Marty McGuire Museum Opens at Environmental Center

  Marty McGuire Museum

Dean Nira Herrmann and benefactor Lucy Waletzky MD admire the new exhibition space.

The Marty McGuire Museum opened on April 25 at the Environmental Center on Pace University’s Pleasantville Campus as a tribute to the environmental studies alumnus for which it is named – as well as to the professors who mentored him.

The museum is home to the center’s living collection of animals, reptiles, amphibians and other wildlife exhibits. It complements the university’s environmental education programs and is a place for the greater community to explore. The museum was completed as part of a renovation to the 1700s farmhouse which serves as the hub of the Environmental Center.

This museum is named in honor of Martin “Marty” H. McGuire, a 2006 alumnus of Pace University, who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Environmental Studies, and died tragically on August 5, 2007 in a car accident.

Ralph O’Dell, retired director of Natural Resource Protection with the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation for NY State, and a mentor to Marty, wanted to create his legacy at Pace. The project was also supported by Pace University benefactor Lucy Waletzky, M.D.

Waletzky, chair of the New York State Council of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, said she felt that the facilities ought to match the exceptional education provided by the center’s Director Angelo Spillo and Assistant Director James Eyring, and the rest of the Environmental Center faculty and staff.

In 2003 O’Dell and McGuire visited the Environmental Center and this clinched McGuire’s decision to transfer to Pace University and become an Environmental Studies major. McGuire pursued internships as part of his coursework through the Center and upon graduation he worked with O’Dell as an assistant in the Natural Resource Protection division of NY State Parks. McGuire was to update the book Birds of Deer Island, for which O’Dell holds the copyright, but his life was cut short before he was able to complete the project.

Marty McGuire   
  Marty McGuire ’06 Dyson graduate  

Waletzky called McGuire “a phenom of birding on par with John J. Audubon.”

McGuire’s father, also named Marty McGuire, was moved by the dedication.

“It was very impressive,” he said. “It brought back a lot of memories. It makes me very proud.”

McGuire said it was a fitting tribute to his son, who was a nature lover as far back as he can remember.  Growing up in Putnam County across the street from Fawnstock State Park, as a boy Marty was drawn to the outdoors. A 17-acre parcel of that park is today dedicated in McGuire’s name.

“He had a love of animals and birds and really, that’s a love of life,” said an emotional McGuire.

He said his son would have been humbled by the dedication and glad to leave a legacy of environmental education for future generations.

“He was influenced by his environment, and wanted to make sure it was preserved,” said McGuire.

“I think the museum is not only a great tribute to Marty, but a tribute to how Pace treats its students,” said O’Dell.

Waletzky’s hope is that McGuire’s spirit will inspire others to do the things he didn’t get a chance to do, and that her gift to the university might inspire others to consider memorial donations of any kind for those they’ve lost. View the photo gallery.