The Colgate Scene
November 2001

People on the go
A chance rescue

Fortunately for the pilot and three passengers of an aircraft in distress, Kurt H. Brown '64, Delta Air Lines captain, formerly of Alexandria Bay, and his co-pilot Oke Pearson, heard their emergency radio call. The aircraft had lost its only engine and was preparing to ditch at sea.

While en route from New York to Tokyo on Delta Air Lines flight 25 on July 8, and nearing the Russian-Japanese coast, Capt. Brown and copilot heard the distress call near Sakhalin Island on the East Russian coast.

"Although communications were poor, we felt reasonably sure that they had properly determined the identity of the aircraft, charted its position, knew its direction of travel, number of people on board, type of emergency equipment being carried and other pertinent information," Brown explained. They remained in contact with the distressed aircraft and contacted air control and rescue agencies in both Tokyo and San Francisco regarding the facts of the situation.

"Our main concern was to ensure that the aircraft's position was known and that all agencies realized that a Russian rescue was necessary, as the aircraft was ditching in Russian waters," he continued. The area, known as the Sea of Okhotsk, is quite remote and the ocean very cold and often stormy. "The odds of a chance rescue, or a long-term survival at sea, would not be good," said Brown. "Additionally, it would take time to launch any sort of rescue operation to that remote location."

The ditching occurred at noon, Japanese time, and, about 3 a.m. the American pilot and his three Japanese passengers were rescued by a Russian ship. The Headline News Channel had a shot on the rescue, as did NBC News. According to Kurt, he didn't sleep much that night, hearing the pilot's last words, wondering if they had survived the impact of ditching, thinking about them bobbing up and down in that cold, dark sea all night, and wondering if he and his co-pilot had correctly plotted their position. Fortunately, they had.

Capt. Brown spoke with the pilot some time later by telephone and said, "He practically jumped through the telephone." The pilot said that the air and water temperature were both about 40 degrees and they were in seven-foot seas in a small rubber raft; they were totally exhausted and couldn't have held on much longer. This was one leg of an around the world effort by this crew and airplane. Their last leg turned out to be a very lucky one.

For their life-saving effort, Capt. Brown and First Officer Pearson received Delta Air Lines' Circle of Safety Award.


Reprinted with permission from the Thousand Islands Sun, Alexandria Bay, NY.

Mark Shevitz, left, and Jon Glickstein
Automating legal services

Mark Shevitz '92 and Jon Glickstein '92 are part of a pioneering dot-com that is changing the practice of law.

Chicago-based VisaNow.com has automated U.S. immigration and visa processing online, the first time a legal service has been provided via the World Wide Web. According to Shevitz, who is director of marketing, "VisaNow.com is laying the foundation for the way law will be practiced for decades."

Shevitz and Glickstein have been on board nearly from the start, and that is part of the appeal.

"I moved from what is one of the most traditional structures -- life as an associate in a big law firm -- to a start-up company," says Glickstein, who was drawn by the innovative nature of the work and the opportunity to be involved on all fronts.

As head of the sales department he manages the sales team, directs the sales effort and is charged with acquiring new clients while retaining established business.

VisaNow.com was a client of Shevitz's when he worked for a consulting firm, and he finally joined the fledging business late in 1999 as vice president of marketing. Working closely with Glickstein, he identifies markets, oversees public relations, advertising, direct mail campaigns and promotional strategies.

The two admit to plenty of sleepless nights wrestling with issues ranging from technology to staffing and sales and the constant search for ways to improve the system.

"We've had to wear a lot of different hats," says Shevitz. "It's a lot like a liberal arts education."

VisaNow.com was founded by immigration lawyer Robert Meltzer, who was frustrated by the lack of efficiency in the traditional visa application process, in 1997. The company now has 400 clients, from Fortune 100 corporations to companies with fewer than 100 employees, who need to hire skilled foreign workers for U.S. positions. The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service approved 4.7 million immigrant visas last year.

"Immigration application preparation is a document-focused process that requires multi-party, instant access to information," says Meltzer. "The Internet is the ideal medium for improving the way the process is handled."

Says Shevitz, "We have already succeeded in changing the way hundreds of companies are handling one aspect of the law. By the end of the year, we will be working with other law firms, allowing them to automate their practices. After that, there's no turning back."

Well-deserved honor

Dick Leland '60 has joined the ranks of Vince Lombardi, Johnny Unitas, Art Rooney Sr. and Otis Sistrunk in the American Football Association (AFA) Hall of Fame, and no one could possibly have done more to earn the honor.

Leland played 21 seasons of semi-pro football, 20 with the Green-jackets of Hudson Falls and Glens Falls, NY. Over the course of all those autumns, from 1963 to 1982, he was a safety, cornerback, quarterback, wingback, halfback, fullback, tight end, split end and flanker. Not one to lollygag on the sidelines, Leland also punted, kicked off and returned kicks. In his later years he served as a holder for the place-kickers.

Off the field, Leland was way more than a triple threat as well. Over the years he has served as team president, general manager, yearbook editor, ad sales man, greens-keeper and custodian, even cleaning the restrooms.

"Football players are said to be `mobile, agile and hostile.' I was `versatile, fragile and senile,' having played into my 40s," says Leland. The record book says he was a whole lot more. Leland set a league passing completion record in 1974 (64 percent), had three interceptions in a 1963 game and caught three touchdown passes two seasons later. He was recognized four times as the most dedicated player on and off the field, and when the team won the 1976 Empire Football League championship, Leland was singled out as "the Heart & Guts of Greenjackets Football." Oh, and Leland helped found the league and has been its vice president, treasurer and secretary.

Naturally enough, he was the first player inducted into the Greenjackets Hall of Fame in 1998, the team's 70th anniversary year.

The AFA represents 500 senior amateur, or semi-pro, teams in 46 leagues nationwide and some 25,000 players, coaches and administrators who compete for "the love of the game."

Leland was inducted along with the rest of the class of 2001 in Canton, Ohio in June.

Told as a boy he would never play sports because of his flat feet and bad back, Leland was a late bloomer and credits others with his longevity, especially all the lineman who protected him over the years.

"God didn't give me a big frame but He gave me a big heart," Leland told the Glens Falls Post-Star. JDH

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