By Cristabell Ramdial, ʼ13
As Raymond Albertella, ’62, walked through Plassmann Hall, he felt exactly the same as he had 50 years ago when he was a student at St. Bonaventure. As his tour continued, he stopped to observe a bulletin board. He noticed a tiny sticker at the corner of the board and it immediately captured his attention. He smiled to himself, as a light bulb flickered on above his head.
Albertella’s parents migrated to the United States before he was born. Joining the military after high school seemed like his only option. That was, until his high school counselor told him about St. Bonaventure.
“My counselor knew about the school and told me it’s a great place, so I thought why not,” shared Albertella. “Attending St. Bonaventure happened completely by chance, but I’m so happy that it did.”
While at St. Bonaventure, he was enrolled in the ROTC program, and majored in history with a concentration in Latin American studies.
Albertella graduated as a 2nd Lieutenant in Field Artillery, and went into active duty where he served in Vietnam as an advisor of the Vietnamese 24th special tactical zone. Korea, Vietnam and Germany are just some of the places he toured during active duty. He was put in command of a battalion, and then served, for three years, as an instructor at West Point Military Academy.
“Working with soldiers was the most enjoyable part of my job. I liked doing that so much more than staff work or teaching,” he said. “What I love about the military is that you get what you earn and you are recognized for your hard work.”
He retired from the Army in 1990 as a full colonel.
Albertella, who recently came back to the University for his 50 year reunion recalls one of his favorite things about the university that, even after 50 years, has not changed.
“People still say hello to everyone, even if they don’t know each other,” he said. “I think that’s one of the best things about our school, it’s like a family, and I’m glad that hasn’t changed.”
It was during a visit to the University that Albertella revealed one of his most promising hobbies. While on a tour by the Madam Secretary General of the Model UN club on campus, Leanna Chojnacki, they began talking about the UN, and Albertella mentioned he had been collecting UN stamps since 1969 as a hobby.
“I had hoped to pass the collection down to my children or grandchildren, but none of them ever seemed interested,” Albertella said. “I saw the UN logo on a bulletin board as I was on the tour and started asking questions. Never in my wildest dreams did I think people would be as interested in a stamp collection as me.”
After speaking with Chojnacki, Albertella was convinced that he should donate his collection to the University. His collection consists of events dating from 1951 to1992, and is worth more than $10,000. The collection commemorates special events such as women’s suffrage and child labor. Albertella, who lives in, Rhoadesville Va., even offered to drive his collection to the University.
St. Bonaventure plans to display the rare stamp collection in the Friedsam Memorial Library on UN Day, October 24. Students will also have the opportunity to see the collection on display at The Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts.
The students at St. Bonaventure were one of the many reasons Albertella decided to donate his collection.
“I’ve been to a bunch of other colleges and universities, but at Bonaventure the students are so passionate about everything they do,” said Albertella. “They get so involved too! Whether its community service, sports or clubs, they are always involved in something. It makes me very proud to call myself an alumnus.”
Dr. Ibrahim Zabad, professor in the Department of Political Science and faculty advisor of UN club, said everyone who has seen the collection has been extremely impressed.
“Even if you’re not interested in stamps, there are events in history commemorated in these stamps that are worth seeing, and this collection will be of particular interest to the UN club,” said Zabad.
The University has impressed Albertella so much with its interest in his collection that he has decided to complete the collection by adding stamps from 1992 to present and donating it to the institution.
Albertella’s only regret is, “It’s taken me 50 years to come back to visit, and I’m sorry it took me so long.”