Photo caption: Tom Mehrman and his great nephew Troy Straight, stand outside the Connector on the college’s Saranac Lake campus.
SARANAC LAKE — Keene native and former Liberal Arts student Tom Mehrman visited the Saranac Lake campus of North Country Community College for the first time in 20-plus years Friday and met with his great nephew Troy Straight, a current Liberal Arts student at the college who’s pursing a teaching degree.
Tom lives in Pensacola, Fla., these days and recently retired after 22 years in the state’s corrections department. He also had a long career in the U.S. Army, working as a radar technician and an electronic warfare interceptor technician for the Army Security Agency, for which he had a top secret clearance. Among other places, he was stationed in Korea and Germany, where he saw the Berlin Wall come down in 1989.
Tom wanted to pass along a message for current and future students. When he arrived at NCCC in the early 1970s, he had difficulty reading and suffered from dyslexia. He credited two teachers in particular, Pat Wiley and her husband Ken, for helping him learn how to read, overcome his disabilities and go on to a successful career. While he was in the Army, Tom graduated in the top 10 percent of his class at Non-Commissioned Officer training.
“Don’t let anyone or anyone discourage you, even if you have a handicap,” Tom said. “Work hard to overcome it, and don’t give up. If you want something in life, you can succeed.”