Hudson Valley commemorates deceased community members

Tyler McNeil, Staff Writer

The campus community commemorated deceased faculty, staff and students on Tuesday, Apr. 14 in the BTC auditorium. With Cylon George hosting the 45 minute discussion, those in attendance shared memories of the individuals who were remembered.

George started off the memorial service with prayer. Sarah Retersdorf, advising specialist, then read aloud the names of deceased students, faculty and staff, which included, “deceased alumni, retirees and friends of the college.”

After George recited Psalm 23, Assistant Professor Loretta Blitstein gave a reading of the “Mourners Kaddish Prayer” to the audience. Following this, Student Senate President Jesse Tilley recited “We Remember Them.”

Nicole Carknard, psychology major, continued the service by singing, “You Raise Me Up,” accompanied by pianist and CIS major Nicholas Manzella.

A total of 24 names remembering the deceased were announced by George, including 10 students and 14 faculty and staff members. Friends, family and co-workers were invited to share their memories of the deceased after.

Scott Healey, attorney, spoke on behalf of campus attorney, Steve Wiley, who passed away unexpectedly on July 19 of last year.

“[Wiley] was not only my mentor,” said Healey. “I had the greatest amount of respect for the man as an attorney, as a friend and as a man who adored his family. I think about him every single day.”

Healey worked as an associate for Wiley for 12 years.

Amy DeCotis, mother of Daniel DeCotis, a Hudson Valley graduate with a degree in  Automotive Technology, spoke on behalf of her son who passed away Dec. 30 of last year.

“[Daniel] was a loving son, grandson, brother and uncle,” said DeCotis.

DeCotis said, “Although his time here was very short, he accomplished more than I could ever imagine.”

Daniel graduated Hudson Valley last May and was working working for Albany Artisans, Inc. around the time of his death.

“He worked hard and enjoyed all the simple pleasures of life,” said DeCotis.

“He was more of a mentor than a teacher,” said John Casey, who attended to commemorate his father Joe Casey, a Hudson Valley pioneer who passed away on July 13 of last year.

Casey’s accomplishments at Hudson Valley include being the first president of the alumni association, the first graduate to serve on the Board of Trustees and winning four service awards for construction projects across campus, including the establishment of the student center.

Casey left Hudson Valley as an Associate Professor in 1995.

“He had a lot of talents that he shared with us,” said John Casey. “A lot of students ended up doing well [because of Joe Casey].”

“[Thomas] did so well here and he loved this school,” said Lisa Malizia, mother of Thomas Jansen, a Hudson Valley matriculated Automotive Technology major who passed away on Jul. 2 of last year.

“He loved life so much. He would always say, ‘Go big or go home mom’,” said Malizia. “Now, he’s finally home.”

“When I look over this list of individuals, nearly half of them I’ve had the pleasure of sharing my 30 years [working at Hudson Valley] with,” said Lucille Marion, vice president and executive director of the Educational Opportunity Center.

“We need to understand how important it is to share what life gives us with those around us,” said Marion.

Jim Sharp served the EOC as vice president from 1970 to 1995.

“It was a pleasure working with him when he was on the campus and in the Educational Opportunity Center,” said Marion.

“She teached me and she would teach you,” said Alberto Marriaga Sr., husband of Alejandra Marriaga Cabrera. Born in Mexico City, Cabrera immigrated to the United States with her husband in 1993.

She took night classes at Hudson Valley and was an administrative assistant for CSEA before her passing on Mar. 1, 2014 due to brain complications.

“She was my best friend and a returning student that unfortunately did not return this semester,” said Nicole Petersen, a friend of Cassandra Swartout who passed away on Dec. 29, a day before DeCotis died.

“[Swartout] was a happy person and a more loving person than you’d find anywhere else,” said Petersen. “It’s a shame that she’s gone but she’s making a better place, even better right now.”

Alexander Popovics, vice president for enrollment management and student development, took the podium to read, “My Hereafter” by Juanita DeLong. After the reading, Matonak gave the final reading.

Fine arts major Hannah Infantado sang “Power of Your Love” for the final performance in the service.

Cylon George ended the service by reciting “Blessing Prayer of the Four Directions.”

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