Thanks for the memories, Steve...
Yesterday (Fri.) at lunchtime, Deb and I went through some clothes. Wanted to pick out some nice pants/shirts for next week's AASL conference over in Charlotte, NC. That's the American Association for School Librarians, an event ProQuest < the website I manage, and all of our other like-minded, technology-in-library companies come to exhibit, learn from our customers, and find out what's new.
As I dug into the pocket of an old blazer, I came across this:
Quite possibly one of the oldest business cards from my first professional position outside newspapers (Reading Eagle/Times) and television (WGAL). This card was one of many given freely at, I believe, NECC (National Educators Computing Conference) in 1993.
That mailing address? Tim Wentworth, the funder of Classroom Connect, owns/owned a historic home down a small road behind some manufacturing plants/shops, and we started CC in the upstairs front office space. It got very dark there this time of year in the early evening, as I worked alone on our first newsletters and books, listening to the small creek near the 8-space parking lot babbling nearby under the trees.
Beside the card, in my blazer, was a folded up copy of my grandfather's funeral program, Robert E. Reynolds. Pop-pop.
In a moment, those items and that jacket transported me back 15 years and more, and I sent it out for cleaning and replacement of a very-missing button.
Which brings us to today. I got a FaceBook message this morning from Kevin over at Take One Productions, up in Lancaster, PA. Steve Nosoff, his long-time video production partner (writer/producer) passed away last evening.
I had the opportunity to work with Kevin and Steve on two sets of Internet videos back in the mid-90's. At Classroom Connect. Which was, at first, called Wentworth Worldwide Media, with Classroom Connect as a brand/imprint of the little company.
You see, with Tim Wentworth's money, Greg Giagnocavo's leadership and entrepreneurial spirit, Rem Jackson's sales experience/team, and my hard work as Senior Internet Writer/Product Manager along with many, many young, talented writers, coders, designers, etc. *together* we made Classroom Connect out of nothing into... something truly special. The Amish farming the fields around our Lancaster, PA office had no idea there were T1's running under them.
At Wentworth, after getting the...
- Classroom Connect printed newsletter (original issues) off the ground,
- an infobot (docs via email!),
- email mailing list running (our citation guide was a huge hit),
- plus a few book titles on the shelves and selling well (Educator's Internet Companion and Educator's World Wide Web Tour Guide, anyone?)
...Greg and I got together to scope out a video production: The "Internet Revealed."
I had my degree in Telecom (TV production) from Kutztown University to bring to bear, and was anxious to make it happen. To keep costs down, we'd try me out in front of the camera...
(We'd later circle back to make a second, 4-VHS tape series, "Internet Curriculum Integration.")
I don't recall how we found Take One (I'll bet Tim knew them through his local contacts), but within weeks I was working closely with Kevin and Steve. Both at the Greenfield office park (our first real office, nestled within the Wentworth-Newsletters, Inc. business of Tim's), and at Take One's basement home offices across town.
Steve and I met many times, coming up with the outlines, and then he expertly wrote out the full scripts for each video. He did all the heavy lifting, learning the Internet/how it worked from my experience and articles in our books/newsletters, and quickly turning his new knowledge into sharp scripts. He was a very fast learner, totally professional, and FAST. We were all in sync, had a ton of fun along the way, and made some pretty darn good video to boot.
You may recall that when Deb and I moved into our new home here in Apex, I met a neighbor for the first time. Tyler's a teenager, and at the time was attending the local middle school. I was shocked when he seemed to recognize me -- yep, just that day he'd been "forced" to watch the first video in that series we made back in 1994/1995 -- "The Amazing Internet."
I was stunned -- schools are still showing kids the videos we made from the heady days of Archie, Veronica, Telnet, FTP, Gopher? Yes. Here's another. And another.
I recall one of our guest speakers at one of our national Connected Classroom Conferences (yea, we did it all -- books, videos, binders, CD-ROMs, AND our own conferences for tech-savvy teachers) once said to the effect that any good idea in education takes 50 years to catch on.
Well, with Steve's help at Take One, Tim/Greg/Rem/the content team, Classroom Connect did its part to help get the Internet in Education movement off the ground and moving forward. (Heck it's only been... nearly 15! years! since we made those videos. Plenty of time left to figure out the Net in K-12 education once and for all, right?)
I'd lost contact with Steve in recent years, once Deb and I left PA first for Classroom Connect's sale/relocation to the San Francisco Bay area, then after that went south (content wise), I ended up at bigchalk.com/ProQuest here in NC.
I'd heard that he was sick, Kevin was pressing on with Take One, and that Steve's good days were lessening. He passed last evening. The Internet community, educators all, owe Steve a debt of gratitude for his early contributions to using online technology for teaching and learning.
My best to Steve's family, Kevin, and to everyone who knew this energetic, creative husband, business partner, friend, father, producer, and writer.
Thanks for everything, Steve. We'll miss you buddy.
I plugged in two of the tapes after hearing the news, into our never-used, too-large VHS machine. There was my young, too-large-glasses self sitting in front of an ancient Mac, going for broke. 1995 seems like 100 years ago now... especially in Internet years.
After a few minutes of laughing with William and Deb, we were amazed at how well the videos stand the test of time. The information is still relevant, if a little overly-technical (Steve and I both were excited about how the Net worked/translate that to the screen), and the production values were VERY, very good. A fitting tribute to Kevin's shooting, Steve's writing, and their editor/graphic designers, etc.
Near the front of the "Discovering the World Wide Web" tape, you see me walking into a town square with cars going around the traffic circle around me, as a boom lifts up and away.
I'll never forget that day -- both for the fun of the shoot/location, but also as I waited for Kevin and Steve to show up, I stepped out of my car as their SUV pulled up. Kevin was holding a small TV in his hand, "Tim, you gotta see this."
It was the day of the Oklahoma City bombing, April 19, 1995. We could see the half-collapsed building, no one knew how it had happened. Our first taste of terrorism, domestic it turns out, which most of us next would experience on 9/11.
I was working from my home office that day here in NC, for another Internet in education company -- bigchalk.com funded by ProQuest and partners. But that's another story for another day...
More from Kevin at Take One on a home page post:
Steve had been fighting Multiple Myeloma, a blood cancer and form of Leukemia for the past 7 years. Although there is no cure for Myeloma, Steve was determined to find out everything he could about the disease. Through various trials and tests, Steve fought this disease like no one before him. No matter how the chemotherapy affected him, or the drugs he had to take, Steve always had a positive attitude and laughed about the scenario he was dealt.
In May of 2008, he "retired" from work, because the fine doctors at Johns Hopkins had tried everything they could to treat the Myeloma, but his cancer had reached an all time high. Given only 3 months to live, Steve said goodbye to many of his friends and business associates. As we all prepared for the worst, Steve's spirit was still enduring. Dr. Borrello at Hopkins asked if Steve wanted to try an "experiment" with some drugs. Of course, Steve's positive attitude towards this was an overwhelming "why not?!"
And so, suddenly by September of 2008, his body chemistry changed. It changed at an alarming rate and his doctors were astounded. The talk of using Steve's therapy of drugs as a "trial" for others was discussed and ultimately done. Steve was almost in a remission-esqe type of status with the Myeloma.
Although no one ever thought this was a cure, many thought this might be a TREATMENT for this disease. Because of Steve . . . a door was opened to experiment with these assortment of drugs he was taking.
With an additional year and some months given to Steve, he was able to take a long needed vacation with his wife Joanne and two sons Ethan and Sam.
By September 2009 his blood work was not as positive as it had been. The cancer numbers began to rise again and his blood counts were not good. Things were changing. Steve began to get blood transfusions again due to his weakened condition. His immune system was low or non-existent.
Then, in mid-October he got a cold, a flu . . . whatever you want to call it. As you well know, fighting a cold with an immune system is hard enough. Steve couldn't. He ended up with a 104 degree temperature and his kidneys began to fail.
On October 30th, at 8:25 PM, surrounded by his wife and two boys, Steve passed away at the Weinstein Center at Johns Hopkins Medical Center.
Steve was a business partner that you can only dream of having. His talent, laughter and sense of humor will continue to touch everyone who knew him, even though he is gone.
I miss my friend.
A service in his memory will be held at Keffer Funeral Home at 1 PM on Sunday, November 8th, 2009.
Keffer Funeral Home
902 Mt. Rose Avenue
York, PA 17403
Contributions in his memory may be made to the ....
Multiple Myeloma Research Program
In memory of Steve Nosoff
c/o Dr. Borrello
1630 Orleans St.
CRB-1 Room 453
Baltimore, MD 21231
If you would like to leave condolences, thoughts, prayers or memories for the Nosoff Family you may do so here.