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The primary purpose of the B.M.C. Durfee Alumni website is to encourage contact among fellow alumni through reunions, publications, and through person-to-person contact. 

REMINDER - Is your class planning a reunion? Please complete the form on the reunions page or e-mail reunion information to so that it will be printed in the Chimes, shared on Facebook and posted on this website.

View the dedication of the NEW BMC Durfee High School building here: Click on this link

Alumni Meetings:

Durfee High School Alumni Meeting Dates

2023 - 2024

Meetings are held at the Granite Grille 

October 16, 2023, 6PM

January 9, 2024, 11:30 AM

April 8, 2024, 6PM

November 13, 2023, 6PM

February 13, 2024, 11:30 AM

May 13, 2024, 6PM

December 12, 2023, 11:30 AM

March 11, 2024, 6PM

June 10, 2024 6PM

 B.M.C. Durfee High School Alumni Assoc. Annual Meeting, Thursday, May 23, 2024 at 6:00 PM


Please join us to honor Scholarship Recipients and Distinguished Alumni.

The B. M. C. Durfee High School Alumni Association will be awarding the title of Distinguished Alumnus to two graduates from the 1950's at their Annual Meeting on Thursday, May 23rd in the Durfee Auditorium. Dr. Joel Potash, class of '54, a Physician in Greater Syracuse, New York who was important in developing the fields of Family Medicine and Hospice Care, will be at the Annual Meeting, speaking about his life. Dr. Elaine Ostroff, class of '51, will give a p\PowerPoint presentation; she has been a pioneer in making community life fully accessible to people with handicaps, founding the Institute for Human Centered Design and working with the United Nations on the Rights of children around the world. 


Also at the Annual Meeting, scholarships from the Alumni Scholarship fund will be presented to Durfee seniors, and the Durfee Orchestra will perform. The program is open to everyone. There will be a reception from 6-7, with the program at 7, at the new Durfee High School, 460 Elsbree St. Fall River.



2024 Distinguished Alumni Recipients

Distinguished Alumnus Dr. Joel Potash, Durfee class of 1954

Joel Potash ’54 was the youngest of three boys, all born in Fall River, and all graduates of Durfee High School. Joel’s dad and mother immigrated as young children in the early 1900s from Poland and Belarus, respectively, and moved to Fall River from New York City around the time of the great depression, when his dad got a job in a curtain factory in Fall River. His mom was a graduate of Hunter College, but his dad only went as far as the sixth- grade, although he later attended the Bradford Durfee Textile Institute. Joel attended the Dubuque School, the Highland School and Morton Junior High prior to Durfee. What he remembers most about his education in Fall River was the personal attention and encouragement of his many teachers.


            Once he obtained a work permit, he worked after school and on Saturdays in his father’s curtain factory in Union Mill #3, and later during the summers between college years. He attended Dartmouth College, where tuition and a dorm room was about $1250, helped by a Charles V. Carroll scholarship from Durfee, which he repaid as soon as he could, and his factory earnings. He could also hitchhike from Fall River to Hanover NH. At Dartmouth, while a pre-med student, he found his science courses difficult. He majored in English, which he loved, graduating with Honors in his English major and three citations from Professors for Excellence in English. In 1962 he entered Boston University School of Medicine, found his first two years of basic science difficult, but loved his last two years of clinical study in hospitals and clinics. At that time, he wanted to become a general practitioner. He went with a colleague and best friend to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Syracuse, NY, to intern, since his friend sought cold weather and copious amounts of snow. This was the time of the Vietnam War.


On completing his internship, he was drafted into the US Army, commissioned a Captain in the Medical Corp., and stationed at Ft. Sam Houston, in San Antonio Texas, where he headed with his wife and daughter. He worked in the out-patient department for two years and was head of Exam Board #3 as well. On honorable discharge in 1965, he received a citation for his service. While in Texas, the specialty of Family Practice, later called Family Medicine, was being conceived. He returned to St. Joseph’s, one of the six pilot Family Practice residencies in the US, and took another year of training with the help of the GI Bill. Enamored of the rural beauty while at Dartmouth, he found a small town, Cazenovia NY, about 20 miles outside of Syracuse. He and his best friend went there to practice. With the help of the Sears Roebuck Foundation, Cazenovia built a new medical building, charged minimal rent, and eventually turned the building over to the physicians, using their rental toward the purchase price.

            In his Family Practice, he had junior medical students take six-week electives in his office, as a Clinical Assistant Professor in a newly founded Department of Family Practice at Upstate Medical University, State University of New York. In 1975 he left private practice to become full-time faculty at Upstate. His major role was teaching family practice residents and starting a faculty practice at St. Joseph’s Hospital.

            Medical ethics was on the rise in the 1980’s, and Joel took a sabbatical at the University of Virginia in the Religion Department to study Medical Ethics under the mentorship of Professor James Childress. On return to Syracuse, he assumed the role of Ethics Consultant at both University Hospital and St. Joseph’s Hospital, and later chaired the Ethics Committee at both hospitals. He remains on both Ethics Committees to this day.

             In a Consortium of Upstate, LeMoyne College and Syracuse University, he taught courses in Medical Ethics, The History of the Family and Health Care in the United States, Death and Dying, and AIDS in American Literature.

            He became part-time Medical Director of Hospice of Central New York in 1989, and as that role grew, he resigned from Upstate Medical School and became full-time Medical Director of Hospice, as well as part-time physician at the Onondaga Nation Territory. He used his training as a Family Physician to visit terminally ill patients and their families at home, often avoiding painful ambulance rides and long waits at hospital emergency rooms.

            When he retired from Hospice at age 65, he returned to Upstate Medical School’s Center for Bioethics and Humanities as Ethics Consultant and Chair of the Ethics Committee, University Hospital where he also taught Medical Humanities.

            Retiring again at age 70, he served as a volunteer physician at the Poverello Free Clinic of the Assumption Church until 2020, caring for people who were poor and/or uninsured.


Joel wrote and received grants from the Regional Medical Program to establish a Physician Assistants office in a medically unserved area, and for continuation of the Georgetown (NY) Medical Satellite. From his days in the Army, he became aware of the important role of Army Medics and the development of training programs to continue their education and training in the new profession of Physician Assistants. In 1992,he endowed the Joel Potash Lectureship in End-of-Life Care. In 1994 the Joel Potash Fund was funded at Hospice of Central New York.


Joel has served on the Boards of Directors of Contemporary Theater of Syracuse, Opera Theater of Syracuse, Salt City Playhouse, New York State Academy of Family Physicians and Society of New Music. He was named New State Academy of Family Physicians “Doctor of the Year” in 1993 and was one of three finalists for Doctor of the Year of the American Academy of Family Physicians. Other awards include the Dr Ernie Carhart Teaching Award, St. Joseph’s Hospital, 1989; Onondaga County Medical Society: Medical Society and Community Service Award, 1992; Sister Patricia Ann Award for Excellence, St Joseph’s Hospital 1994: and the 2007 Hospice Anita Award “for his active listening, presence at the bedside, and highest standards of practice in end-of-life care.”. A bench has been placed in St. Joseph’s Statue Circle by St. Joseph’s Hospital Medical Staff “Honoring Joel Potash, MD for 60 years of teaching and compassionate care of our community”. He has received numerous other awards in Syracuse and Cazenovia.


            Joel opened and ran an art gallery, Twelve Rms-4, for three years with the goal of displaying the works of area artists. In his 70s, he became a Master Gardener through Cornell Cooperative Extension; he volunteers in the community in this role. As a member of Armory Square Playwrights, his play, “The Miracle”, which takes place in a concentration camp in World War Two, between Chanukah and Christmas eve, was produced in Chicago by Redo Opera Co.

            Joel lives In Syracuse NY with his wife Sandra Hurd. His daughter Rachel and her husband Patrick Todoroff live in Hyannis, MA. He has three grandchildren and four terrific great-grandchildren. Joel’s other daughter, Leslie Roesch, died in 2023 from cancer.



Distinguished Alumna  Dr. Elaine Ostroff, Durfee Class of 1951


Elaine Phillips Ostroff was born on February 27, 1933 and grew up in Fall River, Massachusetts. She graduated from Durfee High School (1951), received a B.S. from Brandeis University (1955), was awarded a Radcilffe Fellowship (1970) and an Ed.M from Harvard University (1972). She is a pioneer in The Universal Design Movement, an international effort advocating design for disabled persons to enjoy access, independence, and convenience. It can aid persons with mobility, visual, hearing, cognitive, developmental, neurological, and other disabilities.


In 1978, Ostroff co-founded with Cora Beth Abel the Adaptive Environments Center (now the Institute for Human Centered Design (IHCD) to confront the barriers which prevent persons with disabilities and older people from fully participating in community life.


In 1989, with support from the National Endowment for the Arts, she developed the National Universal Design Education Project (UDEP) at Adaptive Environments. A national project, UDEP sought to incorporate universal design in professional curricula. Ostroff coined the term "user/expert" in 1995 to identify individuals whose personal experiences give them unique critical capacity to evaluate environments.


As an educator, Ostroff has been involved with the accessible environments effort on a national and international level since 1971. She was the former director of training for the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health where she developed graduate programs and courses to sustain community based living for people with disabilities.


In 1977, she was the United States representative to the United Nations meeting on the Rights of Children. She convened the national seminar on Design for All People that provided the framework for the UDEP in 1982. In 1986, she developed the "Best of Accessible Boston," an awards program honoring the architects and owners of buildings that exemplified good as well as accessible design.


In 2001 , she was the senior editor of the "Universal Design Handbook" used as a textbook in educational settings.


In 2004, she was the first American, and first woman, to receive the Misha Black Medal from the Royal College of Art. In 2006, the American Institute of Architects awarded her the Honorary AIA designation. Ostroff’s experience emphasized creating educational programs for non-designers, facilitating their design advocacy as well as collaboration with design professionals. She has written and produced technical assistance materials on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that  were used in the National Network for ADA Technical Assistance.


Her papers are archived in the Smithsonian Institution.


She married Earl Carlton Ostroff (1931-2006) in 1953. The couple had three children, Rebecca, Joshua, and Sam. She lives in Natick, MA.


Links of Interest:

BMC Durfee High School

Fall River, MA


Athletic Logo

Clock Tower

In the original building

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