News From Fort Schuyler

February 1, 2010 - Volume 10, No. 4

MUSICAL NOTE - Merchant mariners are getting their due in the current tour of the Band of the Irish Guards and Pipes and Drums of the Royal Regiment of Scotland (BIG-PADRRS?). ROD McFADDEN '75 attended the recent concert of the Scottish Guards at George Mason University and writes: "During their salute to the U.S. Armed Forces, they INCLUDED a salute to the Merchant Marine by playing the Maritime Service anthem, 'Heave Ho.' Go Brits!"

Heave Ho! My Lads, Heave Ho!
It's a long, long way to go.
It's a long, long pull with our hatches full,
Braving the wind, braving the sea'.

[And remember, you can always go to the Stephen B. Luce Library Archives at SUNY Maritime College to listen to a fife and drum rendition of the alma mater, the 'Bells of St. Mary's' -]

LOOKS NEW - New York City's 'Working Harbor Committee has a newly designed website at Go there to order tickets for their next event, the February 4th screening of 'On the Waterfront', featuring introductory remarks by celebrated maritime historian, William H. Miller. The program will be held at the Norwegian Seaman's Church, 315 East 52nd St.

EBB TIDE - An automobile accident in Suffolk County claimed the life of JEFFREY McGUIRE '98 on January 18, 2010. He was just 33. According to an article in Newsday on the next day, Jeff had gotten out of his vehicle on Ocean Parkway a little before 7:00 PM because of an accident. He was struck by a passing SUV and pronounced dead at the scene. Jeff, who worked at the South Nassau Communities Hospital, is survived by his wife, Gina, two daughters and two brothers. His classmate, RON HAMSKI, writes: "I graduated with Jeff in '98. We played lacrosse at Maritime together. I would run into him in Wading River every now and then. Jeff's brother, Doug is also a Maritime Grad." [Class of 1995]

News of the death of retired faculty member, CHARLES THOR, on December 25. 2009, was sent by JOHN McMURRAY '64. John wrote: "The Class of 1964 was the first class in the Meteorology program and Charlie was the instructor." According to Science Department colleague, TONY MANZI '89, Professor Thor taught at Fort Schuyler from 1962-1987 and served as the first president of the maritime chapter of the faculty union, UUP.

AUSTIN DOOLEY '68 knew Professor Thor as a student and colleague. In tribute to Prof. Thor he wrote, in part: "As a member of the Science Department, I shared an office with Charles from the fall of 1974 to the summer of 1979. 'I could count on him for advice and professional guidance. In addition, as faculty members we were on a few cruises together..'.. "

"As a cadet in his classes, we always appreciated the straight-forward manner in which he would approach a subject - from map plotting to the equations of motion. The M&O Class of 1968's first meteorological exposure to Charles was in the Met Lab on the roof of the Fort. It was a tiny little room with plotting tables, Teletype machines and pin boards for maps we had to draw. Could not fit more than 8 cadets in the room at the same time. We had to climb up the shaky steel stairs on the Fort wall to reach it. Naturally, being on the roof of the Fort and near the south entrance to the Inner Gorge, on snowy days as other cadets proceeded to class on the sidewalk beneath us, snowballs occasionally appeared from the skies above - just a different type of wintery precipitation."

"Charles introduced us to the art of drawing a weather map. He was an expert, having learned it in the Army Air Force during WWII while stationed in India, stories of which were well known to all Fort Schuyler M&O cadets. When it came to map drawing, the first lesson was station plotting - out came a dime. He took the dime and put it on the map (having told us that they are weather maps not charts) and said, "Gentlemen, your station plot must fit within the area of a dime." Our lab assignments included the use of the teletype data in the plotting and drawing of maps for discussion in class. He would have us come into the lab during the evening and prepare the maps for the morning lab session. I can still hear the click-clack of the Teletype machines. On the cruise, he had us making observations and plotting maps. He was a great hands-on meteorologist."

"I recently met a CCNY graduate of the 1950's and in discussion he told me he once took a weather course at CCNY and he mentioned that his instructor required them to fit the data to the dime. Of course, Charles taught at CCNY before coming to Maritime."

"In my opinion, I think his favorite meteo subject was "clouds". He would often work at his desk preparing cloud photographs taken from magazines for the library AV department to make 35mm slides. I think he would be over the moon with today's pc/PowerPoint method of slide production for classroom use - there would be no stopping him! Anyway the slides would go into a Kodak slide carousel for use in the weather classroom up on the fourth deck of the S&E building. The whole meteo complex on that floor was his design for teaching practical synoptic meteorology. Passing the door of the class while in session, the lights would be off with the slide projector beam of light flowing onto the front wall screen and Charles would be talking about cumulonimbus clouds. With a quick glance you could see a few cadets doing what cadets do best in a darkened classroom!"

"All of the Fort Schuyler M&O graduates owe a great deal to Charles Thor. Dr. DEGANI put the program in his hands, and Charles made it work. Charles taught us about life and science. To work with him was an honor."

Prof. Thor was a long-time New York State Checkers champion. He served in the Air Force, retiring with the rank of Lt. Col. He is survived by his wife Lynne and four children. He was interred at Calverton National Cemetery. [ is the link for the obituary for Prof Thor appeared in the December 27 issue of Newsday.]