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Sam '62 & Joann Castronovo

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Celebrating 50 Years of Clarkson
November 2011

In the spring of 1958, Sam Castronovo ’62 decided to enroll in the Civil Engineering Program at Clarkson College, sight unseen.  His first visit was in September of that same year, when his older brother drove him from their Rochester home to Potsdam, just in time to begin classes.  Sam remembers his brother’s departing words were “these are going to be the best four years of your life….enjoy them!”  Sam vowed to make sure he did everything in his power to do just that.

One life lesson that Sam quickly learned was not to believe everything he read, as Clarkson’s admission materials did not accurately depict the distance between the residence facilities and the academic buildings.  "When I realized the dorms were almost a mile away from the classroom, I said, 'you've got to be kidding me!' ” Sam says with a laugh.  He also did not realize just how cold it got in the tiny town of Potsdam.  Though he expected snow and frigid temperatures, he jokes about hanging his white tee shirt and khaki pants out the window to dry in September, only to return to stiff frozen clothes.  Though Sam’s initial reactions to Clarkson may not have been exactly what he was expecting, the memories and relationships he forged during his four years on campus have lasted throughout his life. 

Several of his Pi Kappa Phi (Karma) fraternity brothers remain his close friends today.  Sam also met his wife, Joann Carrington, while attending Clarkson.  Joann was a student at SUNY Potsdam and she became Mrs. Sam Castronovo in 1962. 

After graduating from Clarkson, Sam accepted a position with the State of New York in Rochester.  A few months later, the Castronovo’s moved from the Rochester to the West Coast, as Sam was offered a job with Caltrans.  After 3 years they decided it was too far from their family, so they relocated to Michigan, where Sam went to work for the Department of Transportation (DOT).  It was during this time that he continued his education, eventually earning both his MS and PhD in Civil Engineering from Michigan State University.  After nearly 27 years of service with the DOT, Sam took an early retirement package.  However, he was not ready to end his career.  Instead, he began consulting with a small firm based out of Chicago, which was eventually acquired by AECOM.  Fifteen years passed and he decided it was time to fully retire, though he can still be talked into an occasional consulting project from time to time.  Sam’s vast career has spanned over 48 years with the majority of his experience in the design and construction of road, bridge and transit infrastructure. 

Though Sam’s professional career has (deliberately) slowed down, he and Joann continue to lead a busy lifestyle.  They have found a good balance between the warm and cold climate by residing in Michigan during the summer and Florida in the winter.  They also enjoy spending time with their three children and five grandchildren.   The Castronovo’s are avid travelers and hope to return to Potsdam in July 2012 to celebrate The Class of 1962 50th reunion.

 “Everything I have is because of my career, which is based on my education.”  Sam says.  Consequently, in honor of his 50threunion, Sam created a charitable gift annuity with Clarkson that will ultimately provide scholarship support when the annuity terminates.  “I wanted to do my part and pay Clarkson back for all I received.  I started taking notice of the gift annuity rates since they are higher than most investment interest rates today.”  A couple of conversations with the Annie Clarkson Society staff and a simple contract later, Sam created a wonderful contribution that will help ensure the Clarkson experience for future Golden Knights.