Dottie Samonisky retirement party

Bill Dennison ·
26 December 2018

Dottie Samonisky at her retirement party. Photo credit: Sky Swanson.

After 12 years of working with the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES), Dorothy "Dottie" Bradford Samonisky decided to retire at the end of the calendar year. Dottie was a powerful force at UMCES, and she helped make the Integration and Application Network (IAN) functional and fun. We held her retirement party at Annie's Paramount Steak and Seafood House on Kent Narrows. Dottie's retirement party was attended by people from UMCES Center Administration, IAN bathhouse folks, IAN Annapolis folks, and people from the UMCES @ Chesapeake Bay Program. Dottie's daughter Ashley also attended and it was great to see some former UMCES people as well.

Since I spend much of my working life driving around the state of Maryland, or flying around the world, Dottie was my constant, my lifeline that kept me sane. I would call her regularly and it was nice to have someone to share my trials and tribulations and we always had a few laughs. Upon returning from my travels, Dottie would take a disorganized pile of random receipts and make sense of them. She also insured that I had a reservation on a train, bus, plane, or automobile and a place to sleep at night. Dottie produced regular internal weekly newsletters for IAN and was the maternal figure for many of the younger staff. I feel as though Dottie provided the glue for our ragtag group.

Bill Dennison and Dottie Samonisky at her retirement party. Photo credit: Sky Swanson.

On reflecting what Dottie meant to me, I decided that more than anything else, Dottie was a great friend. So I adapted the Randy Newman song "You've Got a Friend in Me" to the following:

You've Got a Friend in Me
3 Dec 2018
William C. Dennison

You've got a friend in me
When the road looks rough ahead
And you're miles and miles from your nice warm bed
You just remember what Dottie said
Boy, you've got a friend in me
Yeah, you've got a friend in me

You've got a friend in me
You got troubles, and I got them too
There isn't anything I wouldn't do for you
We stick together, we can see it through
'Cause you've got a friend in me
Yeah, you've got a friend in me

Some other folks might be a little bit smarter than I am
Bigger and stronger too
But none of them will ever love you
The way I do
It's me and you, Dottie

And as the years go by
Our friendship will never die
You're gonna see it's our destiny
You've got a friend in me
You've got a friend in me.

Dottie received many gifts and we also took a group photo and signed the frame matte so that Dottie could have a nice memory of her UMCES friends and colleagues. We had TWO cakes, a reflection of the special nature of Dottie.

Ken Barton presenting Dottie Samonisky the framed and signed group photo from her retirement party. Photo credit: Bill Dennison.
Ken Barton presenting Dottie Samonisky the framed and signed group photo from her retirement party. Photo credit: Bill Dennison.
Retirement party cake. Photo credit: Sky Swanson.

I solicited input from former IAN folks and they sent in some wonderful tributes about Dottie that we read at her party. We also put on a short play in Dottie's honor, since the story of a girl named Dorothy and her little dog who wanted to go home to retire was eerily similar to the story of the Wizard of Oz with Dorothy and her little dog trying to get back to Kansas. The script for the play is as follows:

The Wizard of IAN
3 Dec 2018
William C. Dennison

Dorothy Bradford (herself)
Gidget (herself)
Good Witch Erica: Erica Kropp
Brainless Sailor: Ken Barton
Heartless Accountant: Trish Summers
Cowardly Scientist: Heath Kelsey
Humbug Wizard of IAN: Bill Dennison
Flying Monkey: Dave Nemazie
Good Witch Lynn: Lynn Rehn
Good Witch Lisa: Lisa Ross

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Dorothy Bradford who was born in a far away place but came to live in Cambridge Maryland where her family had been for many generations. She and her little dog Gidget lived on Whitehall Road. Dorothy worked in Oxford Maryland but she dreamt of something else. Dorothy wandered out into her yard and sang:

"Somewhere within the UMCES way up high
There's a group that I heard of once in a lullaby
Somewhere within the UMCES IAN was formed
And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true

Someday I wished upon a star
And woke up where the clouds were far
Behind me
I made troubles melt like lemon drops
Away above the UMCES labs
That's where you'll find me

Somewhere within the UMCES hummingbirds fly
Birds fly over the rainbow.
Why then, oh, why can't I?

If happy little hummingbirds fly
Beyond the rainbow.
Why, oh, why can't I?"

So Dorothy and Gidget showed up to the DuPont House and learned that she had crash landed on a wicked witch. Dorothy felt terrible until the Good Witch Erica told her that she could work for IAN of UMCES if she could get the Wizard of IAN to agree. So Dorothy asked the munchkins of the DuPont House how she could find IAN. They told her:

"Follow the Red Brick Path. Follow the Red Brick Path.
Follow, follow, follow, follow,
Follow the Red Brick Path.
Follow the Red Brick, Follow the Red Brick,
Follow the Red Brick Path."

So Dorothy sang:

"We're off to see the Wizard, The Wonderful Wizard of IAN.
You'll find he is a whiz of a Wiz! If ever a Wiz! there was.
If ever oh ever a Wiz! there was The Wizard of IAN is one because,
Because, because, because, because, because.
Because of the wonderful things he does.
We're off to see the Wizard. The Wonderful Wizard of IAN."

So Dorothy and Gidget set off on the Red Brick Path until she came across a sailor named Ken. Ken sang:

"I could while away the hours
Conferrin' with the flowers,
Consulting with the rain;
And my head I'd be a scratchin'
While my thoughts are busy hatchin'
If I only had a brain.

I'd unravel ev'ry riddle for my
In trouble or in pain
With the thoughts that you'll be thinkin'
You could be another Lincoln
If you only had a brain.

Oh, I, could tell you why
The oceans near the shore
I could think of things I'd never
Thunk before,
And then I'd sit down and think some more.
I would not be just a muffin',
My head all full of stuffin',
My heart all full of pain;
And perhaps I'd deserve you and be
Even worthy even you
If I only had a brain."

Dorothy Gidget and Ken set off down the Red Brick Path until they met a heartless accountant who crunched numbers named Trish. Trish sang:

"When a woman's an empty kettle she should be on her mettle,
And yet I'm torn apart.
Just because I'm presumin' that I could be kind-a-human,
If I only had a heart
I'd be tender - I'd be gentle and awful sentimental
Regarding love and art.
I'd be friends with the sparrows ... and the boys who shoots the arrows
If I only had a heart.
Picture me - a balcony. Above a voice sings low.
Wherefore art thou, Romeo?
I hear a beat....How sweet.
Just to register emotion, jealousy - devotion,
And really feel the part.
I could stay young and chipper and I'd lock it with a zipper, If I only had a heart."

Dorothy, Gidget and Ken convinced Trish to travel with them to The land of IAN and they set off down the Red Brick Path. They ran into a scientist cowering in the bathhouse named Heath. Heath sang:

"If I Were King Of The IAN not queen, not duke, not prince.
My regal robes of UMCES would be satin, not cotton, not chintz.
I'd command each thing, be it fish or fowl, with a woof and a woof, and a royal

As I'd click my heel all the Integrators would kneel and the Communicators bow and the
Interns kowtow
And the UMCES would take wing, if I were king."

So now this troop of Dorothy, Gidget, Ken, Trish, and Heath went to find the Wizard of IAN. They had many adventures in the way to the land of IAN and when they finally found the Great and Powerful Oz, he told them to go make IAN sustainable, knowing that was impossible. But Dorothy and her little band of travelers set off to do just that.

They went to the castle of UMCES and figured out a way to make IAN sustainable, enlisting the Good Witch Lynn, and she was able to get her flying monkey Dave to help. So they went back to find the Wizard of IAN and he was huffing and puffing and saying IAN is not sustainable, when Gidget pulled back the curtain and all could see that Bill was just a Humbug. Dorothy told the Humbug that she just wanted to go home, that Ken wanted a brain, Trish wanted a heart and Heath wanted some courage.

The Humbug gave Ken an honorary PhD which made him feel smart, gave Trish a chocolate heart which made her feel sweet, and gave Heath the medal of IAN Director which gave him lots of courage. "But what about me?" said Dorothy. This is when the good witch Lisa came in and said that all Dorothy needed to do was to click her heels three times and say "There's no place like home, There's no place like home, There's no place like home". And sure enough, Dorothy was transported back to Whitehall Rd. where she could live happily ever after.

And now, Dorothy, look around you and remember the most important thing she learned on her journey to IAN: "A heart is not judged by how much you love; but by how much you are loved by others."

Group photo at Dottie’s retirement party.

About the author

Bill Dennison

Dr. Bill Dennison is a Professor of Marine Science and Vice President for Science Application at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES). Dr. Dennison’s primary mission within UMCES is to coordinate the Integration and Application Network.

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