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Connections - My Reality

Updated on July 7, 2019
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Jack is currently a volunteer at the Westchester County Archives. Before retiring, he worked at IBM for over 28 years.

Introduction

Back in the 1980s, there was a TV show called ”Connections” hosted by James Burke. It was a very interesting concept trying to link seemingly random events to a particular historic event. Now, in my senior years, reflecting on my past, I am seeing connections every where.

- July 2019

Background

It is 2019, and I am 67 years old. I came to this country back in 1961, when I was 10 years old. In the ensuing years, I went to HS, and College and had a long career in Corp. America and got a Masters degree in Computer Science and ended my career at a non-profit organization helping the disabled. Now in my retirement, I found a new purpose. Somehow, they seem to be all connected.

Here is how...

My Connections...

1969 - 1974: CCNY

1970-1973: Varsity Fencing team

1974 - 2002: IBM/IBM Research

2002 - 2007: Westchester County Archives

2007 - 2017: Jawonio

2017 - Present: Retired, CCNY Asian Alumni board, volunteer CCNY Archives.

In the 50 years, since entering CCNY as a freshman, I have come full circle and back to my alma mater.

Some Details...

While a member of the Varsity Fencing team, we trained in a small room located in Lewisohn Stadium. This Stadium was a donation from Adolph Lewisohn, a philanthropist who valued athletics and the arts. This stadium was built in the Roman amphitheater style. Unfortunately, it was torn down back in the mid 1970s to make room for a new building, the North Academic Center (NAC). The library and CCNY Archives is situated in this building.

In recently years, I have rediscovered the memoir of Adolph Lewisohn. I have a renewed respect for this man who has done so much for our school. A statue and a plaque sits in the plaza that is named after him.

While volunteering at the Westchester county archives, I met a fellow alumni who happens to be the town historian for Ardsley. As it turned out, Lewisohn had a mansion located in Ardsley which today is the location of the local High School. I learned from him many more interesting facts about Adolph Lewisohn. He has written several articles on the life and times of Lewisohn.

Now, I am also volunteering at the CCNY Archives where along with a fellow teammate, we are working to digitize some of the old sports photographs salvaged from the dust bin.

Sample Team Photo - 1972 Gymnastics

Townsend Harris - Founder of the Free Academy, CCNY

My Connections...

Through my role on the Varsity fencing team...in the 1970s,

After my retirement in 2017, I reconnected with the Varsity Women’s Fencing team at CCNY.

The Men’s team had been dropped years ago, due mainly to Title IX regulation.

This brought me back to CCNY after 43 years. I had only made a brief appearance back in 1987 when I was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame for fencing.

Then again in 2008, I wrote an article for the Alumnus magazine paying tribute to our coach Professor Ed Lucia.

The next step was volunteering to join the Asian Alumni board. This lead to the reunion of many of our old teammates.

My next connection was with the CCNY Archives with Sydney Van Nort which lead to my interest in Adolph Lewisohn and Townsend Harris.

I was able to connect with a great great grandson of Adolph Lewisohn and obtained an unpublished copy of his autobiography. You can read the details in the link below.

At about the same time, I became more involved with the Alumni organization. Under the former VP Don Jordan, we had started a few initiatives which is being continued under the new Executive VP of David Covington.

We also honored Don with a plaque thanking him for his 31 years of service to the Alumni Organization.

A newsletter to help promote Fencing was produced with the assistance of Annika Ludke from the Development office.

A Plaque to Honor Don Jordan

Another Connection...

1. I reached out to the editor of the alumnus magazine.

2. I connected him to Jerry, my fellow teammate, to write an article to support the Fencing team. This article was written a while back for the Campus News magazine but was rejected for unknown reason...

3. Jerry modified the article to address a more wider audience.

4. The article was published and well received.

5. One fencing alumni, from the 1960s, read the article and contacted the editor. He wanted to reach out to us and help with the current Women’s fencing team. As with many alumni over the years, have lost touch with the school and was unaware of the current plight.

6. We connected via email and later met for a luncheon. The luncheon was a reunion of sorts. He was on the same team with three other members of fencing alumni that we have help reconnect. They have all retired and living the good life.

7. He Donated $1000 to the team via the CCNY online Fund.

Jack, Bob, Richard, Jerry, Vito - Reunion at Smashburger

Another Connection...

1. At the start of our Friend’s of CCNY Fencing group, I created a website as a way to publicize our mission and some of our activities. It is a goto site for the latest information. It is maintained and updated by me over the last two years...

2. Because it was published on HubPages, this website receives very high page ranking by google search. In fact, it is number 6 out of hundreds of thousand hits when you search on “CCNY Fencing”.

3. Apparently, it was found by the husband of one of our women fencing alumni from the 1990s. A recent tragic ski accident has taken her life along with her young son. The grieving husband who was also a fencer when they met her in graduate school and both attaining a PhD in their respective fields, found our page and reached-out to me.

4. He was aware of the financial crisis at CCNY and the past scandal, and wanted to help the team. I advised him to donate “equipment-in-kind” in lieu of cash.

5. He ended up reaching out to the Head Fencing coach and donated 14 Lame jackets to the team. This was a significant contribution and will serve the team well for years to come.

6. The coach was so grateful and sent him a personal “thank you“ note along with a photo of the current team, all wearing the shining new jackets.


Summary

Life is strange sometimes. We never end up where we started. We take various paths but due to chance or destiny we ended up back to our roots. In my case, my journey began at CCNY as a student and now seem to reconnect as an alumni. Our school has a long and deep history. We also have extensive network of graduates that made contributions to our city and our country and even our world In various disciplines.

Many of us, in our retirement years are making the effort to give back and pay it forward.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Jack Lee

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