A campus remembers Jacob Vogelman
UB alum loses his life because of hurricane
Jacob Vogelmen, left, a UB alum was killed by a fallen tree during Hurricane Sandy in Brooklyn, his best friend, Jessie Streich-Kest, right, also died in the accident. Courtesy of Facebook
Jacob Vogelman, a UB alum, 24, died on Monday in New York City when a fallen tree crushed him and his best friend, Jessie Streich-Kest. They count for two of the over 70 deaths that have been attributed to Hurricane Sandy.
Vogelman graduated cum laude from UB with a degree in theater design in May 2010. He was continuing his studies at Brooklyn College, where he was working on his master's in lighting design. The UB community remembers the New York City native as a dedicated student - passionate for his craft - who had the ability to make whoever he came in contact with smile.
"I can only imagine all the lives he has touched," said Erin Weaver, a UB graduate and college friend of Vogelman's. "It's just amazing the overwhelming amount of love on his Facebook wall - everybody has a story with him. He was just one of those people who could have a great time with anyone."
Weaver's story with Vogelman started in her freshman year of college. She said he was her first friend at UB. She credits him for helping her navigate young adulthood and campus life because she was a commuter. She said there wasn't a day in her freshman and sophomore years that Vogelman didn't make her smile. Whether he was suggesting going out for pizza, getting their faces painted in the Union or standing on statues - college life with Vogelman was never boring, Weaver said.
Weaver described the friendship as effortless, and while she didn't stay close with him after college, it was always easy for the two to pick back up where they left off.
"You always assume you'll have time to catch up with everyone you've ever met," Weaver said. "It kind of just shows that we'll never have time to do that again."
UB's theatre department remembers Vogelman as brilliant and dedicated behind the scenes of the Center for the Arts' performances.
"He was always the first and last student you saw when walking into the CFA," said Nicole Benoit, a UB graduate who was also a part of UB's theatre community.
Thomas Ralabate, the chair of the department of theatre and dance and artistic director of the Zodiaque Dance Company, worked with Vogelman in 2009. Vogelman was the lighting designer for the company's 36th season fall concert. Ralabate described Vogelman as having a "wonderful directed energy" and said Vogelman loved the production process.
Not even an injury that caused Vogelman to walk with a cane for a while stopped him from working on shows, according to Benoit.
"[The injury] never impeded his agility or spirit - you would still find him in the depths of the jungle of a backstage props/scene closet or working on the grids high above the stages, joyful as always," Benoit said. "Jacob was a truly vivacious spirit and will be missed by anyone whose path he cheerfully crossed."
Sara Genco worked under Vogelman as a sophomore when Vogelman was the lighting designer for the Zodiaque Dance Company; she was amazed with his talent. She said his set design of the department of theater and dance's production of Chekov's "The Cherry Orchard," was the most stunning she saw in her four years at the university.
But Vogelman was more than just talented - he cared a lot about people. Genco remembers during Spring Fest 2009 - when all the theater design and technology students were working with the CFA staff to help run the show - Vogelman was working hospitality.
"He ran around for 48 hours straight making sure everyone was staying hydrated," Genco said. "'Juicebox? Juicebox?' he would ask. For the rest of the time I knew him, everyone endearingly called him Juicebox, and he wore the name proudly."
Genco is saddened Vogelman won't be able to live out his potential as a set and lighting designer.
"You wouldn't believe how talented this kid was," she said.
Jessie Streich-Kest, who died with Vogelman, was a long-time friend; the two went to middle school together. They were taking her dog Max out and were then struck by an uprooted tree in the Ditmas Park area of Brooklyn. They were discovered Tuesday morning by NYPD, after the police received calls from neighbors. The dog survived the accident.
Weaver found the whole storm devastating and said her heart goes out to all those affected by the hurricane - but her heart especially goes out to Vogelman's family.
"They raised a great young man," Weaver said. "I know from my own brief time with him, he touched my life."
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