Dr. Spenser Bruce Rohrlick (Capt. Spense), 81, of New Paltz, passed away on Wednesday, April 14, 2021, at his home in New Paltz, New York.
Born August 15, 1939, in Hartford, Connecticut, he was the son of the late Allie and Francis (Goldstein) Rohrlick. He was a US Navy veteran and proudly served on the Aircraft Carrier USS Forrestal from 1957 to 1960 as an Aviation Electronics Technician-3rd Class Petty Officer. During his tour of service, Spense was stationed on the island of Malta and Sicily. He met Doris Jane Strauss while serving in the Navy. They married on August 23, 1964, in Great Neck, NY. They shared a wonderful life together, first in Syracuse, NY, and then in New Paltz, NY, where they raised their growing family and lived together for the last 56 years.
Spense graduated from Central Connecticut State College (now University) with a Bachelor’s degree in Education. He was admitted to Syracuse University as a Mid-Career fellow and received his Master’s Degree in Audio Visual Communication. He proudly completed his Ph.D. in Instructional Technology from Syracuse University in the early 1970’s.
An expert in teaching with technology, Spense led the audio/visual department at SUNY New Paltz. He then became the Director of Instructional Technology at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), where under his leadership, the department received many important awards. Spense was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship in 1979 and worked with faculty and staff at Simon Bolivar University in Caracas, Venezuela, where he enjoyed every opportunity to perfect his Spanish-speaking skills. Doris and his three sons were brought along for the journey, and the whole family has many incredible memories of Caracas, from walking to the local mercados, sitting pool-side with local expats, and sharing cheese and beef arepas with many friendly neighbors.
After a brief stint with IBM in the 1980s, he started his own company, Arrow Advertising, with his brother Howard Rohrlick and with the help of his brother-in-law, Robert Strauss. During this same period, he became a private boat Captain and started Spenser Yachts. It took a literal act of congress for him to charter his beloved Trawler, “R Adventure”. Navigating the scenic Hudson, Capt. Spense and his larger-than-life personality shared Hudson River lore, boating stories, and local river history with guests aboard his vessel. Spenser’s love of boating was a continuous thread for his entire adult life. He boated on the Hudson River for more than 50 years and was a member emeritus of the Hidden Harbor Yacht Club (HHYC) in Port Ewen, New York. Spense, Dori, and their boys spent years as part of the HHYC community, working on special 4th of July events from manning the breakfast griddle to leading the annual club raffle drive. Spense served as Commodore of the club in the 2000s, a rare honor. Vacationing North along the Hudson River to Lake Champlain and Burlington, Vermont, was a yearly highlight for the Rohrlick family — enough for a lifetime of amazing memories.
Spense was very active in the Jewish Congregation of New Paltz and served on the board of directors. As the fundraising committee’s co-chair for over 40 years, he led many successful fundraising drives, providing a mitzvah for the many good works of the New Paltz Jewish Community.
Family and friends meant everything to Spense and his beautiful wife, Dori. They spent their years together entertaining, traveling, and kibitzing with their friends, basking in the love and sustenance that only lifelong friendships can nourish. Together they actively supported their youngest son Keith as he grew his nutrition bar company, NuGo, into a national powerhouse over the past 25 years. Spense and Dori were also extremely proud of their oldest son David, who has worked for American Airlines for more than 30 years and recently completed his dream to fly his own airplane after six years of building the plane from a kit in his garage. Spense was his middle son Jeffreys #1 fan and supported him in all his varied pursuits – from his mild but growing obsession with Horology and his government and corporate training company JAG Global Learning.
Survivors include his wife, Doris Rohrlick of New Paltz, NY; son, David Rohrlick of Columbus, OH; daughter-in-law Theresa Reinhard; son, Jeffrey Rohrlick of Gaithersburg, MD; daughter-in-law Debra Cenziper; son, Keith Rohrlick of Walnut Creek, CA; daughter-in-law Jennifer (Malloy) Rohrlick; older brother, Myles Rohrlick of Wilmington, NC; grandson, Jonathan Rohrlick of Hillard, Ohio; granddaughter, Sara Rohrlick of Napoleon, Ohio; granddaughter, Amanda Rohrlick of Worthington, OH; granddaughter, MadisonRohrlick of Walnut, Creek, CA; granddaughter, Lucy Rohrlick of Walnut Creek, CA; great-granddaughter, Rain Rohrlick, of Hillard, OH; great-grandson, Bear Rohrlick of Hillard, OH.
Spense is preceded in death by his parents Allie and Frances Rohrlick of Hartford, CT, and his beloved older brother Howard Rohrlick, of West Hartford, CT.
Services will be held at Copeland-Hammerl Funeral Home. The service will start at 10:30 am,. with Rabbi Stogin officiating, followed by burial at the New Paltz Rural Cemetery with full military honors. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to The Jewish Congregation of New Paltz, 30 N Chestnut St, New Paltz, NY 12561.
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