Cetacean Society International

Whales Alive! - Vol. IX No. 1 - January 2000

A Tribute to CSI President William W. Rossiter

By Robbins Barstow, CSI Director Emeritus

Photo of Bill Rossiter

The name, and the breadth and depth of knowlege, of William W. Rossiter, the extremely active president of the Cetacean Society International, are well known to readers of this publication. Each issue of Whales Alive! contains an incredible amount of information and analysis provided by the hand and mind of this unbelievably resourceful leader. Some of our newer members, however, may not be aware of the extent and length of Bill's service to the cause of cetacean conservation. I wish to take this opportunity, therefore, to pay tribute to this singular man and his continuing commitment and contributions to the global movement to preserve and protect all whales, dolphins, and porpoises.

Bill Rossiter and his vivacious wife Mia first joined the ranks of what was then the Connecticut Cetacean Society some 20 years ago, in 1980, when they became "alternate" members of the Board of Directors. The Society had been founded in 1974. Its first president, Donald Sineti, remained in that position for 18 years, and throughout that time, I served as volunteer executive director, both of us finally retiring from those roles in 1992.

In 1984, Bill Rossiter, who at that time lived in Ridgefield, Connecticut, was elected vice-president, and continued to fulfill that responsibility until 1994, when he was first elected president of what had by then become the Cetacean Society International, succeeding Leslie Shields, who served two years as president from 1992 to 1994.

The year 2000 marks Bill's 16th year of active leadership as vice-president (10 years) or president (6 years) of CSI, and both the Society and the cetaceans it is our purpose to help save are deeply indebted to him. He has always shunned the spotlight, but inasmuch as he has now, as of December 1999, formally retired from his long-time professional career as an airline pilot, I feel that this is an appropriate time for friends and associates to acknowledge and give honor to his wide-ranging efforts.

Bill Rossiter's contacts and support for beginning researchers in the field of cetology have made CSI a byword for breakthrough learning and development in waters around the globe. His passionate opposition to cetacean captivity has raised people's consciousness and consciences on a hitherto unmatched scale. His incredibly in-depth analyses and marshalling of data, and his constant, insistent communication with the powers that be, have kept in check and slowed the deployment of monstrous sound-producing ocean devices having inestimably devastating effects on life in the sea. His networking with other individuals and groups, and the unimaginable volume of his e-mail correspondence, generate action and responses in a host of areas where massive concentration of effort does indeed bring about change.

We salute and thank you, Bill, for your immeasurable contributions to increasing the world's awareness and caring for all cetaceans, and for your dynamic, energetic, innovative, and resourceful leadership which has so greatly enhanced the stature and influence of the CSI around the globe. May it continue to make a vital and significant difference well into the new millenium.

Pamela Finkle, Seymour Teacher of the Year

Congratulations to CSI Board member Pamela Finkle, who was recently named Teacher of the Year of Seymour, Connecticut, and was a semifinalist for the State of Connecticut Teacher of the Year award. Pamela is a language arts and history teacher at Seymour Middle School and has been teaching for 29 years.

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