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Roads Taken & Not Taken - Alan B. Colsey '74

Editor's Note: This piece is part of our ongoing "Roads Taken & Not Taken" series. Haverford grads who want to share their own story of roads taken (or not taken) since graduation should drop us a line.

Looking back in the rearview mirror, the body of a life’s work shows much clearer direction than it likely could when looking out of the windshield. For the Class of 1974, the road most traveled seems to have been pre-med with a heavy volume of M.B.A.’s, J.D.’s and Ph.D.’s trailing behind. For me, I see hats....

At Haverford, two entrepreneurial friends and I ran a campus sandwich shop called Hoagies Carmichael. This was a bridge between the old Coop in the catacombs of Union Hall and a new facility in the basement of the Dining Center, a long time before Whitehead Center was imagined, much less built. Then, senior year, I was running The Coop at the new location, along with Chris Fleming and Rob Galford. This turned out to be a very significant responsibility, and taught me how much the food industry demands of time, energy and talent. This lesson left me with a lasting reluctance to do anything in food service on a full time professional level.

While still attending Haverford I entered the volunteer services of the Nyack F.D. and Nyack Community Ambulance Corps, as well as joining the local police department. Eventually, after a disappointing trip to law school, I earned two graduate degrees—an M.S. from Iona College (honors) and M.B.A. from St. Thomas Aquinas College (honors). Ultimately, I decided on a career in public safety and got involved with many assorted activities, cooking for fun and family, but nothing really “official” in food service.

Over the years I have been a volunteer ambulance and fire department member, police officer, Rotarian, U.S. Coast Guard Auxilarist, board member or officer of any number and variety of community or public service organizations. Most such affiliations have their own “brand” with the requisite hat and logo to go along with the rest of the gear. And so began my collection—hats, hats, hats—hats by the hundreds!

Having retired from my 24-year position as Police Chief, I relish my new path away from the 24/7 headaches of law enforcement. However, I have flunked retirement badly, as I am still a badgecarrying sworn Deputy Sheriff, teach graduate level Management and Marketing, have a consulting business in public safety technology and am partner in a line of BBQ sauces, rubs and related condiments.

When I left the police department everyone knew that I spent far more time engaged in the subtleties of smoked sausage links than on the links, and that my idea of greens had much more to do with the marriage of fresh herbs and spices in red wine vinaigrette than with hitting a little white ball around. A very kind, clever and generous group had a moment of divine inspiration when they decided to send the Chief to the CIA: The Culinary Institute of America, “The World’s Premier Culinary College.”

So here I am, this man of many hats. After many years of “chiefing” in the police department, I have changed my uniform hat of blue to a mortar board of black, and sometimes to a uniform of white coat, checkered pants and toque—the white chimney, smoke stack hat of a chef. My experience at Haverford has led to many hats, and roads less taken.

Alan B. Colsey ’74 lives and cooks in Valley Cottage, N.Y.

The Climbing Stone, by Peter Rockwell '58, is located outside Magill Library.

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