Molloy College - Alumni of the Month


John J. Vander-Putten, B.A.


November 2006

John J. Vander-Putten, B.A.

Business – Class of 1992

John 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 now
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 Lupus Walk.

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 Aurora.

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.