dedicated its first major historic exhibit to Paul’s work.