John J. Vander-Putten, B.A.
Business – Class of 1992
J. Vander-Putten, ’92 is a retired Internal Auditor for the Bank of
New York. Soon after receiving his degree from Molloy, he was promoted
to Vice President and held that title until his retirement in 2001. At
that time, John was the Chief Trust Auditor of the bank.
Just prior to retiring, John and his family learned that their
granddaughter, Carole-Anne Bonner - who was eleven at the time - had
been diagnosed with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE). This is a
chronic life-threatening auto-immune disease in which the body’s
immune system, instead of performing only its normal protective
functions, forms antibodies that attack healthy tissues and organs
causing inflammation and pain. There is no cure for Lupus. Lupus can
affect any organ in the body including lungs, kidneys, heart, brain,
blood vessels and joints. If left untreated, these organs can be
destroyed and the patient can die. Even when treated, many patients
suffer organ damage, which affects their quality of life and can also
lead to death.
John accelerated his retirement date, and he and his wife Pat set
about learning all there was to know about Lupus and its treatment. This
led them to get involved with The Lupus Alliance of America, Long
Island/Queens Affiliate located in Bellmore. This is a non-profit,
voluntary health organization, dedicated to improving the quality of
life for those afflicted with Lupus and Lupus-related diseases. Their
mission is, “To Serve, Educate and find the Cause and Cure for those
Affected by Lupus”. During much of the next three years, John spent a
good deal of his time taking Carole-Anne to various doctors, sometimes
on a weekly basis. He also stayed with her at Schneider Children’s
Hospital for one weekend a month during that three-year period while
Carole-Anne received chemotherapy to prevent the damage that Lupus was
doing to her kidneys.
John and Pat’s involvement has also included volunteering their
time to the Alliance, helping to raise funds for research and support,
participating in seminars and other educational forums to raise
awareness of Lupus and its effects. In December of 2005, John was
elected to the Board of Directors of the Long Island/Queens Affiliate
and considers this one of the most important missions of his life.
Describe your life choices and how you arrived at what you are doing
Like most people, some of life’s choices were thrust upon me,
others were my decision. I was drafted into the Army in 1966 and spent
two years as a Military Policeman including a one-year tour of duty in
Viet Nam. When I got out, I married and soon my wife and I were
expecting. My father-in-law was a New York State Bank Examiner and he
inspired me to go into banking as a caree. The rest, as they say, is
history. The decision to go to Molloy College at night and get my
business degree was inspired by my daughter Dawn who was just entering
Molloy as a freshman in the Music Department on a full academic
scholarship. Dawn graduated from Molloy in 1990 and her husband Basil
had graduated a few years earlier. I graduated from Molloy College in
1992 after six hard years of night school. My choice to join the Board
of the Lupus Alliance was an easy choice, driven by my desire to see
this terrible disease eradicated.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
That would have to be the progress I see in basic research into the
cause and cure of Lupus and my ability, along with the other Board
members, to raise funds and see that they are put to the best possible
use, as with the more than $200,000 raised this October at the annual
Who are your role models?
Over the years I have had many role models. An uncle whose eccentric
genius always inspired me; my father who had to raise me, my brother and
my two sisters by himself when my mother died unexpectedly when I was
10; my wife who in spite of her own medical problems and physical
limitations manages to keep this family together with love and respect
for one another; my daughter Jill (Carole-Anne’s mother) who works for
the Lupus Alliance and who is a tireless advocate for her daughter and
for all who suffer from Lupus; and my granddaughter Carole-Anne who in
spite of this terrible disease, goes through life with a smile on her
face, and never feels sorry for herself and who is the bravest person I
have ever met. Now, she continues to inspire me with her decision to
apply to Molloy College as a Math major with future aspirations to
becoming a Math teacher.
How do you balance work and life?
A long time ago I learned the one great secret of life and that is the
importance of family. No matter what I do, I make sure that there is
always time for them: for my wife Pat, my two daughters Dawn and Jill,
and my four wonderful grandchildren Carole-Anne, Luke, Jonathan and
What advice would you give to current students?
This seems like such an easy question to ask but it is a very difficult
one to answer. I can only repeat what I told everyone who ever worked
for me in my 34 years with the Bank of New York: Never be afraid to
learn from others; never be hesitant to share your knowledge and
experience with others; and always remember, many people will be there
for you through the years, loved ones and friends, instructors, bosses,
co-workers. Their help will be important, but the one person who has the
primary responsibility to assist you in whatever your endeavors are is
YOU. It is your responsibility to be the best YOU that you can be.