Rensselaer Alumni Magazine - Fall 2017 - 51
What does all this mean? For me it's a siren call
to do something important, to reach out to make
the world a better place. Please let me know what
you're thinking about all this.
G. Nagesh Rao '02, chief technologist for the U.S. Small Business Administration's Office
of Investment and Innovation, was one of 10 Eisenhower Fellows selected from across the
country in 2016. Here he is congratulated by organization president George de Lama, left,
and program chair General Colin Powell, right. As an Eisenhower Fellow, Rao traveled to Sri
Lanka and Vietnam to promote small business technology transfer and innovation research.
a wind quintet that plays around the Phoenix,
Ariz., area. -Erik Pettersen '65; erik.pettersen@
Pardon me for waxing existential, gentlemen (and
ladies), but we members of the 50 Year Club have
lived a bit and have wisdom to share. Think of this
as Carnak's make-every-day-count entreaty. I'm
speaking of why we are still here and what we are
going to do about it.
Rich Davison, our classmate who kindly drove
several of us to the dinner/dance at the Reunion
and then inadvertently dragged one of us on her
knees behind his car, is dead. This is not his obituary. I just want to mention a few things. Rich came
to RPI from Nebraska with good All-American
values. He was a most honorable and decent man.
If you spoke to Rich at our 50th Reunion, you may
recall that his soulmate wife had died recently, that
he had since been diagnosed and treated for brain
cancer and seemed to be recovering, and that he
was raising his middle-school-age granddaughter
Chloe single-handedly. He couldn't yet chew and
taste steak because of recent radiotherapy, but he
was optimistic about steak in his future.
Rich was a member of Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity. He studied engineering science, one of the
most difficult engineering programs in our day, and
went to work as a systems engineer for IBM in the
Poughkeepsie branch office. IBM was ramping up
then for the introduction of the System 360. He
rose through the ranks and retired 24 years ago as a
senior development manager.
En route to the dinner, he and my son Jameson discussed the glorious coloration of the Davison family tartan, which colors Jameson flashed from his
smartphone to Mary Bridgman Williams and me
in the back seat. The night started out splendidly.
A few months from death, Rich was full of life.
In the months following our Reunion, while I was
still becrutched and casted, I had several conversations with him. First of all, I needed to forgive him.
I could actually have been killed, you know. And
I couldn't walk at all for over 10 weeks. Trying to
remember if I'd ever made a mistake myself made
forgiveness very easy.
In early March, Rich awakened from a nap with a
torrential nosebleed. Unable to stop it, he called an
ambulance. Before he'd let them take him to the
ER, though, he made them clean up his blood, so
that that wouldn't be the first thing granddaughter
Chloe would see when she got home from school.
She was still grieving the surprising and quick
recent demise of her grandmother to cancer, after
all. The following week Rich died.
Rich Davison, reunited with wife Lee and sibs and
friends, may be viewing us as he eats a piece of
heavenly steak. Let's hope so. Or he may not be. In
any case, he left a mark.
George Aronstamm let us know that his friend
and our classmate Ron Bogdan also died in
March, one week after Rich Davison. Ron received
his B.S. in aeronautical engineering, his M.S. in
engineering science, and another M.S. in management engineering, all from Rensselaer. He lived
with wife Janet in Glastonbury, Conn., for 45 years,
all his post-educational adult life. He loved coaching his sons' Little League and soccer games, working on cars, and walking on the beach in Eastham.
Ron spent his 41-year career at Pratt & Whitney
Aircraft where he served as an FAA-designated
engineering representative for 14 years. His friends
and family cite his wisdom, strength, and tenacity.
Rich and Ron are dead and you and I are not.
Many, many of our classmates are doing more than
merely occupying square footage between bourbons and golf games. To name a few: Pete Tasker
and Eric Kluz have both been involved in tutoring
and social outreach in an inner-city part of Boston
with social unrest. Gordon Snyder works tirelessly
for RPI to recruit students with promise to become
technology leaders of the 21st century. Beverley
Dahmer Sved has dedicated years of her life after
IBM to public service in her community as mayor,
planning board chair, etc. Bill Pomeroy expanded
the catalog of available stem cells to include minority groups so that they, too, might be cured of cancer. The list goes on and on.
Paul MacNeil is honing critical-thinking skills in
the next generation of technologists. Such skills he
considers of paramount importance. He teaches
graduate students and runs the 100-percent online,
software engineering master's degree program at
Mercer University in Macon, Ga. After studying
physics at Rensselaer, Paul went west to the University of Arizona for M.S. and Ph.D. degrees, also
in physics. He worked for a while on physics and
planetary research at MIT and then moved to
industry where he was a software developer and
systems engineer for telecommunications and synthetic aperture radar. He found his niche in teaching graduate students, though, and has no plans at
all to retire. Paul is most proud of his work on the
Viking Relativity Experiment at MIT.
Compared to most of our classmates, Paul is a relative newlywed. He and Mary will celebrate their
25th anniversary before you read this column. He'd
like to hear from anyone he knew in college.
Rich Bollam and I had lunch on his recent Southern Sweep. Seriously, no one is better than Rich at
keeping up with old friends. Every spring he comes
to Florida alone to play golf and get together with
Theta Chi's and Bonnie. He also goes on a long
bike ride in FL every single day.
Finally, and I've been saving the best news for last,
Les White has agreed to contribute to future class
notes. He was one of several classmates who helped
out tremendously with class notes on the Reunion
(the one I mostly didn't see so couldn't really write
about). I'm thinking of it as team-writing, Les
and Bonnie together. He may be thinking of it as
throwing a few paragraphs over the wall to me.
Time will tell.
We call it "succession planning" when I do it
with clients as a financial planner. I am not being
morose. In fact, I am unaware of any deadly possibilities in my near medical future. Still, these are
important issues to consider. Who will seize the
gauntlet, questing for material from Bill Purdy?
So, folks, you can send your news to Bonnie or Les.
-Bonnie Hepburn '66, hepburn@moneysense.
win.net; or Les White '66, email@example.com
RensselaeR/Fall 2017 51