Landis Portraits: Vince DeSantis

By Nolan Marciniec

Vincent DeSantis

Vincent DeSantis finally got to the Arboretum this year – with a little help from his friends, as the Beatles sang.

Several years ago, Vince was Gloversville City Court judge, and a friend on the City Council told him about an arboretum in Esperance. Vince put it on the list. Another friend told him about the plant sales. A visit moved up on the list. Finally, still another friend persuaded him to come with him early this past spring and work in the propagation room. He agreed. He spent a few hours transplanting seedlings in the company of a few other volunteers. He signed up for membership that same day.

What most impressed him, he said, was the “incredible ambition” of those volunteers and their “dedication to a cause.” That experience was reinforced later in the spring when he volunteered to help set up for the plant sale. That day he encountered “friendly people . . . with the same mindset . . . . a belief in the idea of an arboretum and . . . . its huge potential,” all of which impressed him and convinced him that the Arboretum was well worth a visit – and much more.

He was always interested in gardening. Some of his earliest memories are of his grandmother’s backyard vegetable garden. As a child, he said, he felt that “there was something almost ‘supernatural,’ almost a miracle” in the natural cycle. The feeling that “that seed holds the promise of life” awed him as a child and, he admits, never really left him, nor has that sense of our human responsibility in “nurturing living things.”

Vince took a leading role in establishing Gloversville’s first community garden in 2010, working with the Gloversville Housing and Neighborhood Improvement Corps (GHNIC).

While Vince was still in high school, the Kennedy presidency instilled in him the ideals of public service. After studying the liberal arts at CW Post College, he entered law school at St. John’s University. His law studies were interrupted by the draft, and he spent two years stationed with the army in Germany. He completed his law degree, and practiced law in Gloversville, also serving as an assistant district attorney, until he was elected city court judge in 1993, a position from which he retired in 2012.

Then he spent the year working on organic farms in Italy and France through WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms).

Public service and nature are still high on Vince’s agenda. Besides his role in the community garden, he is an active volunteer at the Mohawk Harvest Cooperative Market, as well as the GHNIC. He was elected to the Gloversville City Council in 2015.

His experience volunteering at the Arboretum showed him that “there is serious work to be done [at Landis] for people of all ages.” He’ll be back for other events too.

And no doubt he will introduce others to the Arboretum. “For a population disconnected from nature,” he said, Landis offers them “an introduction to the natural world – in a hands-on, visual sense . . . . There is something spiritual, healing, about being surrounded by nature, but [at the Arboretum] there is an intellectual element besides.”

Like many people, visiting Landis was something he always meant to do. Old friends brought him here. New friends will keep him here.

Fall 2018

Volume 36 , Number 4

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