Died: October 30, 1990
Married: George Peroni
Children: Paul F. (d. 1959), Patricia Peroni, Luke Peroni
From Paul Smith's College Sequel, Winter-Spring 1991
When Frances M. Peroni came to Paul Smith's College in September 1952 as a Foods Teacher in the Hotel and Restaurant Management Department, no one knew that she would inspire so many talented students.
"Ma" Peroni, as she became known to every student, faculty and staff member, was firm in her instructions, but at the same time she had a motherly way of inspiring her students to succeed. "From the moment I met Fran as a student, I instantly liked her," recalled Timothy D. Sullivan TH '64, Chairman of the Hospitality Division. Sullivan remembered many moments with her when he was a student here. "There were students at Fran and George's home all the time. Her whole life was Paul Smith's, and we were her family."
Ruth and Gould Hoyt remembered their close friend as more than just a teacher. "She was a good mother and a lover of family and people," recalled the Hoyts who also noted she challenged her students to strive for higher goals. "She was fair and expectant of her students and insisted on a quality product."
Many friends and associates believe Ma's ability to communicate with her students came naturally and that she was an inspiration for others. Paul Sorgule TH '70, Chairman of the Culinary Arts Program stated, "The first loaf of bread I ever baked was in Fran Peroni's lab. She deeply cared about every student who ever went to Paul Smith's College." Sorgule attributes the success of the Culinary Arts Program to Ma Peroni, who designed and established it in 1980. She was also responsible for acquiring the first equipment for the Food Laboratories in Cantwell Hall through grants.
To many students, friends an colleagues, there was a void created when Fran retired from teaching in 1984. But Ma didn't leave Paul Smith's. Instead, she utilized her talents as Academic and Transfer Counselor for the next five years.
If there is any single feature of Frances Peroni that will be remembered, it will probably be her wit, especially in times of sorrow. Tim Sullivan recounted a moment in his early days of teaching at Paul Smith's when Ma's wit brought a smile to his face. His grandmother had passed away, and Sullivan had asked Fran to help him find a replacement to teach his classes while he attended the funeral services. Without any misgivings, Ma said she would teach them herself. As Sullivan was leaving her office, he recalled, "As I got to the door, she asked me, 'Tim, is this the same grandmother that died four times while you were here at Paul Smith's as a student?' I had to chuckle as she brightened up that day for me. To remember the little things about every student you ever had, you have to care. I'll always remember her."
On August 18th, 1989, in honor of her devotion to Paul Smith's College, the Culinary Arts wing in Cantwell Hall was named for her. Frances "Ma" Peroni passed away on October 30, 1990, after a lengthy illness.