Stories of Their Lives: Class of '67 Produces a Groundbreaking Yearbook

Written by: Christina Crovetto,
From left: Tom Juliano, Kathy Martell-Ciociola, Steve Rohde, Charlie Pritzlaff, Bob Rossi, Gerry Kurth, George Kelly and Priya Vin, associate director of alumni relations at NJIT
“It is hoped that our learning experiences can benefit future classes.”
We all know that it takes a village to raise a child, but what does it take to produce a stellar yearbook — one that will serve as an exemplar for future classes?  For the members of the class of ’67 yearbook committee, a shared vision to encourage participation in their 50th reunion and yearbook resulted in 26 undergraduate attendees at the event and 75 biographies of their classmates in the yearbook.

“By adding a video and yearbook this year, it almost tripled the participation in our 50th,” said Gerry Kurth, who retired from IBM and then the Gartner Group in 2004. “It is hoped that our learning experiences can benefit future classes.”  To assist future classes with their own yearbook production, Kurth compiled a detailed manual of best practices and observations.

In addition to Kurth, committee members included Kathy Martell-Ciociola, George Kelly, Tom Juliano, Charlie Pritzlaff, Steve Rohde and Bob Rossi. Their objectives were to: 1) add to the reunion experience by sharing their stories and broadening their horizons; 2) reward those who contributed their bios with a quality book and video; 3) expand the reunion spirit beyond those who attended the reunion; 4) produce a product which serves as a model for those who succeed them; and 5) use this communications channel to broaden support for their alma mater.

Besides the 75 biographies, the 136-page yearbook features “then and now” campus maps and faculty and staff photos from five decades ago. It also includes a firsthand account by Joanne Marucci-Roth of her experiences as one of the five women in the class of 1967 and a commentary about the bios by Vector Managing Editor Babatunde “Baba” Ojo directed at the current generation of students. In addition, the yearbook contains a DVD insert created by Steve Rohde, who retired from General Motors in 2002 as a technical director in the company’s Math-Based Organization. The DVD includes a “morphing” video produced by Rohde as well as scanned copies of the 1967 Commencement booklet and an electronic version of the yearbook itself. Isa Suqi ’81, owner of Nextwave Web in Paterson, contributed to the effort with professional guidance and discounted printing services.

“It was a lot of fun,” Rohde said of his involvement in the project. “But it was more work than we thought.”

Charlie Pritzlaff, who is retired from the Air Force and still works part time for Georgetown University, coordinated the review and editing of the bios in the yearbook.

“The yearbook project took a tremendous amount of work on the part of Gerry, Steve and myself, but the final product made it well worth the effort,” Pritzlaff noted. “When the committee started planning for the reunion and making contacts, a yearbook of this quality wasn’t being conceived of.  That evolved with Gerry’s vision and Steve’s skill. Any future class wishing to do a reunion yearbook will have a head start based on our ‘lessons learned,’ but should not underestimate the time that will still be required.” 

“It was quite an exciting project,” Kurth added. “It evolved from just putting a yearbook together to a broader goal of having a template for our successors and creating a model to institutionalize the concept for the benefit of the school. I enjoyed working with the committee and am very pleased with the positive reception of the final product. I feel that the committee moved the needle a bit in helping reconnect more classmates with their alma mater.”