Twas the Weeks Before Christmas: Saying Goodbye to Nick DiPasquale

Bill Dennison ·
22 December 2017

Nick DiPasquale, who served as the Chesapeake Bay Program Director for the past six and a half years, retired December 31st, 2017. Following retirement, Nick will be living in Chestertown, Maryland. He has promised to stay active and vocal regarding Chesapeake Bay issues. In fact, Nick’s last few talks have been very candid and heartfelt. The one word that Jim Edward, Nick’s long serving Deputy Director, used to describe Nick was “passionate.” I concur with Jim, as Nick has used his passion to become a true Chesapeake champion. The good news about Nick’s retirement is the strong bench that he has at the Chesapeake Bay Program, so I anticipate little disruption to the progress made during his eventful tenure.

Nick DiPasquale at the 2016 Chesapeake report card release. Maryland Senator Ben Cardin is listening.

The biggest accomplishment during Nick’s tenure is the 2014 Chesapeake Watershed Agreement. This agreement provides for short term goals, includes diversity and stewardship goals and embraces the incorporation of climate change into Bay restoration. Furthermore, Nick leaves the Chesapeake Bay Program during the time when the last several annual report cards are reporting improving ecosystem health in the Chesapeake Bay. Clearly the Chesapeake Bay has benefited from Nick DiPasquale’s leadership.

Nick speaking at the Chesapeake 2011 Report Card Release.

We had a gathering following Nick’s final Management Board meeting in the “Fish Shack,” a conference room on the Chesapeake Bay Program campus. Many people gave speeches in Nick's honor and he received some very nice gifts, including a hand painted watercolor of his office view of Spa Creek. The former Chesapeake Bay Program Director, Bill Matuszeski, snuck into Nick’s office and painted it while Nick was traveling. This gesture was both beautiful and thoughtful.  Al Todd, former Executive Director of the Alliance for Chesapeake Bay, made the comment that Nick was “brackish.” Brackish water contains a blend of fresh and salt water. Nick has a background in freshwater systems from his time in Pennsylvania and Delaware, and in ocean water from his time at the Chesapeake Bay Program based in Annapolis. Thus, the word seemed an appropriate descriptor for him.

I read my adapted version of Clement Clark Moore's classic poem at the gathering. The reindeer mentioned are the following Chesapeake Bay Program staff: Jim Edward, Rich Batiuk, Carin Bisland, Kristin Saunders, Gary and Kelly Shenk, Peter and Sally Claggett, Lewis Linker and Greg Barranco.

Nick DiPasquale at retirement party.

‘Twas the Weeks Before Christmas

7 December 2017

William C. Dennison

'Twas the weeks before Christmas, when all around the fish shack
Not a boat was stirring, not even a skipjack;
The management board presentations with made with great care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The oysters were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of seagrasses danced in their heads;
And Nick in his chair, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap,
When out on the Bay there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my seat to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The sun on the Naval Academy was aglow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a magnificent spread and even some beer,
With an amazing leader, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
To the top of the watershed! to the mouth of the Bay!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away if you may!"
So up to Pennsylvania the coursers they flew,
With the car full of grants, and St. Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the radio
That a watershed agreement was signed, what a good show
As I checked my emails, and was turning around,
It was in fact St. Nicholas who came with a bound.
His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the shine of his scalp was as white as the snow;
He had a broad face and not much of a belly,
But it shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.
He was not chubby or plump, but was a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
St. Nick certainly liked his wine, preferably red;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
He got a lot done and he did it without being a jerk
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, he showed us what a Chestertown retiree knows;
He sprang to his feet, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he really let it fly,
Happy Brackish to all, and to all a Goodbye!

Nick DiPasquale at his retirement party with a gag gift.

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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  • Nick DiPasquale 5 years ago

    Thanks Bill. One minor correction on the caption for the last photo - that's not a gag gift. That will definitely come in handy at receptions and celebration! Thanks for your kind words. I'll be seeing you around "the shed". Best, Nick

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