Life After Tappan Zee

Forrest (Woody) Burgener
1962 Graduation Picture
Recent Picture

After graduation from TZ I went to Tusculum College in Greeneville, Tenn (where Ed Rechtorovic,George Coates starred in Basketball and Matt Rechtorovic attended after the USMC).

I spent a little over two years learning to cut class, drink beer and generally prepare myself for early "expulsion".

After a long bus ride home to Sparkill, and a year or so working for Joe Leote installing septic systems I enlisted in the Air Force in 1966.

I declined Officer Training and spent four quite pleasant and happy years in California and Okinawa, Japan, where I developed quite a fair reputation as "Sgt. Bilko".

I was involved in some of the original Space Program projects (and not a few UFO "sightings" that are now being made public!) including the development of the Minuteman Missile I & II and the fore-runner of the "Challenger" (then know as a Lifting Body).  Jeez, I hope this stuff has been "de-classified".

Okinawa was fun and a good place from which to bomb Vietnam with B-52s, which we did, supposedly in secret. Now you know.

I took lots of college classes while in the service, making up for "lost" time and was able to gain admission to NYU after discharge and earn a BA in history, English and economics around 1972 or so. 

I married while in the service (eloped to Trinity Church in NYC) a beautiful and brilliant young lady, Louise Rose Vitale, who was attending Chestnut Hill College in  Philadelphia.

If my "career" had ended with that union it would have been an unquestioned success.

Louise eventually became a VP of John Hancock insurance co. in Boston so we maintained homes there and in Schooleys Mt., NJ.  We had a beautiful daughter, Jenny Rebecca, who was a fabulous cheer-leader in high school and also graduated from Chestnut Hill.

Louise died suddenly in 1998 without ever having been sick a single day in her life.  "I'm too busy" she would always say.  She died in my arms from a massive brain hemorrhgage just days after her 50th birthday.

Jenny has rewarded me by a gift of two absolutely gorgeous grandchildren, John Forrest, and Julia Louise, who are now 9 and 7. 

Bryn Colleen Burgener graced my life when Jenny was 25...and she is now in the 6th grade.  Part pain in the butt, "bad girl of rock and roll" and Angel of the Morning...she is proof that God exists.

So we have Bryn, Jack and Julia.  The Three Amigos. They keep me busy as "PaPa" and "Dad".  One gets my watch, one my "Beemer" and one, besides my heart, gets my watch.

I've spent many years in the medical business finally ending as owner of a Cardiac Monitoring company. In between I loved owning a Historical Restoration company specializing in Revolutionary War era buildings.

We spent many, many happy years with a home at Mahogany Run in St. Thomas which we sold in 2005.

I'm now "retired"...or at least not officially working, just puttering around doing things for Veterans and working in my yard practicing landscape architecture (moving rocks).

Like many fellow-TZ-ites I cherish my years in Piermont and Orangeburg.  The school on the Hudson remains one of my favorite buildings.  I only wish I had  been given the chance to "restore" it.

I've been lucky to travel to Italy a number of times and research my family history...the Lamberti family from Florence and the DeZago family from daughter owns a wine store and indulges my love of wines with an infrequent "come to the store and talk to the customers, Dad"...

Memories of TZ abound in my heart...the Aramini twins... Linda G. and Maris H.....Sheila T....Bill Ciganek...Jim Hurban and Richie Clucas...and all the rest...the great sports teams of the 60s with Ratz, and Coates and Cozart and the gang...great teachers like Bill Moran and Dr. Levesque...I stop there 'cause I can't name them all....

My brother Chip (Charlie Burgener) and my cousin Rich (Richie DeZago) and I live fairly close...see each other often and our TZ years is always a great topic of discussion....Richie spent his time in Vietnam  and retired as a police officer and Chip recently retired from 33 yrs in the U.S. Secret Service.  Oh, the stories THEY could tell!!

Jackie Francisco and Dawn Yozzo have recently popped back into my life and made it more fun...and keep me in touch with stories of some of the "old" gang...perhaps we'll finally get a "reunion" together for '62/63...

Two years ago the "Sparkill" kids had a reunion set up by Richie and Joe Foo and the guys/ all-time Hero, Joe D'Auria, was there....we all felt like teenagers again...all we needed was Dick Clark and American Bandstand.

when I finish my all get a "signed" copy....:)

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