1970-1979 Geography Alumni
Thomas Kedenburg '70 is currently with the New York State Police Department in Phoenix New York. 4/02
Gerard Ponchak '70 earned his M.S. degree in Secondary Education. He retired in July 2000 after teaching social studies for 31 years at James I. ONeill High School in Highland Falls, N.Y where he also was department chair. In Fall 2000, he started a small business waxing and detailing cars. Says enjoying this plus travel to Hawaiian Islands. Email: email@example.com 4/02
Mark Rockmore '70 writes that he has worked for Uncle Sam since 1979, first with the Defense Mapping Agency and now with its successor The National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA). "As a Geographer (now Regional Analyst)" he is working in the Geographic Names/Boundaries branch creating toponymic databases. In reply to the 2002 GeoMail #1 -it found me OK. Best wishes in your retirement, you came in when I was a senior I believe. The future looks limitless when you are 21 but something else when 50+ years pass. Still involved with Geographic Names, the US Board of Geographic Names, and am a member of the Advisory Committee on Antarctic Names [ACAN] from 1993, before that served as Secretary from 1984-92.
In Fall 2000, Mark was honored by the bestowing of his name on a mountain feature in Antarctica. Mount Rockmore is a 1730 meters high mound-shaped mountain that stands 4 miles north of Mount Aldrich in the Britannia Range. He writes, "So my geographic education has left a little something that will extend after my 'time at bat.' Please pass on my best regards to Dr. Schnell, the man who changed my academic bent. Adieu from Bethesda, MD. PS- only problem with the reunion is, there are no 15 cent drafts at the New Paltz Tavern (probably isn't there anyway) Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dennis Wittern '70 writes from Clinton NY, where he is currently a Social Welfare Examiner for the Oneida County Department of Social Services. He has been married for 30 years to a New Paltz graduate, class of '71, who is a teacher in the Utica Utica School District. They have 2 children, a daughter who just graduated Summa Cum Laude from Hamilton College with honors in Spanish, Creative Writing, and, Psychology; she also was a Senior Fellow in college. Their son is currently a freshman at Utica College. Dennis adds, I still race bicycles - road and velodrome racing mostly - but more for fun and excitement now and less for the glory that was the '60s. Email: DWittern@aol.com 9/02
Patricia Caro '71 tells us she's "slogging along at Nassau Community College", tucked into the History Department as the school's only geographer. She was on sabbatical in spring '98 carrying out research on "Spatial Interactions along the Queens-Nassau Border". She earned an M.A. from SUNY Albany and a Ph.D. from the University of Oregon. In 1995 she was awarded the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching. On a personal note, she enjoys bicycling and shell collecting in Far Rockaway. Pat has a 20 year old son who is a Columbia student and works for the New York City Campaign Finance Board. Email: email@example.com 4/01
Norma Cook '71 is a retired teacher. She received her master's in education from SUNY New Paltz in 1973. 12/97
Mike Folkoff '71 There aren't too many of us from the class of 71 so I don't expect many to relate to my experience. I am a professor of geography and geosciences at Salisbury University in Maryland. In this capacity, I teach physical geography courses and a course in GIS. The GIS course is a heck of ways from Kingman's cartography course. The cutting edge in those days was the transition from ruling pens to leroy pens with an ink reservoir. The year I took cartography, Kingman retired the pantograph in favor of an enlarging - reducing machine (very hot stuff). It was the only electronics in the lab besides the newly discovered progressive rock station on a mono FM radio that accompanied our drafting of maps."
In those days, NPS had a traditional called senior day. The seniors selected a secret day. On that day, they "kidnapped" their favorite faculty during class and took them to a nearby park where kegs of beer, fast food, and several bands were ready and waiting. Later the rest of the school followed and we were encouraged to partake in total debauchery. Please remember that in the 70's NY drinking age was the lowest in the nation at 18 years so all students were welcome. Can you imagine?
Mike wrote in early Fall 2002 that he had become Chair of the Geography Department at Salisbury University and facilitated the move of the department to its new facility in the 145,000 sq ft Science Hall, which he describes as "fabulous": "We have the majority of a whole wing of the building on the first floor. Two brand new teaching labs, fully wired, for our physical geography courses. Across the hall from our office, we have the school map library and two smaller research labs, which are not small. A 48 seat lecture hall that we have first priority is in our area. We also have a 48 seat computer lab dedicated to mapping science and run only by the geography dept. The labs are all equipped with new high end computers in specially adapted computer tables. All the "smart audio visual" instructional equipment is up and running, finally. Our podiums can be adjusted to suit the height of the instructor to facilitate teaching. The lab can be divided into two 24 seat rooms so we can teach GIS classes concurrently or , as usually will be the case, keep ½ available for just open use. And we still are an undergraduate dept only. We stand pat on that ideal. At least I do. The cost of this extravagance is that we have over 100 computers plugged into our very own server over our XP network. Our new server is ordered and we gave away our 36" plotter because our 48" plotter is sufficent. In short we are sort of own computer services. But, you can imagine the amount of work involved, especially in a new start up. New wall maps, old wall maps, map racks, acid cabinets, telephones, keys, keys, keys. are my everyday worries." Quite a setup!!! Email: MEFOLKOFF@salisbury.edu 9/02
Eric Hessney '71 is a vinyardist in Dresden, NY. 4/02
Steve Hilsenbeck '71 Local newspapers reported that Steve passed away on October 1 at the age of 53. Steve was a systems analyst for Ulster County Information Services in Kingston and the former Director of the Computer Department at Ulster County Community College. At the time of his death, he was serving as a Marbletown town councilman and was a member of the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake. 12/97
Michael Janoska '71 is a Land and City Surveyor Party Chief and resides in Oakdale, New York. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org 5/02
Robert Van Ackooy '72 teaches 3rd grade at the Ralph R. Smith School in Hyde Park. Some alums have reported that "Mr. Van Ackooy was a favorite teacher" of their children! Bob writes that he has coached Girls' Little League Softball for 20 years, travelled to Antwerp, Belgium in 1981 as a coach with a Hyde Park Girls' Senior League Softball team, and is now a member of the Dutchess County Slow-Pitch Softball Hall of Fame. 2/98
Rich Castagna '73 writes that "I fondly remember the experience of flying with Professor Kingman and taking "aerial photos" of onion fields with my instamatic camera, working for the Geography Department in the map library, and receiving the Geography Scholarship Award in 1972." He's married with 2 children ages 13 and 16, and says he likes to spend his free time writing my bike along the Delaware River, gardening, and watching his children swim competitively. After graduation was awarded a teaching assistantship from Eastern Michigan University from which he graduated with a Master's degree in 1975. Since 1977, he has been employed by the Department of Environmental Protection in New Jersey, working initially for the Office of Environmental Analysis where he was involved in the mapping of tidelands(lands now or formerly flooded at mean high water). The mapping involved the interpretation of aerial photography from 1930 to the present and the analysis of U.S. Coast & Geodetic Surveys from the early 19th century. In 1987 he transferred to the Bureau of Tidelands Management in 1987 were his primary responsibility is to assess the strength and validity of tidelands claims using maps and aerial photography. In addition, he is a regional supervisor, GIS coordinator, and oversees the map and air photo library. In 1995 he was asked by the Attorney General of New Jersey to write a report and testify as an expert in map and air photo interpretation in the Ellis Island lawsuit with New York." Rich says, "What an opportunity for a geographer! I testified in the United States Supreme Court building over a four day period in the first trial ever held there. I described changes to Ellis Island from the 1760's to the 1940's and identified the 'original Island' to the Supreme Court. In his final report, Paul Verkuil, the specialmaster appointed by the high court, decided to rely on the 1857 map, which I testified as being the most accurate map for delineating the boundary on Ellis Island. During direct and cross-examination I discussed the geography courses which I took at New Paltz. To prepare, I reread "All Possible Worlds" which as you might remember was my historical geography textbook. Without my education from New Paltz I probably would not have qualified as an expert!"6/98 Rich came back to New Paltz to New Paltz in November 1998 to talk in the GIS Lecture Series on "The Ellis Island Controversy: A Geographer's Search for Truths in Maps and Mud." Since then he has been very busy presenting talks and publishing on the topic. This past year he made presentations at the URISA Conference in New Brunswick, New Jersey (Rutgers) in March and at the ESRI International Conference in San Diego in July. In addition, he co-authored the paper with two of his co-workers on the role of GIS in the Ellis Island lawsuit. The paper was published in the July/August issue of Professional Surveyor. McGraw Hill is going to reprint the article in Annual Editions: Geography 00/01, Fifteen Edition, in January 2000. The article is similiar to one appearing in the NJDEP GIS Newsletter. All of this effort culiminated in a beautiful yet technical technical article published in the November 1999 issue of ESRI ARC USER magazine. (11/99) Rich has worked as a Geographer with the New Jersey DEP for 23 years, and continues to assist the New Jersey Attorney Generals Office in investigating artificial filling of tidelands with maps and aerial photography. His son Brian is headed to Bentley College in Waltham, Mass this fall, planning to major in Business Information Systems and swim on their team. His daughter Carolyn is now 15 and going into tenth grade. Her biggest accomplishment besides getting straight A's is swimming her way to the State championship meet at Penn State in March. Congratulations!
In 2002, he writes, I can't believe that it's been almost 30 years since graduation from New Paltz. This May is my 25th anniversary working for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. I continue to stay current with GIS. I just completed a course on ArcGIS sponsored by Rutgers. I hope to take another course this Spring involving digital imagery and GIS. New Jersey just completed a 2002 overflight. I currently use digital imagery from 1991, 1995, 1998, and soon 2002. We hope to have a cooperative project with Princeton scanning 1932 aerial photos of a portion of New Jersey. I continue to study changes in the coastline using old maps and aerial photography. I'm currently conducting research of shoreline changes on several different waterfront communities in New Jersey. To stay in shape I've taking up running and continue to bike ride. I also enjoy home improvement projects and am now working on an extension of our deck. Best wishes --send me information on the upcoming alumni reunion. Email: Richard.Castagna@dep.state.nj.us 4/02
Stanley Tucker '73 works for the New York City Transit Authority. 4/02
Rosalie Morelli Hallas '74 is now retired and living at Eagle Lake in Northeast California where she keeps busy in community and church activities as well as the American Legion. Email: email@example.com 4/02
Edward Rensin '74 was a teacher in the Yonkers Public School system since 1969, teaching elementary school music at School 15. While on leave in 1977-78, he served as the Interpretive Programs Director for Washington's Headquarters State Historic Site in Newburgh. He has had photos exhibited there as well as has published in various travel magazines. He has composed a number of songs with a multi-cultural theme for use in the elementary school classroom and expects to have the songs published. He has traveled to many off-the-beaten-path type destinations, including Alaska and the Yukon where he has enjoyed dog-sledding. In 2002, he writes writes: nothing earth-shattering to report. I retired from teaching music in Yonkers in August 2000, but went right back to full-time teaching in Stamford, CT. It looks like I'll be there for the foreseeable future teaching elementary music. I take "armchair" vacations every now and then, but have not really been able to travel around the way I would like to -- too much work and responsibility. My next trips will probably be to the colonial cities in Mexico (Guanajuato, Querétaro, Zacatecas, etc), and then maybe to Senegal, Gambia, and Cabo Verde, but they will have to wait until next year at the earliest. When is the October reunion? I'd love to come, although I probably don't know too many people (and vice-versa), since I only attended part-time in the evenings. Email: ERensin123@aol.com 3/02
Bob Saunders '74, when he first wrote in 1997, was a travel writer for the Automobile Club of Southern California with responsibility for annual revisions of maps, newsletters, and books. He also maintained databases for all park and recreation districts in Southern California. 2/97 In Spring 2002, he wrote I don't know if you remember me. Anyway, I always wanted to tell you what a great teacher you were. Your lectures on China were interesting and you made it come alive. Funny at this advanced age I'd remember that. I used to look forward to your class. I did mail some maps to the Geography Dept from my work as a consultant and now full-time employee of LAMTA (Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority), and I also do consulting work for Metrolink-regional commuter rail. The maps I sent show some of the change I've "guided" them into. You shouldn't have "Marketing" people in charge of maps! We remember you, Bob! 4/02 Bob sent a copy of the most recent LAMTA system map, adding: "The actual cartography with the computer is done by an outside person, but I do all the research and mark up the maps and am responsible for a good deal of the content." Click here to see the 2002 map, as well as the 2004 maps. Email: Mookie86@earthlink.net 7/04
Cathleen Watt '74 is a paralegal with a CLA degree (2000) who specializes in Eminent Domain and Land Use law. She and her daughter, Emily, age 12, enjoy hiking, kayaking, canoeing waterways, and travel. Email: CWatt@BSBPropertyLaw.com 4/02
Richard Fant '75 writes "I remained in the Mid-Hudson valley after graduation and became employed by ITT Corporation where I remained for the next 20 years. With ITT I lived in New York City, Boston and St. Louis, where I met my wife. My son was born while living in Miami and my daughter in Philadelphia. In that respect I became intimate with "Physical Geography" even though my career was finance and accounting. I am still the best map reader I know. I have since left the corporate world and are living in Melbourne Florida, near the space center. As a Director for a non-profit affordable housing developer I am always meeting Geographers at the local, state and federal level. With envy I might add. As I begin to prepare my children for life in the Florida University system, I know they will never experience college life in the Mid-Hudson Valley, in a small town named New Paltz, nestled among the Shongum Mountain Range. My best memories are Cartography, internship at the American Geographic Society and getting to know all the professors in the Geography Department. And oh Yeah, long live P & G's, the breakfast, lunch and dinner of champions." 7/98 In 2002, he added that he is Director Finance, Business Operations. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org 4/02
Steve Finkle '75 says, "say it ain't so"...the title for 'Lost Geography Majors.' Lost in the sense that there is no hope for them?" Said in jest, of course. Has a daughter Natalie, 5 and wife, Maria who counsels families for UARC. Steve is working on developing a 107 acre business park, in addition to working on refurbishing Kingston's original City Hall, administering the EDZ (Economic Development Zone) as well as "other stuff". 12/97 According to a May 1, 1999 newspaper report, Steve continues as the City of Kingston's Economic and Community Development Director. (5/99) A recent update tells says: "I have been managing the recently completed restoration of Kingston's Old City Hall originally built in 1872, rebuilt after fire in 1929 and abandoned in 1972. The building was totally restored at a cost of $6.5 million. We applied for and received some $2.5 million in federal and state grants. We also won an award from the Preservation League of NY (along with Grand Central Station and others). The next projects include conversion of the former City Hall for use by police and court functions; preparation of a waterfront redevelopment implementation plan; development of a boutique hotel/conference center/retail/gallery project on the waterfront and the development of the next site in the Kingston Business Park. We are also involved with housing rehab, infrastructure replacement and "main street" revitalization. Check out one of our web pages at http://www.kingstonedz.com My family is fine, my daughter Natalie is now seven and Maria is working with families who have children with disabilities for U-G ARC. Hope all is well with you and yours, as well as George, Jo etc. 6/00 After receiving a copy of an old paper of his written in 1974, Steve wrote the following: "It is hard to believe that we endured without computers, cartography software and the internet. I constantly rely on what I learned at New Paltz to support my efforts in planning and development. You made a lasting impression on me and helped me to see things from different perspectives- a skill that I have relied on in performing my various jobs (along with a thick skin and a sense of humor). Update 2003: "Our Waterfront Revitalization Implementation Plan won an award from the New York State Chapter of theAmerican Planning Association and will be getting the award 10/23/03. Kingston also has worked on the development of a waterfront hotel for four years, and I am happy to say that as of last week, the final governmental approval for funding for the 50 room Noah Hotel was approved. The project is a $10MM project with 117 FTE's and is located on Abeel Street overlookihg Island Dock." Email: SMFNOW@aol.com 9/03
William (Bill) Marlowe '75, a Navy Captain, lives in Alexandria, Virginia, where he has just completed a year in residence at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, earning a Masters of Science in National Resource Strategy, with a concentration in Information Strategy. Bill also just completed Federal Certification as a Chief Information Officer. Since graduating from SUNY New Paltz, Bill earned two other graduate degrees: MA, National Security and Strategic Studies (Naval War College, 1991) and and an MS in Management (Salve Regina College, 1987). Email: email@example.com 7/03
Mike Moran '75, a licensed land surveyor and former Town of Gardiner Supervisor, now works for Leica Geosystems, Inc. He arranged for a "Basic GPS Surveyors" course to be taught on campus in September 1999 and June 2000 in the department's GIS/Computer Cartography Lab. Through Mike's efforts three monuments were placed on campus at surveyor-grade precision as latitude/longitude reference marks for future GIS/GPS teaching purposes. In addition, Mike has been playing an important role in the establishment of a NOAA CORS base station on campus. The NYNP CORS base station became functional in the summer of 2004. Geography faculty and students are grateful for Mike's on-going efforts to make this a reality. Visit the National Geodetic Survey website for a much information about the SUNY New Paltz facility, including coordinates, photographs and useful GPS data series http://www.ngs.noaa.gov/cgi-cors/corsage.prl?site=nynp. For more information about GPS as a modern geographer's tool, written by Mike, visit http://www.newpaltz.edu/geography/alumni/GPSAModernGeographersTool.htm 10/04
Steve Ruelke '75 was elected to the New Paltz Town Board in November 1999. He is an outstanding "community leader, problem solver, and advocate," according to a news report. (11/99)More recently, The Times Herald Record reports "Ruelke Gets Ready to Join the Ministry," stating "Steve Ruelke's resume is long on public service. Now the fast-talking town councilman is exploring a new and unexpected service path. ... Ruelke has been a major figure on the local public landscape for the past 20 years: He's a former journalist, former village clerk-treasurer, former school board president and current town councilman. He's a smart man who's got a fast, smart mouth that some find a saving grace and some others find about as welcome as a fingernail across a blackboard. And now he's decided to become a Methodist minister. 'It would be easier for me to walk down Main Street naked than talk about one's connection with God,' he said last week at his home office, where he makes his living as a real-estate appraiser. 'I've got more than my share of foibles. People are bound to say "What, that schmuck?" But that ought to come as good news--cause if God is willing to take me on, it ought to be a cakewalk for anyone else.'" Go for it, Steve! 4/01
Joanne Lyons '76 retired from teaching in June 2001 after 24 years. 4/02
Jo Margaret Mano '76, Associate Professor in Geography at SUNY New Paltz, invites all geography graduates to her "Perennial End-of Semester Party." It is held in early December and mid-May. She's had wonderful reunions lately. She invites you to call her to find out when the party is scheduled at the end of each semester. "Viva Geographia!," she proclaims! (5/98) Jo served as Geographer-in-Residence for the New York Geographic Alliance's Institute at SUNY New Paltz in 1996 and 1998 and again in 2001. In January 2000 she was appointed Co-coordinator of the New York Geographic Alliance by the National Geographic Society. Visit her homepage for an update on her professional achievements! And see her new Web-based publication Annotated Bibliography of Selected New York State Maps: 1793-1900 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org 4/01
Reid Wissner '76 is an attorney in New York City. 12/97
Christopher Doum '77 received an MA in Geography from the University of Washington in 1980 and is now an analyst with the National Imagery and Mapping Agency. The new US National Imagery and Mapping Agency was formed in 1996 from the merging of the National Photographic Interpretation Center and the Defense Mapping Agency. Chris works on Middle Eastern issues. He writes that his son Matthew, now 13 years old, won his schools Geography Bee for the second year in a row and will go shortly to the finals in Richmond, VA. Matthew, Chris says, is "his pride and joy!" 2/98
Peter Dubitsky 77 received an MS in Acupuncture in 1999 and is an acupuncturist at Acupuncture Health Care in New Paltz. UPDATE from Peter10/04: "I actually began my acupuncture career in 1991 when I received a certificate and diplomate status upon graduation. NYS began licensing acupuncturists in 1992 and colleges of acupuncture in 1995, when graduates then received "real"education department diplomas. In January 2004 I became the Director of Clinical Training at the TriState College of Acupuncture (TSCA) in NYC. My administrative position only requires one day per week of on site work, allowing me the luxury of the beautifullife in Ulster County, and the ability to continue to work in our office in New Paltz. My boys are now 6 and 2 1/2 (first grade and preschool) and my wife Callie has returned to work part-time as an acupuncturist in our office." Email: email@example.com 10/04
Steve Gibbs '77, after a long period of quiet, writes "Well, as very FEW of you may remember or have heard, on October 13, 1978 on my way home to High Falls after working breakfast as a waiter at Mohonk, I had a car accident and became paralyzed (C6/7 quadriplegic, leaving me with use of arms but no finger movement).
I barely survived the accident and spent 4 months in Albany Medical Center recovering from the injuries. I then was transferred to NYC to the Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine at NYU, where I spent 6 months in 'rehabilitation,' A.K.A. 'quad school.' During the course of my 10 months in the hospital, I realized that my BA in Geography from SUCNP wouldn't pay anywhere near the kind of $ it takes to live independently as a disabled person in America.
So on August 10,1980, I packed my new van which had been modified to drive from a wheelchair, and moved to sunny, dry, low humidity, warm Santa Clara, California. I went to law school at Santa Clara University School of Law (I chose SCU by utilizing my knowledge of climate, Mediterranean, (a chance to use that Geography degree!) so as to be comfortable. I had quickly realized that snow and wheelchairs don't mix too well.) All around me has grown 'Silicon Valley,' and the 'Urban Planner' (there wasn't any, it was all political and $ making decisions) should be shot. Its now the LA Jr. that I worried it might become.
Anyway...I graduated cum laude in 3 years (JD 1983) . I was an Articles Editor of the Law Review and had 2 articles published in the Santa Clara Law Review. I also was the Dean's research assistant. After graduating and passing the bar exam on the first try, I found myself struggling to stay afloat financially in sole practice after law school because nobody wanted to hire a cripple no matter what your credentials. Despite the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990 (ADA), things haven't changed all that much from my perspective. Having gone from being a 'normal,' able bodied white guy to the virtual bottom of the totem pole as a disabled person in America has been bizarre. Its unusual to change INTO being a member of a Minority group part way through life. It gives me a unique perspective. Discrimination is rampant and very frustrating. Altitudes have changed a bit since I was first hurt in 1978, but not nearly enough.
Anyway, I've been in sole practice, mostly part-time, from a home office for 18 years now. I don't earn "attorney" salary, but suffer from the misconception that I must be rich, since everyone knows all attorneys are. I don't get a penny from the government, but everyone assumes I do. For the privilege of working, I pay $400 per month in medical premiums, with a $2000 deductible and a 25 co-payment. Its close to my mortgage payment, even in real estate insane California. But hope springs eternal. About a year ago I took an exam, 3 hours written and then 2 hours oral, for a position as an Administrative Law Judge with the California Unemployment Board of Appeals. Although I ended up with the top score and am #1 on the list for Santa Clara County, (population 1.5 million) as the usual way my life has gone (good news & bad news), since unemployment in this county is 1.3%!!! so of course they've had no openings and I'll have to hope someone retires before the scores expire in 18 months. If it ever happens, it is a great 9-5, low stress job that pays 2x more than I've ever earned, WITH FULL BENEFITS! Wish me luck.
I miss the Hudson Valley and Catskills very much. California is VERY different, some times better, some times worse. My health has finally started going south (17 hours of neurosurgery last March 2000) but I guess I've managed to do pretty well in light of my circumstances. I finally took my wife back East 4 years ago and managed to show her around New Paltz, the Hudson Valley and the Catskills. We then spent 3 days float fishing the Delaware for trout and had a wonderful time. It was the first week of October and the leaves were just starting to turn. It was great to be back, if only to pass through.
What a long, strange trip this has been."
UPDATE from Steve 12/01: "On November 22, 2001, I was appointed by Gov. Davis to a position as an Administrative Law Judge with the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board.
My job is to hear appeals regarding unemployment compensation and state disability claims. The cases I hear are mostly by persons appearing "In Pro Per," i.e., representing themselves. This means I deal as directly with the public as a judge can. The hearings usually take less than an hour and are very informal. After 18 years of self employment/sole practice, where I set my own hours and schedule, its quite a change to go into a structured setting. (And to have to wear a suit every day, ugh!).
Also, the 23 years of paralysis have taken a toll on my body and after my last trial in 1999, I realized I couldn't do that anymore and had to find something less demanding. Ironically, I'm working many more totalhours than before, but I don't have to worry about trying a case ever again, which is extremely stressful and fatiguing.
Lastly, for anyone who may remember me, being "Judge Gibbs," is a rather surreal experience. Never in a million years...
The Observer Vol. XXIII, No. 1 08/05
Gail Ossman Messina '77 writes that "All is well in Marlboro and that she moved there about 10 years ago from Poughkeepsie - had to get back on the "right" side of the river! Husband is retired from the NYS Department of Transportation and I've retired as a music therapist from St. Francis Hospital's early intervention preschool program. Have continued doing music with senior citizens and adults in assisted living facilities - am loving that still. Also I've been able to use my music skills for volunteer work at church. Have nieces and nephews having babies - it's hard to keep up. I love to babysit!!! We were traveling quite a bit until 9/11 and that kind of took the thrill out of it for me - so we've been staying close to the area -upstate/CT/RI/MAss/NJ." 9/03
Robert Mickel '77 writes that he has "achieved the American Dream!!! 1 good wife, 2 kids, 2 dogs, 2.5 cars, and 1 big house beyond my budget. Because of my (social, economic & physical) geography background I know exactly why I am where I am. I say this only slightly tongue-in-cheek. The discipline of analyzing spatial relationships is the foundation on which I have built my career. Almost every aspect of programming, systems, & processes has a three dimensional characteristic and that the sense of space developed in my undergraduate geography experience has been a major factor in my success. I miss cutting out of Miss Kingman's cartography lab on sunny fall afternoon's to hit P&G's for a bowl of chili and pitcher of beer. I miss the glory of New Paltz sunsets. And even though I was never an academic wonder I miss the geography classes and all the faculty. I hope all is well with all." 2/98 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Harry Pavulaan '77 reports: (see 2002 update below) "I'm married now, since 1988. I have two daughters, one 11 and one 6. My government career as a cartographer is still on track, with over 17 years in service. I worked for Defense Mapping Agency for several years (1981-88) and transferred several times between the Washington, D.C., St. Louis, MO., and Providence, R.I. offices, before transferring to NOAA's Aeronautical Charting Division here in Washington D.C. My title is "cartographer", but I am more accurately an aeronautical data research specialist, verifying data on tall, manmade structures, and constructing data files for the FAA's Minimum Safe Altitude Warning System. Data is entered and maintained in a digital database which is used in the compilation of aeronautical charts and products. The work is unglamorous, but we are the "unsung heroes" of aeronautical safety, letting pilots know where tall things are and how high they need to fly.
While government pay in the field of cartography has not been keeping up with that of the private sector, nor is the work as glamorous or challenging, there are still benefits. There are some challenges if you look for them, and opportunities for advancement if you assert yourself. And...nothing beats the good old Civil Service Retirement system, as far as providing incentive to stay. Work is generally less stressful than my private-sector counterparts, but that's not always the case.
In my private life, I'm an avocational entomologist. Butterflies have always been my passion. I'm a coauthor of the USGS' "Butterflies of North America" website, volunteering my free time to research data that is used to keep the butterfly atlas up-to-date. I am conducting a considerable amount of entomological research, that the president of the Washington Area Butterfly Club described in a newspaper article highlighting my work as "PHD-level" (maybe I SHOULD go for the biology degree!) I have authored and coauthored several technical scientific papers in entomological journals, have described two new "subspecies" of eastern butterflies, and have discovered two totally new species of butterflies in the northeastern U.S. with an associate. One of these, the "Holly Azure" was described in 1999, and a second one, the "Cherry Gall Azure" will be escribed in 2000. 1/00
Here is a Fall 2002 update from Harry: "I now work for the Federal Aviation Administration. Last time I wrote, I worked for NOAA's Aeronautical Charting Division in Silver Spring, MD. I still work in the same office, but we were transferred to the FAA and renamed the National Aeronautical Charting Office, under Al Gore's government reorganization. I'm finally promoted to "Lead Cartographer" which means I work with the supervisor to manage the office.
Outside of work, I discovered a second new species of butterfly: the Appalachian Tiger Swallowtail - Pterourus appalachiensis. The paper was published (coauthored) in the Taxonomic Report, and the front page of the paper, as well the paper dealing with my other (coauthored) new butterfly species (Holly Azure - Celastrina idella) is viewable at: http://www.tils-ttr.org TILS is an internet-based nonprofit entomological organization dealing with lepidoptera research. I am a cofounder, board member and reviewer. We publish the Taxonomic Report (a technical journal) and are in our third volume of research papers which include contributing authors such as Kurt Johnson (author of 'Nabokov's Blues') who is a world-reknowned expert on butterflies. Advice for Geography majors from Harry: "By the way, the FAA occasionally hires cartographers here in Silver Spring, MD. Paul Spadaro works here too. He graduated in 72 or 73, I believe. Have seniors check out: http://jobs.faa.gov/ This is a job search page. Users can type in "cartographer" without indicating region, to pull up any openings. There are openings every few months. To speed up the search, users should indicate "Maryland" in their search, since we are generally where all FAA cartographers start." 9/02
John Pearce '77 writes from sunny Florida. He is married with four children, two girls and two boys. After 10 years as a Cartographer for the Defense Department (DoD), he "evolved" into Systems Development. After completion of a Masters in MIS and Computer Systems Applications (Systems Engineering), he changed positions to a Physical Scientist at the DoD. In 1985, he and his wife Meredith moved back to Florida and started raising a family. John now works for Harris Corporation, a Fortune 200 company involved in communications technology. 1/98
Michael Schuit '77, Deputy Attorney General, New Jersey Division of Law, was awarded the New Jersey Division of Law Volunteerism Recognition Award for helping to establish the West Windsor Friends of Open Space, a non profit corporation. In 1997, he reported that he was the first Vice President of the group and on its Board of Directors. In 1997, he received the New Jersey DEP "Environmental Excellence Award" for preserving open space. He writes: "A day doesn't go by that I don't think about New Paltz (and the summer of '75 when I lived with Mrs. Kingman at Pierson Place). I'm proud to have graduated from New Paltz and I'm especially proud of my geography degree." Mike adds that he continues as the President of Friends of West Windsor Open Space, which has helped to preserve almost 1,500 acres in West Windsor Township, NJ. Email: email@example.com 4/02
Daniel Seidel '77 received a J.D. degree from Pace University School of Law in 1981 and is now an attorney specializing in personal injury litigation. Dan writes: "Still in White Plains, still being a lawyer. Still wish I was doing cartography or meteorology. One day...." He continues "I used to represent inmates in lawsuits against the correctional facilities for violations of constitutional rights by guards and administration staff. Now I represent the guards in a discrimination suit against their employers. Strange bedfellows. My son is 15 and is into mountain climbing and plays cello in the Westchester Junior Orchester. My daughter 11 plays dynamite defense/stopper in soccer (I am the coach) and is also artsy. My wife makes the web page for the White Plains School District. I am domesticated but I am known as the "radical" in the school district (we don't sign codes of conduct). See ya!." Update 2003: "Am in vocal opposition to Manhattanization and Star Bucking of small suburban White Plains and take over of the town by developer Lou Capelli. White Plains seems to be a small urban experiment that is getting out of control. Lots of space being put up, no takers, watch the reassessment of the tax rates ion five years, the developer walks with tax shelters and abatements and the home owner gets stuck. A thesis for Economic Geography is in order!! None of our local politicos appear to be geographers. White Plains should probably have an official geographer. here's another :their DEIS is real slick but no substance, no one with real understanding to rip it apart .... Better things: Son Jon goes to Syracuse University, Arts and Science. Daughter Molly is a freshman in high school. Wife Susan has the job that keeps us afloat. What a wonderful thing - women's rights!!! .... Don't forget to join your local "Save The Bill of Rights Campaign". Our Constitution is ailing and needs our help. Thats' the other crisis of the moment." Email: SEIDELDAN@AOL.COM 9/03
Tim Walsh '77 received his N-6 certification in Geography and K-12 in Social Studies, and earned an M.Ed graduate degree in Reading from the University of Washington in 1987. After somewhat of an itinerant life, he resides in Seattle, Washington where he has a full- time tenured position teaching college preparatory reading and writing courses as well as Environmental Science. He expects to teach an introductory geography course soon. On the personal side he is married with two children, a five-year old daughter and a three-year old son, and moved in June into his new home. 12/97
Christine Williams '77 is Associate Director, Information Technology with The Barclays Group in New York City. Email:
Spencer Ainsley '78 Does anyone know whether "Spencer Ainsley, the photographer at the Poughkeepsie Journal" is the Spencer Ainsley who graduated from SUNY New Paltz in 1978? 12/97
Craig Benedict '78 received an MA Geography with emphasis on urban and regional planning from Florida Atlantic University. He was formerly Development Services Director for the City of Coconut Creek, Florida, a community in the Greater Fort Lauderdale area, where he supervised comprehensive planning, zoning, land development and preservation, engineering, capital improvements, and building inspections. With some 20 years experience in community planning and engineering and certification from the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP), he was appointed Orange County Planning Director in 1999 Press release: http://www.co.orange.nc.us/OCCLERKS/jan99prsrls.htm#plandir Interestingly, this "Orange County" is in North Carolina but in 1978 Craig did his Geography Internship in Orange County in New York back in 1978! 9/02
Linda Buatti Silverman '78 received an MA from Syracuse University in 1984 and is now an Operating Room nurse at Holy Spirit Hospital in Pennsylvania. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org 4/02
Michael Levine '78 was among the "geographic missing" but he reported in 1998 from Seattle to tell us that he found the department's web site with him shown as a "Lost Major." Michael works for the US government's General Service Administration (GSA), the agency charged with managing federal owned property and leased locations. He works as a technical advisor and manages environmental programs so that they comply with NEPA/EPA regulations. His other responsibilities include OSHA issues and he sits on a nationwide advisory committee to write GSA environmental policies and procedures so that they comply with various federal environmental laws. He says, "it's sort of like I've come full circle and now handling the issues I studied in college! He writes recently "I guess the past 6 months has changed a lot of things since 9/11. I was in NYC at the time and was within 30 minutes of being inside the WTC. I was late and never made it. My hobbies are skiing and softball. I also keep busy riding my motorcycle and miata, and explore new areas around the Pacific Northwest.
UPDATE from Michael 10/04: "I'm still with the Federal government - General Services Administration and handling the NEPA program. It's nice to see projects that I was involved with the site selection and NEPA process to be constructed. It's still interesting work. ... Had a wonderful summer with traveling up to Canada a few times and down to Crater Lake in Oregon. Email: email@example.com 10/04
Jennifer Stovall Brylinski '78 lives in New Jersey and works in New York State where she is Executive Director for the County of Sullivan Industrial Development Agency. She wrote in 1997 that she wa having a second childhood with her seven-year old son. She is a cancer survivor, and loves life, family, and work. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org 4/02
Dolores Wehrfritz '78 A recent Times Herald Record had a news story of an investigation of an oil spill in Monticello with a picture and story of DEC environmental engineer Dolores Wehrfritz. Does anyone know if this is the Dolores who graduated in geography in 1978?
Russell Robbins '79 earned an AAS in Natural Resources Conservation from Dutchess Community College in 1976, and after graduating from New Paltz in 1979 went on to earn a Masters in Urban Planning from Hunter College in 1982. He writes that he has been the Senior Transportation Analyst for the New York State Department of Transportation--Region 8 since 1984, working in Poughkeepsie. At NY State DOT, he also serves as the Regional Plan Project Manager for "21st Century Mobility" the comprehensive multi-modal transportation plan for the Hudson Valley. He has developed a long range 20 year regional plan through a multi-agency technical committee. In addition, he has authored major portions of plan and refined multi-agency inputs as well as oversaw all levels of public participation, media and publishing aspects of planning effort." He is currently Project Manager for Scenic Byway Corridor Management Plans for Palisades and Taconic Parkways, Palisades Trailway, Ulster County Comprehensive Transportation Plan and Maybrook Multimodal Corridor Study. 1/01 Russell gave a talk on campus in the Department's GIS Lecture series concerning "Transportation and Your Community" on March 28, 2001. 4/01 He writes in 2002, My lovely wife Patricia (SUNY New Paltz Grad 1979) and I are the proud parents of Roxanne Robbins who is ten years old and is on the New Paltz Hawks swim team. We live in the lovely Shawangunks, close to Minnewaska and Mohonk. Email: RROBBINS@gw.dot.state.ny.us 3/02
Mike Sasso '79 Minor graduated with an Asian Studies major and then received an MBA at Northeastern in 1982. He relocated permanently to the Boston area in 1979 and is currently vice-president for export sales for an international trading company specializing in pulp and paper products. 3/98