Peter Benjamin
Bob Burns
Bill Erskine
Bill Harbour
Alex Hills
Ken Mathews
Tim Russell
Ron Simpson
Frank Thiel
Mike Wellner
Ray Whipple
Barry Wintner


The big news from all of us in the New York / New Jersey / Connecticut tri-state area was the big “Frankenstorm” named Sandy that blew in with record setting wind and high water at the end of November of last year. The devastation, no matter what you may have seen on the news, is quite simply unfathomable. As I write this at the end of December there are major office buildings in lower Manhattan that are still without power and telephone service. And there are residential waterfront neighborhoods that are gone – some houses will surely never be rebuilt. It looks like Global Warming is for real, and some clever RPI engineers and scientists are going to have to use their best talents to teach us how we are going to have to deal with it. On that note, I am pleased to say that alums in other parts of the country have very different news to report.

Barry Wintner reports that his daughter Sandra was recently married. Congratulations to Barry and his wife; it can’t be long before they will likely experience the joys of being grandparents. You can see pictures and find out all the details from Barry at

Peter Benjamin chimed in to say that he has left his position as Chair of the Board of the Washington (DC) Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. But no idle time for him; he has been re-elected, for his fourth (non-consecutive) term as Mayor of the Town of Garrett Park. Congratulations! What’s next? Governor? You can find out the likelihood of that by e-mailing Peter at

Ray Whipple wrote in to say that he has graduated from SOS (Skydivers Over Sixty) to JOS (Jumpers Over Seventy). He is (clearly) still jumping out of perfectly good airplanes; the question is why? By now you would think he’d be smarter than that. Find out from Ray at

Next, Bill Erskine, thinking of our upcoming 50th calendar – October 2014), recalls back some 52+ years ago, when we first arrived in Troy, to begin our four-year experience. Here are some of his reminiscences: “The most expensive meal at Thornie’s diner was London broil (with potatoes and vegetables) – priced at $1.10. By our junior year the cost of that meal skyrocketed to $1.60. On a Saturday, walking north on 15th street from the quad towards Dirty Dick’s, I would stop in at Greasy Ed’s for lunch. Two grilled cheese sandwiches and a milk shake would set me back seventy-five cents. If I could bum a ride with someone with a car, we could go to Latham circle and the same seventy-five cents would get me a stack of deep fried French toast at Aunt Jemima’s Pancake House. The Volcano, (who could forget the ancient hostess with the big hair and toy poodle?) was always good for pizza. (Back in the early ‘80’s I noticed that the Volcano was leaning about 30 degrees from vertical!) We had one phone and one bathroom on each floor of our dorm, and I made it a point to visit a different stall each day so I could catch up on all the graffiti before it got washed off. We smoked Camels and chanted were “IHTFP” and “Resnick & Halliday Suck” the night before every physics quiz. We were in and out of RPI long before college students smoked marijuana and chanted “SDS” and “Make love not war.” We were too early for the free love era, but did read that college students had sex 3.2 times a week and we all wondered “who was getting a 6.4?” We didn’t demonstrate or riot; instead we played hall hockey and water fights. But we did manage to fill up one dorm room with crumpled newspaper, which led to some fun when the resident decided that, rather than push the paper into the hallway it would be easier to burn it and then sweep the ashes out instead. The firemen explained the word ‘exothermic’ to him as the police took him away. Innoncence struck fast and furious freshman year at the Phalanx Dance. When I arrived to get my date downtown at Russell Sage, I was briskly whisked off to a reception room where I met several of the dorm assistants and upper class students. I was impressed and felt really important until I found out several days later that all those I met were judges for the “Beast Pool.” Evidently my date thought she had a winner. Let’s just say that my ego underwent acupuncture long before it was popular.” If you want to hear more write Bill at

And none other than our own Class of ’64 webmaster Bob Burns has decided that after years of living in the frozen north country of Alaska, it’s time (considering his advancing age) to thaw out! (I, for one, would have thought that 4 years of Troy’s winters would be enough!) Accordingly you can now find him (and Judi) living in Tallahassee, Florida, where they are renting for a year. They sold their house in June (of last year), then decided to stay in Homer (Alaska) for the summer, and then drove north to Chicken and Tok (recently reporting -50 degree temps), for a little sightseeing, before heading south to Florida. They lived in Homer from September ’07 until September ’12, 5 years in total, (but not nearly as long as Alex Hills, who at last report is still there). You can get all the details from Bob

All from Tim Russell at Bill Erskine’s memories of the ‘tute and surroundings jogged my own soggy brain cells. I remember Greasy Ed’s on 15th breakfast of two eggs, toast and coffee for 35 cents! The Volcano – first place I ever tasted Pasta Fazoul . Packing rooms with crumpled paper, yeah, and the guy who manufactured his own guncotton – his favorite trick was putting some in is his door and blowing the latch back, which made the door swing open with a ‘bang’ and puff of smoke. I also recall having a homebuilt scooter powered by a car starting motor and battery which Dick Picard and I would run up and down the halls of freshman dorm (maybe dorm ‘D’?). The rumble on the linoleum tile plus the ascending pitch of the motor strongly resembled a subway carJ And of course I remember you and I shooting a few racks in second floor pool room downtown. Hope you are doing well – all fine here. Hope, too, your 2012 was a good one. We had a memorable year: Oldest daughter Patty Russell Page is now an empty nester – youngest Leah graduated Ithaca College and is working for Brenntag Chemical in tech sales. Patty’s other kids are also grads: Kevin (Cornell ’07), Tim (RIT ’09), Nicole (Lehigh ’11). Even better, all are gainfully employed! Her younger sister Jill Russell Coffman is also on her way to empty nesting after sending Robert (youngest of 4 sons) off to U of Utah while oldest son Christopher graduated WVU and now works for PPG in Pittsburgh. In other big doings, wife Chris’ oldest, Ben, age 30, married Andrea in Las Vegas last March. After celebrating with the kids, Chris and I took advantage of being out west to visit Sedona, the Grand Canyon and Zion Natl Park. Fabulous! Take care, Tim Russell !4 Jan 2013



Ken Mathews wrote in to say that he retired from the Air Force in 1985 after 20 years as Fighter Pilot in F-105D,F,G and F-4E/G aircraft, and then retired again from IBM, in Austin, Texas in 2010 after 13 years supporting various Notes and Domino software products. He built a retirement home in Walburg, Texas, and now keeps busy playing a couple hours of racquetball several times a week. Plans include a two week train trip through the Canadian Rockies, and then a road trip to Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, and Lake Tahoe later in the summer. All in all he reports that he has much to be thankful for! Find out more by e-mailing Ken at Neil Brooks reports that he officially retired on December 31st consulting for a couple of medical device companies (neurological electro diagnostics and diabetes management tools). He is also as a volunteer starting a new program , 2012, but still does at a local community center to help therapists with patients with complex medical problems. His granddaughter is eight and we are discussing transfer finite math. She is way ahead of me. The ‘Tute in her future? Ask Neil at

Frank Thiel e-mailed me to say that after 20 years of association with Alfred Technology Resources, Inc. (ATRI), he retired as Chairman of the Board in December. ATRI has business/technology incubators in Painted Post, N. Y. (near Corning Incorporated's corporate R&D center) and Alfred, N. Y. (near Alfred University and Alfred State College). Having previously retired from Corning Inc. and then from my own consulting business, this was his third -- he likes retirement parties! His third retirement was immediately followed by a fantastic trip: UAE (Dubai, Fujairah), Oman (Muscat), India (Mumbai, Goa, Mangalore, Kochi), Maldives, Seychelles, Kenya (Mombasa), Tanzania (Zanzibar, Dar es Salaam), Madagascar (Andoany), Mozambique (Maputo), and South Africa (Richards Bay, Durban, Cape Town). Just to be sure he doesn’t get bored, Frank is still chairman of his town's Zoning Board! And he and his wife, Patricia, will be celebrating their 50th and grandchildren all gathered. Find out more from Frank at wedding anniversary this June, hopefully in Texas with the children

Our very own Bill Harbour was inducted into the Tech Valley Business Hall of Fame, back in April of this year. Bill is the founding partner and CEO of Clough, Harbour & Associates, a full service engineering firm providing a broad range of planning and design services in the fields of industrial, power supply and distribution, communications infrastructure, structural, electrical, mechanical, environmental, geotechnical, civil, aviation, rail, and traffic/transportation engineering, and landscape architecture, land use planning, surveying, wetland delineation, construction engineering and technology services. The firm has become an industry leader and expanded its reach worldwide. The Business Hall of Fame honors local champions of free enterprise for their dedication to, and success in, making the Tech Valley region a better place to live and work. Bill, now retired, was made a partner at CHA in 1971, and in 1981 became managing partner and CEO.



PLAN AHEAD! Our once-in-a-lifetime 50th 2014. I have already received e-mails from a few classmates saying that they have not been back to Troy in fifty years, but they are planning to come back to celebrate our 50th . Put the date on your calendar; we want to see everybody on campus next October!

Heard from Ron Simpson, one of the guys who has not been back to Troy since graduation, but is planning to make the trip for our 50th.  Ron has a 15 year old son who is a high school sophomore and wants to be an engineer. Troy – here he comes!  Ron and his family are living in Trabuco Canyon, California, fifty miles south of LA and eighty miles north of San Diego. Sounds pretty good to this New Yorker. Find out more by e- mailing him at Al Parker wrote to say that he and Pat recently celebrated their 50th anniversary. As a great gift, their two daughters rented them a self-drive boat on a canal in France for a week, and said that it sounded like so much fun that they'd come along, too.  Happy to say that they all had a great time.  The weather was rainy and cool, but the French food and wine were great. They spent four nights in Paris, and enjoyed it so much that they plan to do it again next yr. Check out his pictures at Or contact Al at

And, last but not least, I cannot omit the recent celebration of my second granddaughter’s Bat Mitzvah on December 1st good time was had by all.

Plus, I have some big news to share. I actually became engaged (to a wonderful Adelphi alum) earlier this year. A wedding after the first of the year is on the horizon. Stay tuned! Needless to say I am all smiles! And YES, she’ll be at our 50th forget to mark your calendars and plan to join us…. October 2-4, 2014. ! Don’t

Speaking of travels, I can tell you that my fiancée and I recently spent ten days in Prague, Bratislava, and Budapest, in what turned out to be a really interesting trip. First time I had been in Eastern Europe; tons of history. Then in June we spent two weeks driving around England (the Peak District, Bath, London suburbs, and a few days in the city itself). Despite driving on the “wrong” wide of the road, all went very well. I can attest to the fact that the English countryside is as beautiful as it’s written up to be. Had a great time!

Heard from Alex Hills (EE), who has just published a new book about the awe-inspiring work of his students.  Titled Geeks on a Mission, it tells of experiences that changed his students’ lives. They had worked hard at school (CMU), developing professional skills that are highly valued in the job market. Lucrative employment beckoned. Yet, with Alex’s encouragement, they donated their summer vacations to work in developing nations around the world, volunteering to work on projects they considered important. They acted as professional consultants, for non-governmental organizations and government ministries, performing critical work. Their clients got top-notch professional assistance, and the students benefited from experiences not available in any classroom. Everyone was a winner. And the students’ lives were changed forever. There's more information at Amazon . Or you can find out more directly from Alex at Alex is Distinguished Service Professor at Carnegie Mellon University. He has volunteered throughout his career, using his professional skills to help others.  Now he teaches and encourages a new generation of young professionals to help solve problems of poverty, health and other ills that face the world. An inventor with 13 patents, he has considerable international experience. He has lectured and consulted in: Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Ghana, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Panama, Peru, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, and South Korea. But normally he divides his time between Carnegie Mellon, the Universidad Austral de Chile, and the University of Alaska Anchorage. Alex lives in Palmer, Alaska with his wife Meg, a retired nurse practitioner.  The couple has two grown daughters, Drs. Rebecca and Karen Hills.