ClassMate Bio

 

JOHN (Jack) VOKRAL

CLASS OF 1960

Written: June, 2002

 

My daughter Jenny and I.

After THS, I went to Staten Island Community College and enrolled in the Electrical Technology Program.  Although I originally wanted the Pre-Engineering program, they said my HS grades were not high enough - they were right - a 77 average just did not cut it.

 

However, I plowed through that program, did well, and then was allowed to transfer into engineering.  For those of you who went to SICC, my mentor, Dean Fitzpatrick, guided me in a direction that was right for me.  I owe this and later successes to him - he taught me how to focus and work hard.

My son Eric and I.

After that program I transferred to The City College of New York, uptown campus, 136th Street in Manhattan, and completed a bachelor in Civil Engineering.  Again, plowed through it and finished it.  It was a very tough program but gave me an excellent grounding in ďhow to thinkĒ and solve problems - as well as a good engineering background.  The process is one I apply to many things in life and I am grateful for having gotten a terrific education - essentially free.  To this day, I contribute annually to CCNY.

 

From there I got my first job with the City of New York managing sewer and water construction projects in the City, including construction supervision in the field - a great challenge.  I had joined the Army Reserves to satisfy my military obligation, thinking that this was the safest way to avoid Vietnam - boy was I wrong.  My unit was activated, sent to ĎNam, and I spent a year there.  A scary but unforgettable experience.

 

When I came back, I went back to work for the City, but kept asking myself how the funding got allocated, who made priority decisions, and who decided where the needs were for the capital construction projects - heady stuff.

 

I learned that many of these decisions were made by the City Planning Department, so I got a job there.  What an expansive learning experience I had for 12 years.  I learned about funding, zoning, the environment, land development, the law, and most importantly politics as well as Politics.

 

I grew a great deal during this period, especially from a career perspective.  By this time I was approaching 40 and still had no wife or kids - but I did purchase a lighthouse, renovated it, and still live in it today with my wife and family - yes on Staten Island!

 

The Vokral Lighthouse (home).

Jack Vokral and Carole Larsenís Wedding, November 19, 1983.

Career-wise I left City employment in 1982, and became self-employed as a consulting engineer.  One of my clients was a real estate developer who liked my work and offered me a job in his firm.  So there I went for another 12 years, primarily building shopping centers all over the northeast.  Again I learned so many new things:  Finance and banking, commercial building design and construction, and property management/rent collection.  And how much the required traveling took me away from my family.

 

Vacations consisted of my family coming to meet me in Pennsylvania, where the work was at that time, and we would eat out a few evenings and spend a day or so at an amusement park - then back to work.

 

Upon the sickness and death of the company owner, I sought a job again with New York City.

 

Thatís what I am doing now - back to sewer and water construction projects.  I run a $300 million annual construction program for all five boroughs in the City.  But I do get to go home every night, have weekends at home, and itís a better life.

 

Carole getting ready to cut Jennyís Confirmation cake.

My wife Carole spent 25 years as a registered psych nurse and then decided to go to law school.  She is now an attorney and practices with a small firm here on Staten Island.

 

Family wise, Carole and I got married late in life, the first marriage for both of us, she at 35 and me at 41.  Jenny Ruth was born in 1986 (now 15) and Eric John in 1988 (now 12) - probably the age of some of your grandchildren!

 

Although hard to keep up with on many occasions, they keep us young and active.  Iím an Assistant Scoutmaster for Ericís Boy Scout Troop, and am trying to teach him tennis (hopefully half as well as Leo Katz taught me).  Iíve been with Jenny on some of her camping and other Girl Scout trips as well.  She has shown an interest in golf and Iíve started to take her to the driving range.  Carole and both kids have been involved in a synchronized swimming program for the last 11 years at the local YMCA.

 

I am finally thinking about retiring - not quite yet - but thinking about it.  With Eric in school for at least another 10 years, we need to keep cash flow going - at least through undergraduate schooling.  Iíve told them both that graduate school is on them.

 

Myself and Jimmy Harkins in our Boy Scout uniforms, 1956.

I hope to see more of these Bioís at The 1960 Trumpet web site.  Werner Feldhaeusser has given us such a great opportunity to get re-acquainted with each other - lets take advantage of it.  And, lets see more pictures!

 

The ďCool Ones.Ē  Left to right, Mike Meade (a year younger and went to Saint Peters), Bill Gallagher (THS '60), myself, and George Graham (THS '60).

       

 

If you would like to send any comments to Jack, please click here: Jack Vokral