“Carl was a gift to Wagner and to me,” said President Richard Guarasci. “I treasured the moments with him. He brought so much intelligence and empathy to almost everything we discussed. He personified cosmopolitanism. I just loved being with him.”
“I was saddened to hear of Carl’s passing, but so very grateful to have had the opportunity to know him,” said Trustee Aletta Diamond. “Carl brought so much to my Wagner experience. While on the National Alumni board, he brought new ideas and enthusiasm to the planning and execution of Reunion weekend. I believe his efforts increased attendance and the way alumnus reconnected to the college.”
Son of Carl Arnold Westerdahl Sr. and Elizabeth Houck Westerdahl, he was born in Newark, N.J., Oct. 19, 1937, and reared in Gettysburg, Pa. After graduating from Wagner College in 1959, Carl served in the U.S. Army Reserve from 1961 to 1965. He had a 34-year career in higher education administration, holding executive positions at Washington College (Chestertown, Md.) and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy, N.Y.), serving as admissions director, dean of men, dean of students and director of alumni and community relations.
Carl Westerdahl was a very active Wagner College alumnus, mobilizing the Class of 1959 as its 50th anniversary reunion approached and organizing “Wagner ’59 and Friends,” which raised the money that made possible the construction of the Class of 1959 Learning Commons in Horrmann Library, a suite of four high-tech group study rooms adjacent to the library’s Great Room that were dedicated in 2011.
In his retirement, Carl co-authored histories of Rensselaer and the Albany Academy. As an active volunteer for the Glimmerglass Opera in Cooperstown, N.Y., he established the College of Opera Knowledge to enable a wide circle of friends to learn about and enjoy opera.
In Williamstown, Carl Westerdahl was an active member of the First Congregational Church, where he served as co-moderator, and the Williamstown Historical Museum, of which he was president. At various times he volunteered with the Clark Art Institute, A Better Chance, Northern Berkshire Community Coalition and the Williamstown Chamber of Commerce.
Energetic and enthusiastic, Carl had many interests, ranging from NASCAR to opera. He enjoyed American history, art, music, sports, sailing, dining and travel, including “blue road” travel in the U.S. to small cities. In October 2012, he celebrated his 75th birthday with more than 100 family members and friends.
Carl Westerdahl was predeceased in 2001 by his first wife, Mary Church Westerdahl, and in 2008 by his son, Eric Jon Westerdahl. He is survived by: his second wife, Susan Stetson Clarke; his brother and sister-in-law, Bruce and Nancy Westerdahl of Penn Yan, N.Y.; his daughter and son-in-law, Maura K. Westerdahl and Thomas Mattice of Juneau, Alaska; his son, Carl H. Westerdahl and fiancée Karen Larson of Seattle, Wash.; his granddaughter, Elizabeth Mary Westerdahl, and her mother, Martha A. Westerdahl, of Williamstown; and his nieces and nephews.
Donations in Carl Westerdahl’s memory may be made to the Williamstown Historical Museum, 1095 Main St., Williamstown MA 01267.
Visitation is scheduled for Tuesday, April 9 from 4 to 7 p.m. at Flynn and Dagnoli-Montana Funeral Home, 74 Marshall St., North Adams, Mass. A memorial service followed by a reception will be held on Wednesday, April 10 at 11 a.m. at the First Congregational Church, 906 Main St. (Route 2), Williamstown, Mass.