John L. Palencsar

August 14, 1949January 25, 2021
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John Palencsar passed away unexpectedly at home on Monday, January 25. He was 71 years old. He is survived by his wife Deborah, daughter Lauren Dillon (Michael), son Stephen and grandchildren Evelyn Dillon, Grayson Dillon and Casey Palencsar. He was predeceased by his parents Nancy and John Palencsar.

John was born on August 14, 1949 in the Bronx. He attended High School at Mount Saint Michael Academy and college at the University of Dayton and Iona College. John married Deborah Jones in 1970. John and Deborah left the Bronx and settled in Croton on Hudson, New York where they raised their two children. John loved Croton but he always held the Bronx close to his heart. His closests friends were Bronx born and like John many of them put down roots in Croton.

John began his career as an English teacher at Cardinal Spellman High School in the Bronx. He went on to pursue a career in Financial Planning. First, working at Metropolitan Life where he was frequently recognized for his abilities and accomplishments. John later worked for Guardian Insurance and opened his own Croton based office, Innovative Planning. John enjoyed a close personal relationship with his clients and counted many of them as friends.

John loved nothing more than his family and played an active role in the lives of his children. He was a regular at school functions, athletic events and everything else his children pursued. He enjoyed coaching and held the role of the Croton Little League President for several years.

As John’s children grew older, he returned to his love of teaching, earning his Master's and Doctorate in History. He was an Adjunct History Professor at Western Connecticut University, the University at Albany, and most recently SUNY New Paltz. John was described as a “rockstar” professor who was admired and respected by students and colleagues alike. John’s passion for History was matched only by his passion for life and love of his grandchildren. "Pop" was adored by them and as he was for his own children, a constant presence in their life.

John will be remembered as a loyal friend, devoted husband, loving father and grandfather. In lieu of flowers, Memorial Contributions in John's name should be made to: St Judes Children's Research Hospital.


  • Visitation Please Adhere to NYS DOH Social Distancing Guidelines

    Thursday, January 28, 2021

  • Funeral Service

    Thursday, January 28, 2021


John L. Palencsar

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Katie Kranz

February 9, 2021

I was devastated to hear about the loss of Professor P, and I still am. P was an amazing man. He told us stories in class about his many experiences and his loss is felt by so many that he taught. Even now, as a teacher myself, I still feel his influence. He showed compassion daily and proved himself to be both interested and invested in the futures of his students. His knowledge seemed infinite and I still struggle to grasp the idea that it is gone.

He regularly spoke about his family, especially his grandkids. He loved spending time with them and watching them grow. He never hesitated to laugh at himself and invited us to join him in his humor.

My education at SUNY New Paltz was defined by his classes. They were the bright points of the week and kept me going when life was difficult. I did everything I could to ensure that I could take as many of P's classes as possible and I'm happy that I was able to visit him a couple of times after I graduated. He always joked that he would like a statue of himself with coffee and a cigarette in the field next to the education buildings. I'd love to see it happen.
You are so missed P. Rest easy.

"So it's true, when all is said and done, grief is the price we pay for love." E.A. Bucchianeri

Jamie Jones-Nolan

February 8, 2021

Dear Aunt Deb, Lauren, and Stephen,
I have loved reading the stories posted on here about Uncle John. It is evident that he touched so many young lives. I didn't know Uncle John that well, and it is clear that I lost out. What I did know of him, I liked. I talked with him after his cancer diagnosis and he was so positive and made fun of himself about how easy it was for him to quit smoking. I loved how he spoke of Grandma at her wake. We had fun at the Bronx Zoo in late 2019; Pat enjoyed talking with John about sports and teaching. I pray that the many posts about Uncle John here provide you comfort now and in the future.
Sending you all love.

Ann Larkin

February 2, 2021

So very sorry to hear the passing of John. He was a very caring person who really enjoyed all his years volunteering with Croton Little League. Always had a smile on his face....

Ann Larkin and family

Kristine Harris

February 1, 2021

I am so sad to hear hear of John's passing -- he was such a warm and lively colleague, and all of us in the History Department will dearly miss him.

Talking with John was always a bright spot in the day. He would come up to the department office after a class, always with a huge smile on his face, and chat about topics that had come up in class, or some current issue of the moment, or some funny thing that had happened that week.

John truly loved teaching as a vocation and was devoted to his students. In turn, he was adored by them. I recall many an advising session in which history majors and minors would plan their schedules for the coming semester to maximize the number of courses they could take with Professor Palencsar. Among the many things students loved about John were his boundless energy, his wit and vivid examples -- and of course, the intriguing historical artifacts he would bring to class.

It seems like just yesterday -- actually, the first week of spring semester, 2020 -- that John stopped by the department office just as I was reading some wonderful remarks about him by students in my classes, who had written self-introductions telling me a bit about their interests, goals, and favorite college courses: "My favorite class was US History since 1865 with John Palencsar. I loved it for the lens he had to analyze all facts of history" .... "Favorite course: History of American Sports. I absolutely loved Palencsar" .... "My favorite college course has been US History to 1865 because the professor implemented vital life lessons as he taught." I was so happy to tell John that so many students had spoken so highly of his teaching, and I could see how deeply he cared for his students.

With thanks to John, and deepest condolences to the Palencsar family and all the students who looked up to him as a teacher and mentor--

Carlos Maysonet

February 1, 2021

This hurts me a lot...probably one of the most devastating blows for me this year...John Palencsar was my favorite teacher in the world...taught me one of the most important lessons in to have EMPATHY for others...this man always cared about his students and had such an immense love for others...Ah Bartleby, Ah Humanity!!!! RIP TO ONE OF THE GREATEST!!! I wish you could have met my daughter P...we were supposed to meet up and have that cup of coffee...UNTIL THEN MY FRIEND!!

Angela Hill

January 30, 2021

P was one of the best professors I have ever had in college. He was well known around New Paltz and I took his class because I heard how amazing he was from other students. I was so lucky to have him last year. He was so inspiring and made me love history even more than I already did. I will remember his passion for teaching forever.

Matt Todd

January 29, 2021

My condolences to John's family. I remember him fondly and have great memories of him as a kid growing up in Croton. He was our little league coach every year and my friends and I have great memories of him being an awesome coach and making it fun to play and compete. He taught us well and I always looked forward to our practices and games. He was always upbeat and positive and was really fun to be around. I'll always remember my little league days and him being an amazing coach and adult to look up to as a kid. And seeing him over the years as we grew up into young men and adults, he always had the same demeanor of warmth and friendliness, and pride in watching us all growing up. RIP Mr. Palencsar. You were a great man.

Jessica Graepel

January 28, 2021

My thoughts and prayers go out to Professor P’s family. He was a great man who loved teaching and being a role model.

My favorite memory was him pulling me aside in the hallway my freshman year of college and asking me if I was okay. He cared so much about his students. When he was talking with me after I was having trouble at school, he told me, “With rain comes rainbows”. This has stuck with me during all of my years at New Paltz.

The best professor that I could have asked for. New Paltz is a better place because of him.

Patrice Scully-Murray

January 28, 2021

For over 30 years you have made me laugh, listened, counseled and cared. I am forever grateful for the friendship that you and Deb shared with me through moments of joy and sadness.
I am so glad that you both enjoyed some time with us in Bethany Beach and were able to understand why we loved it! Without your guidance, Tom and I couldn’t have made it happen. I will always be grateful for your patience.
Your absence will leave a hole in the lives of many on Earth. Heaven just gained a gift. Until we meet again, my friend! “Are you listening to me?”

Walt Schmidt

January 28, 2021

John - it won't be the same watching our son's coach Lacrosse or watching the grandkids playing Little League. Always happy and laughing.
My favorite line was ...Walt don't introduce me to anyone new - I already know too many people. God Bless.