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EASY Chair with Spike Lobdell on Wednesday, February 10, 2021. Harold Hanka, The Westerly Sun

AGE: 63.

OCCUPATION:  Founder, president and CEO of the New England Science & Sailing Foundation (NESS).

RESIDENCE: Mystic.

BORN, RAISED & GREW UP IN: Rumson, N.J.

RIGHT NOW I’M IN THE MIDDLE OF: This interview ... but also, managing through the pandemic and thinking about the summer.

I AM COPING WITH LIFE IN THE AGE OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC BY: Staying optimistic and making sure to be very cautious. My average day has 8 zoom meetings. I am proud of the way NESS has worked through the pandemic and is meeting the needs of our students. I think we will be stronger when the pandemic passes. Zoom has also allowed me to connect with friends that I have not seen in years.

MY PROUDEST ACCOMPLISHMENT: I am fortunate to have accomplished a number of things. However, I am particularly proud of creating opportunities for individuals of all ages to get out on the water to learn and have fun. Many of these students never had access to the water before. The water has been transformational in my life and I hope to give others the same opportunity.

TOP ON MY BUCKET LIST:  Traveling to New Zealand. I’ve always wanted to tour and sail there.

I ALWAYS CARRY:  In my wallet, I have a picture of my kids when they were very young (guess I should update them) and a tiny piece of cloth that is for good luck.

MY HEROES ARE: I've had many, John Glenn to start. Even Popeye — I know that sounds crazy but my mother drew Olive Oil for the cartoon. I have the utmost respect for many heroes that make everyday life possible, especially during this pandemic. I also have a special place in my heart for those who overcome fears to do something for the first time, now recognizing that "they can" and grow from that experience. This is a key part of NESS’s mission.

FAVORITE AUTHORS: James Patterson for fun reading. Perhaps Francis Church, the editor of the Chicago Sun Times in 1897, has had the biggest impact on me. He wrote “Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus." It is the most widely copied editorial of all time, where he answers the ultimate and most perplexing question for young children everywhere. Read it today. The world needs a little more of this perspective.

BOOKS ON MY NIGHT STAND: "Building a Story Brand" by Donald Miller, “A Warning” by Anonymous.

FAVORITE HOBBIES: I have a number; recently I've taken up painting. My ‘Easy Chair’ picture was taken in my studio which I created in my garage. It is a wonderful way to relax and escape the everyday pressures we all experience. I am very fortunate that I have been able to sell some of my work!!! I make more money as an artist than I do at NESS (where I am a full-time volunteer).

TOP THREE SONGS ON MY PLAYLIST:  I am a Phil Collins fan, so virtually any of his songs. “You’ll be in My Heart” has special meaning as that was the song my daughter and I danced to at her wedding.

LAST THREE SONGS I SELECTED ON SPOTIFY:  What is Spotify? Just kidding, but that reflects my use of that service.

FAVORITE THREE MOVIES OF ALL TIME: : “Sound of Music,” “American President,” and “Rocky.”

FAVORITE TV SHOWS: Growing up I would have said “I Love Lucy” (I am a red head) and the “Flintstones.” I am still really good at Flintstone trivia. Now I would say “NCIS” and “Meet the Press.”

FAVORITE RADIO STATION/SHOWS: WFAN out of New York City. I am still trying to keep up with my New York sports teams. Very difficult in this part of Connecticut.

TOP COMFORT FOOD: Tuna melt.

SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES I USE MOSTLY: Like the Spotify answer, this is a difficult one because I’m not really big on social media. I guess I look at Facebook to keep up with friends and I am learning how to use Instagram now that I’m a grandfather!!!!

TRAITS I MOST ADMIRE:  Honesty and integrity, perseverance, sense of humor and the ability to relate to, and understand, all different type of people.

PET PEEVES:  Drivers when making a left-hand turn who don’t pull over enough to the left side to allow you to pass on the right.

FAVORITE QUOTATION:  "Don’t part with your illusions, for if you do you may still exist, but have ceased to live." This is from Mark Twain. I think it frames my sense of optimism of more than the “glass half-full” mentality.

MY FAVORITE THING ABOUT OUR LITTLE CORNER OF THE WORLD: People and access to the water.

CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT:  My family and friends.

LITTLE KNOWN FACT ABOUT ME: I was one of the few people, many years back, who knew how the Mars Company imprinted the M&M logo on each individual M&M piece.

BEST ADVICE I EVER RECEIVED:  I was a lacrosse goalie in college. As I was getting prepared for a big game my coach told me: “Offense sells tickets. Defense wins ball games. Goalies win championships!! Go be a champion today!!!”

ADVICE I BEST LIKE TO GIVE: It’s not original, but: “Make your bed as soon as you wake up every morning. Then you can say you have at least one accomplishment for the day. Upwards from there!”

IF I RULED THE WORLD I WOULD:  Find a way to have our global population find strength in our diversity to live in peace and work together to steward our planet.

IF I WON THE LOTTERY, THE FIRST THING I WOULD DO IS: Invest in education. As president of a nonprofit, I would certainly help NESS move forward. More importantly, I believe education is the catalyst for curing so many things that are problems in the world. I would want to make that a huge commitment.

I DRIVE A: Silver 2018 BMW 640(I)

I WISH I DROVE A: The same car. I’ve had BMWs for years and this one is my favorite of all time.

ALWAYS IN MY FRIDGE:  Orange juice.

IF I COULD INVITE ONE SPECIAL PERSON TO JOIN ME FOR DINNER AND CONVERSATION, I WOULD INVITE:  John Adams. I am a direct descendant. I would like to hear his story in his own voice. I would also like to have dinner around the kitchen table with my long-deceased parents to ask those questions that I thought I understood decades ago, but really didn’t!!!

— Interview arranged and edited by Nancy Burns-Fusaro

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