Inner Circle Profile – Maria Modica-Snow ’71 and Richard Snow ’71

Inner Circle Profile – Maria Modica-Snow ’71 and Richard Snow ’71

A Wagner Love Story

Maria Modica-Snow and her husband Richard Snow are celebrating their 50th Reunion as Wagner College graduates from 1971.  During Wagner Weekend (October 1 & 2) they will become part of the exclusive club of “Golden Seahawks” who have celebrated their 50th reunion. Patrick Mooney, Director of College Relations, spoke with Inner Circle members Richard and Maria in anticipation of their trip back to campus.

Patrick:  I love to hear stories about Wagner couples.  Richard, tell me how you and Maria met?

Richard:  Maria and I met at Wagner on her very last day on campus.  Maria had just taken her last final and was seated with our classmate and my friend, Kappa Sigma Alpha fraternity brother, Jim Casey in the new Hawk’s Nest. I walked into Hawk’s Nest and saw Jim sitting at a table and went over. Jim introduced me to Maria Modica and that was the start of a beautiful friendship!

Patrick: What was your Wagner experience like?

Maria:   I majored in Psychology and was very fond of Dr. Kapostins and Dr. Lee Borah, such very different personalities, both wonderful, interesting men and great professors.  I kept in touch with Dr. Borah until his passing five years ago. I also remember Dr. Robert Andersen with whom I took one history class AND it was the ONLY history class in all of my education that I truly enjoyed. Rather than memorizing dates and battles, he introduced us to the lives of the people who lived during the times we discussed.

Richard:  I started at Wagner in 1965 as a commuter. Maria started in 1967 – also started as a commuter and then moved on campus in 1969. I was working full time and living at home so I could pay for school. Amazing, you could pay for school yourself in those days. Tuition was $15 a credit, so 16 credits was $240! $480 for a full year of tuition! At the end of my first four years of school, partly due to my work schedule, I was 16 credits short of graduation and wound up graduating in 1971 instead of 1969.

I majored in Biology and fondly remember Organic Chemistry with Dr. Johann Schultz!  I was absolutely terrified of him by reputation. I heard over and over that he was the hardest teacher, and it was the hardest course at Wagner. So, even though I was a bio major I kept putting it off till the very end. In the end, I loved it!

Maria:  I was a member of Zeta Tau Alpha, a national sorority; towards the end of my junior year we learned of their racist practices, so we all decided to leave the national organization.  We created our own “charter” and became a local sorority. I remain in touch with some of my best friends from those days.  My “roomie”, Nina Borruso Spitzer, and her husband are flying in for our 50th reunion, to be followed by a road trip through New England. Nina also grew up in Brooklyn. We met on our first day on campus and roomed together for our last two years.  She moved to Arizona about 40 years ago and has not seen an east coast autumn in all that time.

Richard:  And very importantly, while at Wagner, I was at the end of my college deferment from the draft. Before the month of May was over I was reclassified and primed to be drafted - they were drafting 27,000 men a month - one in four into the Marines for the very first time in history because of the losses in Vietnam. I got very lucky and found an opening in the National Guard on Staten Island and enlisted on the spot. What this meant was that I had to defer school for a full year while I waited to be called for active duty and then actually do the active duty which I completed in May of 1970.

Richard:  Oh, and I have great memories of Homecoming and the floats! Kappa was the king of the floats. Always the biggest and the best! It turns out that the year they made the winner of the previous homecoming build a float for the queen and her court. Maria Modica (my future wife) was the homecoming queen (1970)! I didn’t meet her or get to know her then but we built one helluva float. At Songfest we performed, “And Here’s to You Dr. Davidson” sung to Simon and Garfunkel’s Mrs. Robinson. It was very irreverent and very fun.

Patrick: So your experiences at Wagner led to successful careers?

Maria:  After graduation, I worked at St. Michael’s Home on Staten Island for a while, then taught in Brooklyn for two years, and then we moved from Staten Island to Croton-on-Hudson in 1976 where we still live. In 1981 I graduated from Pace Law School (10 years after Wagner graduation) and started my law career while starting a family. Andrew (42) was born during law school, Emily (38) during my first job at the Westchester County Attorney’s Office, and Alex (31) during my private practice years. I retired on December 31, 2017.

Richard:  My career started the year we got married when I took a position with a pharmaceutical company, Winthrop Labs, as a detail man. I moved into general pharmaceutical advertising soon after and had a very successful career there before transitioning into a start-up tech company in the first “dot com” boom. When that went bust I was perfectly positioned to start up my own business working with the top medical publications in the world, helping them to transition to online.

Patrick:  How do you like to spend your personal time?

Richard:  Our personal time is centered around family and activities. Maria and I love skiing and we have plenty of great locations in the northeast. Travel has evolved into our current top “hobby” and it often centers on visiting our children and top wine regions of the world.

Maria:  As I mentioned earlier, we have three grown children: Andrew, Emily and Alex as well as two grandchildren: Alex’s son Ezra is almost two and they live in the Netherlands; Emily’s son Johnny is just 13 months old and they live 12 minutes from us.

Patrick:  Why do you give back to Wagner College?

Richard:  I think high-quality liberal arts education is important. Wagner has mostly been of the highest quality—when we were there and for the past 25 years or so. The college has an incredible future if we support it. I was so very fortunate to be able to attend when I could pay for the schooling myself. I came from a very modest middle-class family that valued education.

Maria:  I’m proud of the path Wagner has taken and how it shows that diversity and inclusion is important to everyone’s success. There were some difficult years when we were there with the student strike, the creation of a program to bring in minority students, the drop in the college’s “standing”, as the program and students gained their sea legs, but now the school is as strong as ever, academically, socially, and athletically.

We are fortunate that we can support the school and intend to continue our support going forward.

Back row, left to right: Rachel and Alex, Emily and Pjer, Katryn and Andrew. Front row: Maria and Richard.