Jacob “Jake” Vogelman was a bright and eager student who seemed to have what it takes to succeed in the world of theater design.
He was smart. Funny. Resourceful – the kind of guy who could make a stressful turn of events into something positive.
“The one who had the extra supplies when they needed something,” recalled Lynne Koscielniak, one of his professors at the University at Buffalo’s department of theater and dance.
But above all, the Brooklyn resident and 2010 UB graduate, who died Monday in Superstorm Sandy, is being remembered for his kindness.
“He was known as a kind soul to everyone,” said Koscielniak. “That’s the No. 1 thing everyone has said this week.”
So while his death was met with sadness by his former professors and fellow students in the tight-knit theater design program, they weren’t altogether surprised to hear about the circumstances.
As the storm approached, Vogelman, 24, had gone to the Ditmas Park section of Brooklyn with his friend Jessie Streich-Kest, also 24, to help her check on her cancer-stricken father, according to an article in online magazine the Daily Beast.
Vogelman then accompanied his friend as she walked her dog. A tree fell on them, killing them both. They were found the following morning.
“I am heartbroken,” said Melinda Lamoreux, clinical assistant professor of stage management. “ ... He had such a good heart. He was always so positive.”
She said Vogelman had a unique combination of talent, tenacity and the ability to get along with people – and would have succeeded in doing whatever he put his mind to.
“His work was absolutely stellar,” she said.
Vogelman graduated cum laude, despite having dyslexia, according to the Daily Beast.
Lamoreux said she never even knew he had the learning disability. Koscielniak recalled some discussion about it but said Vogelman never let it get in his way.
Both Lamoreux and Koscielniak heaped praise on the set he designed for a production of “The Cherry Orchard.”
“He did a floor design that was just beautifully done – white, gray and black,” Lamoreux said. “It was in this beautiful geometric pattern ... He just did a beautiful job.”
Lamoreux had just talked to Vogelman a couple of weeks ago. “He caught me up on what he was doing,” she said. He told her he was in a graduate program at Brooklyn College. “He was really happy to be in the city,” she said.
No plans have been set for a memorial for him in Buffalo yet, but Lamoreux said she believes there will be one.
“His life deserves to be celebrated,” she said.