Roll of Honor – Winter 2016

In Memoriam
Pierson G. Mapes ’59 & H’90

September 29, 1937 – October 15, 2015

“He was one of us. And we knew it. And he stayed part of us.”
– General Gordon R. Sullivan ’59

“When Pier put his mind to something, he was on it. And he was going to bring it in. And he did.” – General Gordon R. Sullivan ’59, Classmate (War Whoop 1959 photo.)

“When Pier put his mind to something, he was on it. And he was going to bring it in. And he did.” – General Gordon R. Sullivan ’59, Classmate (War Whoop 1959 photo.)

PIER MAPES ’59 made history, and not just as a titan of network television. His professional achievements were only one dimension of a man who spent a life charging ahead, bugle blowing, reaching for the stars, hand outstretched, and with that same big hand, giving back to Norwich time and again.

In the early 1980s, NBC was languishing in last place behind CBS and ABC. Newly appointed NBC chairman and CEO Grant Tinker had set out to assemble a fresh leadership team that included whiz kid Brandon Tartikoff in charge of entertainment, and Pier Mapes, whose business acumen provided the fuel to Tartikoff’s fire. In 1982, Mapes became president of NBC Television, and in three short years the network soared to number one.

From a long line of military officers, Pierson Mapes chose Norwich University at the urging of his high school chemistry teacher, Gerrit Zwart ’21 & H’71. At taller than six-and-a-half-feet, with an irresistible million-dollar smile, Mapes won his classmates’ hearts. “When I first met him, I thought, Wow, this is a really fun guy,” recalls Mark Kisiel ’59, his best friend of 59 years.

At Norwich, Mapes shot photographs for the War Whoop and the Guidon and became legendary for his social life. A 1935 Packard hearse he bought with fellow Sigma Alpha Epsilon brothers made routine weekend trips to Skidmore, then an all-women’s college. The 1959 War Whoop calls him “Norwich’s leading public relations man at Skidmore.”

Reflecting on his classmate, Gordon R. Sullivan ’59 recalls an emerging leader. “He was a real guy, always a real person—and fun, always fun. But more to the point, you could see as a cadet his serious side and his capabilities.”

Pier Mapes ’59 and his legendary bugle. He served as president of NBC Television from 1982 to his 1994 retirement. (Photo: Jennifer Langille.)

Pier Mapes ’59 and his legendary bugle. He served as president of NBC Television from 1982 to his 1994 retirement. (Photo: Jennifer Langille.)

After graduating with a business administration degree, Mapes landed a plum Army commission. “The majority of us went to mundane places like Fort Knox or Fort Campbell or Fort Benning,” Kisiel chuckles. “But Pierson, he landed … in Hawaii.” Trained in armor but too tall for tank duty, Mapes received a commission in the Signal Corps, once saying, “I didn’t even know how to turn on a radio!” He learned.

After serving four years and achieving a captain’s rank, Mapes accepted his 1963 discharge and went to work for NBC. Over time he met his wife, Pat, and for the rest of his life remained passionately loyal to her, his extended family, and to Norwich University. While the couple’s personal gifts to Norwich have totaled well into the millions, perhaps Pier Mapes’ greatest contribution was in inspiring others. He galvanized the Class of 1959 to change the face of fundraising for NU, helping them raise a record-breaking $1.4 million for their 40th reunion; at their 50th, the Old Guard class surpassed their previous decade’s gift by nearly tenfold. A trustee for many years, Mapes chaired the Norwich Forever campaign, which raised $82 million, $27 million over goal. And, his annual support of the Communications Department has transformed that program into a major national competitor.

Pier Mapes will go down in history for his role in changing television. But his longtime friends will remember the boy they met in 1955, big in stature and personality, loving life, who as a man generously shared his good fortune. – J.E.D.


Roll of Honor

The following reflect death notifications received by the University through October 23, 2015. Full obituaries, when available, can be accessed online at alumni.norwich.edu/memorialannounce.

1936 LTC Walter J.D. Hewitt, USA (Ret.), 101, of Windham, N.H., 9/30/2015

1943 George N. Sarantes, 96, of Phoenix, Ariz., 9/12/2015

1944 COL Arthur S. Pottle, 93, of Dowling Park, Fla., 7/18/2015

1944 Paul O. Bancroft, 92, of Reno, Nev., 10/2/2015

1946 COL Jack J. Basil, Jr., USA (Ret.), 91, of Rockville, Md., 9/22/2015

1951 LTC Joseph “Andy” Melville, USA (Ret.), 86, of Hampton Falls, N.H., 8/28/2015

1952 LTC Kenneth W. MacDonald, USA (Ret.), 87, of Carlisle, Pa., 10/9/2015

1953 (VC) Clifton B. Hersey, 82, of Groton, Vt., 8/18/2015

1954 Robert Fenner, 83, of Woodstock, Vt., 10/11/2015 – Father of Jeff Fenner ’78

1954 Donald L. Kjelleren, 82, of Shelburne, Vt., 8/30/2015 – Father of Gary Kjelleren ’81

1954 James K. Sparrell, 83, of Damariscotta, Maine, 9/17/2015

1955 William H. MacIntire, 82, of Raymondville, N.Y., 7/22/2015

1955 Joyce A. Doiron, 79, of Sacramento, Calif., 6/27/2015 – Wife of COL Nicholas Doiron ’55

1955 LTC Roger T. Kepler, USA (Ret.), 82, of North Bend, Pa., 7/29/2015

1956 Don Fillion, 82, of Montgomery, Vt., 7/28/2015

1956 Arthur J. Robert, of Williston, Vt., 9/2/2015

1957 Thomas W. Dowling, Jr., of El Paso, Texas, 10/19/2015

1957 Robert L. Eckert Jr., 81, of Catlett, Va., 9/23/2015

1957 Marjorie M. Kavanaugh, 81, of Fairfax City, Va., 8/17/2015 – Wife of Paul Kavanaugh ’57

1958 Edward T. Fite, 79, of Chandler, Ariz., 9/11/2015

1959 James H. Brownell, 77, of Jacksonville, Fla., 9/5/2015

1959 Pierson G. Mapes, 78, of Sloatsburg, N.Y., 10/15/2015

1960 Dennis F. Gormley, 72, of McLean, Va., 12/27/2010

1962 (VC) Marilyn B. Wright, 73, of Annapolis, Md., 9/7/2015

1963 Robert W. Lincoln, 76, of The Villages, Fla., 9/13/2015

1963 (VC) Nancy L. Lortz (Hemberger), 72, of Westborough, Mass., 10/15/2015

1965 (VC) Martha R. Porch, 70, of Cumberland, Maine, 10/5/2015

1965 Arnold T. Schroeder, 72, of Waynesboro, Va., 10/18/2015

1968 Thomas M. Potter, 68, of Sandy, Utah, 8/27/2015

1970 Christopher J. Bellavia, 42, of Portland, Tenn., 8/22/2015 – Son of Joseph Bellavia ’70

1970 Elmer Munger, 91, of Hutchinson, Kan., 05/24/06 – Former head of civil engineering, dean of the university, and father of Harold Munger ’70

1970 (VC) Catherine E. Stakel, 74, of Falmouth, Maine, 9/14/2015

1970 (VC) Ellen M. Tomko, 65, of Wallingford, Conn., 9/25/2015

1970 LTC Theodore P. Wyman, ARNG (Ret.), 66, of Richmond, Vt., 10/4/2015

1971 (VC) Suzanne L. Barry, 64, of Bridgeport, Conn., 7/23/2015

1971 Gary L. Vitty, 66, of Scituate, Mass., 9/17/2015

1972 Thomas C. Rall, 67, of Maricopa, Ariz., 8/3/2015

1973 Paul R. Andrews, 65, of Lighthouse Point, Fla., 8/23/2015

1975 Abbey L. Feinberg, 89, of Levittown, Pa., 9/8/2015 – Mother of Mindy Feinberg ’75

1979 (VC) Charles M. Frattini, 58, of South Burlington, Vt., 9/25/2015

1985 Kyle Buzzell, 52, of Pittsford, Vt., 9/4/2015

1985 (VC) Deborah A. Light, 80, of Gainesville, Fla., 7/21/2015

1985 (VC) Susan F. Mellace, 78, of Peabody, Mass., 6/16/2015

1985 (VC) Mary K. Monahan, 77, of Marlborough, Mass., 8/7/2015

1987 (VC) Marguerite H. Ferris, 88, of Shelburne, Vt., 8/14/2015

1988 Robert E. Ernst, 76, of Nottingham, N.H., 9/6/2015 – Father of Steven Ernst ’88

1991 (VC) R. David Stauffer, 70, of Gainesville, Fla., 7/25/2015

1992 Michael Babyak Jr., 78, of Randolph Township, N.J., 9/4/2015 – Father of Michael Babyak ’92

1996 (VC) Amy M. Beveridge, 72, of Bloomfield, Conn., 9/9/2015

M’07 (CGCS) Todd W. Wenberg, 34, of Boynton Beach, Fla., 1/13/2012

M’10 (CGCS) Mary L. Cashman, 61, of Wauconda, Ill., 8/27/2015

2015 (CGCS) 1SG P. Andrew McKenna, 35, of Bristol, R.I., 8/7/2015

Duncan F. Forbes, 80, of Worcester, Vt., 9/1/2015 – Former Staff

To inform the University of the passing of a member of the Norwich family, please contact the Alumni Office at (802) 485-2100 or alumni@norwich.edu.

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