A man who graduated from Mont Pleasant High School in 1975 will be held up as example Friday of what Schenectady’s latest graduates could become.
Lee Wasserman, who will speak at Friday’s graduation, will be inducted into the Schenectady City School District Hall of Fame for his lifelong efforts to protect the environment.
“It’s incredible, as far as helping out in society. He’s done some amazing things,” said Hall of Fame Committee Chairman Jerry Rosen.
Harold Chestnut, who graduated from Nott Terrace High School in 1935, will be inducted posthumously.
“Both of them, their applications were unbelievable. Harold Chestnut, it was incredible, all the accomplishments he fit into his lifetime,” Rosen said. “These are homegrown people. It’s really cool for the kids to see. Wasserman grew up in their neighborhood.”
Wasserman graduated from Union College and then earned a law degree from Albany Law School.
He became executive director of Environmental Advocates of New York, and was a key contributor to the development of the Environmental Protection Fund. That fund has raised more than $1 billion to protect New York’s state land and water.
He helped write and pass many pieces of legislation to protect the environment, including the Lead Poisoning Prevention Act.
In 1999, he was appointed Director of the Rockefeller Family Fund. He now works with national and state officials to develop solutions to environmental problems and other issues, including voter rights.
Chestnut graduated from MIT, where he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering.
He worked at General Electric Co. for his entire career, where he was able to work on U.S. fighter planes during World War II. The engineering and project innovations his department created have been credited with shortening the war.
After the war, he worked on the Apollo space project. He led groups on automatic control and information systems.
He finished his career as a research and development consultant on systems engineering.
In 1957, Chestnut became the founding president of the International Federation of Automatic Control, which focused on developing mechanization and automation of machines. To reach scientists behind the Iron Curtain, the group organized as a federation of national member organizations, which was acceptable to the Soviet Union.
He was also active in Schenectady, where he helped lead a campaign for a new high school. Linton High School was built in response to that effort.
He was also president of the First Unitarian Society of Schenectady, and he served on the board of the Schenectady YMCA.