By DAVE THOMAS
You never know where life will take you and who you will reconnect with many years later.
For one local woman, the chance to reunite with a former student she taught back in the 1970’s in upstate New York was too good to pass up recently.
As Kathy Butterstein from the Smoke Tree community of San Diego noted, it was 1973 and she was the only biology teacher at Chatham High, in upstate N.Y.
“It was a struggle making lesson plans and grading papers,” Butterstein said. “I was only six years older than my students. I was lucky they gave me the benefit of the doubt and we basically all learned together. Some of my first students and I have kept in touch over the years, and I have even attended some of their weddings and reunions.”
Butterstein pointed out that ‘Debbie T.’ was in her very first class. According to Buttertstein, the young girl was one of her favorite students.
“I actually drove her and another student to visit Cortland State University during their senior year,” Butterstein went on to say. “Deb decided to attend Cortland and returned to Chatham High after graduation as a substitute teacher. Eventually, she joined the New York State Troopers, and became the top ranked woman trooper.”
Flash-forward years later and Deb’s daughter, Kelsey, is a Navy doctor serving aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln.
The Lincoln recently returned from deployment, docking in Hawaii. Deb and her husband flew to Hawaii to meet Kelsey. The Navy sponsors a “Tiger Cruise” for family members who have been out to sea once their tour ends. So, Deb and her husband boarded the Lincoln and sailed with Kelsey back to San Diego.
Butterstein (current president of GAGKC) and a number of her fellow Grantville-Allied Gardens Kiwanis Club members were down on Shelter Island recently when the Lincoln cruised into San Diego Bay.
“You never know where life will take you,” Butterstein added. “When Deb walked into my classroom 49 years ago, both of us nervous at the start of our first year as student and teacher, we could never have guessed that we would meet again as she sailed into San Diego alongside her daughter, a Navy doctor.”
— Reach editor Dave Thomas at: Dave@sdnews.com.