Charlie and Marie Egnasko, who between them have worked at SVA for 77 years, are retiring at the end of December. Charlie is the coordinator of building and grounds for the physical plant office and Marie is the office manager for student accounts (she has been with SVA for 41½ years, longer than anyone else except founder and chairman Silas Rhodes). On November 26 the departing couple was honored at the restaurant iTrulli with an emotional celebration. The evening included a light-hearted slideshow (“Charlie and Marie: A History of SVA”) by visual pranksters Marshall Arisman and Richard Wilde, and tributes from each of the Rhodes.
One by one the Rhodes triumvirate held forth at the podium, a rare occurrence that heightened the singular event. Their remarks combined for an outpouring of warm sentiment for a couple whom SVA embraced, and who in turn embraced SVA. “Charlie, Marie, for your service, loyalty, ability to stay above the fray–you are what helped build SVA,” said Tony Rhodes. “Their enthusiasm never waned,” said Silas Rhodes. “They gloried in the great changes produced by David and Tony. In short, their devotion is the bedrock on which this institution stands.”
When Charlie and Marie started at SVA it was a much different place-smaller, more intimate-familial even. The College has changed with the times and blossomed into an international powerhouse, but growth inevitably runs roughshod over the old ways and some of the charms of the past fade into oblivion. In many ways, Charlie and Marie embody what SVA was before. Yet because they did not fight change but adapted to it, they also embody a fundamental strength of the College: it’s symbiosis of tradition and innovation.
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Loyalty and devotion of the sort that defined Charlie and Marie’s tenure at SVA is practically unheard of today. But their shining example, their link with the “old school” is not about to disappear with their retirement. So, while they may be gone from SVA in body, their spirit will remain.