Famous Oswegonians

The following is a list of famous Oswegonians. Some were born in Oswego destined to gain credentials elsewhere only to contribute to their hometown by giving to the rest of the world; many were journeymen through Oswego to use their experience here as a stepping stone to more meaningful endeavors; but all were integral to the formation of the tight-knit community Oswego, New York provides.

  • Michael C. O'Brien

Erik Cole

Born on November 6, 1978, Cole has been successful in pursuing a career in hockey. Attending Clarkson University, Cole was an excellent player for his team, the Golden Knights, where he would often rack up good numbers for a team that does not like to open up ice. In one season he achieved 17 goals and 29 points. Cole was drafted in 1998 to play for the the Carolina Hurricanes in the NHL.  In 2006 the Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup.  Erik brought the Stanley Cup to Oswego in August 2006 to share with his family, friends and many fans at a ceremony held at Fort Ontario.  Cole and his family have been instrumental in fundraising for the Oswego Public Library Renovation campaign donating their time and money for this great project.


Career Stats-Games played 324, Goals 99, Assists 114 as of January 25, 2007

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Francis D. Culkin

Born in Oswego in 1874, Culkin served in the U.S. Army during the Spanish-American War. Later, he became a county judge from 1921-28 and soon after a delegate to the Republican National Convention. He was also a U.S. representative from New York 32nd District until he died in 1943.

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George Grant

Born in Oswego in 1847, Dr. George Grant graduated from Harvard Dental School in 1870. A lover of the game of golf, Grant is the man responsible for creating an improved tapered golf tee, which was Patent No. 638,920 on December 12, 1899. It was the first patent ever made for a golf tee. Grant did not mass market his idea, but rather just used the tee for his own personal use and his close circle of golfing friends. Grant is also famous for his invention of the oblate palate, which is a prosthetic device he developed for the treatment of the cleft palate.

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Robert Hensel

Robert was born on May 8, 1969, in Rota, Spain with a birth defect know as spina bifida.  He serves as an advocate for the disabled, an on going effort to better the rights of all americans with disabilities.  He is an international poet-writer with over 900 publications published worldwide.  In 2000, Robert was nominated as one of the best poets of the 20th century.  Recently, he was nominated for the pushcart prize, an award given to outstanding poets & writers.  Robert is also a Guinness & Ripley's World record holder for the longest non stop wheelie in a wheelchair, covering a total distance of 6.178 miles.  The reason for his record, was to help raise money for wheelchair ramps throughout the community.  In October 2006, Robert was asked to carry the torch for the 2006 Asian games.  Mr. Hensel has been nominated for many awards and some of his accomplishments have found a permanent home within the walls of The Museum of Disability History.  The Museum of Disability History is the only museum of its kind, displaying the artifacts and accomplishments connected to some of histories most notable disabled figures of our time, such as Helen Keller and many others.  The museum is located in Buffalo, New York.

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Thomas Kingsford

Born in Bergen, New Jersey, Kingsford is famous for developing an innovative technique in creating starch through a process using maize, Indian corn. Initially manufacturing the starch in Bergen, NJ, Kingsford later moved his operation to Oswego where better facilities would allow for the development of his starch, in what would be called The Oswego Starch Factory. After his death in 1898, the starch development was taken up by his son, Thomson Kingsford, who expanded the factory. After his death in 1900, the plant was taken over by the National Starch Company. Having made such great industrial advances in Oswego, Kingsford Park Elementary School is now named in Thomas's honor.

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Simon Le Moyne

Born in France in 1604, Le Moyne joined the Society of Jesus in 1623. He traveled to Canada in 1638 assigned to the Huron Mission. At around 1653, he set out on an Iroquois Mission that would take him through the St. Lawrence and into Lake Ontario where he would reach a fishing village at the mouth of the Oswego River. After converting a large number of the Iroquois, including some chiefs, he returned to Canada giving a favorable report and thus being assigned to several more missions including work with the Mohawks. Le Moyne was also the first to discover the Salt Springs of Onondaga.

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Shelby Lyons

Born in Oswego on May 24, 1981, Shelby Lyons has achieved a high level of success in the world of figure skating, both in pairs and single competition. She and her partner, Brian Wells, won bronze medals in the 1996 U.S. pairs competitions and silver medals in 1998. Together, they also placed 10th in the 1998 World Championships. Pursuing a career in singles competition as well, Lyons has won the gold medal in the Junior U.S. Nationals, as well as placing 10th in the U.S. Nationals singles. Following these accomplishments, Lyons has since turned professional and joined Disney On Ice, playing the role of Snow White.

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Charles C Crisafulli

Charles C. Crisafulli, GM2c, United States Navy.  Crisafulli was the first casuality of WWll from Oswego and Oswego Co.  He gave his life attempting to save the life of a shipmate in the North Atlantic on February 18, 1942.  One of Oswego's Little League Baseball sites is named in his honor, Crisafulli Field.


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Al Roker

Having attended SUNY Oswego and receiving a B.A. in Communications in 1976, Roker has since gone on to become a famous weatherman working for NBC. He began his career by working as a weatherman for WTVH-TV in Syracuse while still attending college in 1974. After graduating from SUNY Oswego, he went on to broadcasting in Washington and Cleveland, Ohio. He was awarded the American Meteorological Society's Seal of Approval and has been a leader in using computer graphics in broadcasting weather. Roker, a seven time Emmy Award winner, has also co-hosted many major events, such as Christmas in Rockefeller Center, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, and the Rose Bowl Parade. In 1994, he founded the Al Roker Productions, Inc. which has telecasted several hit shows including Savage Skies and Going Places. Roker has, since 1996, been a famous member of the NBC Today Show, serving as a weatherman.

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Jerry Seinfeld

Born in Brooklyn in 1954, Seinfeld spent most of his youth on Long Island. After graduating high school, he first attended SUNY Oswego before later moving on to Queens College of the City University of New York, where he received a B.A. in 1976 in communications and theatre. After graduating college, Seinfeld went on to perform in multiple comedy clubs in New York. He soon caught the eye of Rodney Dangerfield who included him in a special on HBO. He since then went on to become a regular on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson as well as David Letterman where he gained popularity. Soon after, Seinfeld developed a sitcom series that was arguably one of the most successful ever before he ended the show in favor of returning to stand-up comedy.

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Mary Walker

Born November 26, 1832 in Oswego, Walker graduated from Syracuse Medical College in 1855 at a time when women were often viewed as property rather than human beings. She served as a nurse during the Civil War, as women were not allowed to be doctors at that time. She was instrumental in helping those injured in battles such as Manassas and Chickamauga. She would sometimes cross enemy lines to help those injured or sick. At one point she was captured by the Confederates and made a prisoner until her services were called upon for the battle for Atlanta. After the Civil War, Walker was recommended the Congressional Medal of Honor by Generals William Sherman and George Thomas, which she received in 1866. During the Purge of 1917 the Medal of Honor she had been awarded was attempted to be revoked by the government but Walker held onto it proudly until she died 2 years later in 1919. Later, President Jimmy Carter reinstated her right to the Medal, honoring this humanitarian who fought to help save lives at the risk of her own personal safety.

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David Branshaw

David Branshaw, born in Oswego on September 25, 1969, qualified for the PGA Tour in 2004.   Branshaw was one of the top 125 golfers in 2006 and earned over $700,000.  He retained his PGA card privilege for 2007.

Career Highlights- he has played in 59 events, finished in the top 10 twice and the top 25 nine times


Michael C. O'Brien

Born in Oswego, NY on December 23, 1965.  O'Brien died on May 1, 2005 in a fall as he and his brother, Christoper, were attempting to become the first American brothers to climb Mount Everest.  The were dedicating the climb to try to raise $100,000.00 to help find a cure for Huntington's disease, a degenerative neurological inherited illness which claimed the lives of his mother, grandmother, sister, aunt and uncle.  Although Michael was not able to see his goal realized, his family and many friends continued fundraising so his goal would be met.  On December 23, 2005, a benefit basketball game was held at Laker Hall, "Cat" High vs. "Pub" High and raised over $23,000.00 which helped to surpass Mike's goal.  Fundraisers have also been held in Chicago, Seattle and Dublin, Ireland to suport Mike's effort.



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