NISKAYUNA -- Retired Niskayuna English teacher Thomas Flood was remembered Friday by former students as an approachable teacher with a gift for making them care about school.
Flood died Thursday after falling off a floating tube in a Vermont lake, according to Vermont State Police.
"I remember Mr. Flood as a very down-to-earth person, even as a teacher," said Portia Zwicker, who graduated from Niskayuna in 1998. "When I worked at the high school a few years after graduation, I remember him insisting that I call him by his first name. Although I haven’t seen him since then, we always had great banter on Facebook."
Flood, 61, of Schenectady, was recovered from Lake St. Catherine at about 3:20 p.m. on Friday in about 50 feet of water by searchers using sonar, a police spokesman said.
Police said Flood and his wife were boating on the lake, located about 4 miles northwest of Granville in Washington County, New York, when they stopped to float in inner tubes tied to the boat. Flood fell out of his tube and was not wearing a flotation device, police said.
Conditions were windy and choppy when police were called to the lake at around 3 p.m., according to police.
Multiple agencies, including divers from two New York state agencies, searched into Thursday evening but suspended the effort at about 7:30 p.m. Thursday. The Vermont State Police Dive Team resumed the search Friday morning.
In addition to state police, responding agencies included the Poultney Fire Department and the Wells Fire Department. New York first responders included the Corinth Fire Department Dive Team, the South Glens Falls Dive Team, and the Washington County Department of Public Safety.
Susan Rella, another former student from the class of 1997, said Flood had a particular talent for "making a lot of apathetic teens care about art," even in an often fractured and stratified high school social scene.
"He taught in a way that appealed to everyone," Rella said. "The nerds loved him. The jocks loved him. He, somehow, was able to make us bratty teenagers care -- while still maintaining his cool, jaded, sarcastic persona. He made smart seem cool. And deep down, he was all heart, and all he ever wanted was for his students to feel like successes."