Roberto E. Wirth ’75

Our Cornell Hotel Society (CHS) global community mourns the shocking and untimely loss of another consummate Hotelie, an iconic leader and true hotelier, Roberto E. Wirth class of 1975. He was 72.

Roberto continued the legacy of his family’s Swiss hotelier roots in Rome, his favorite city in the world. As Owner and General Manager of the iconic Hotel Hassler, proudly seated at the top of the Spanish Steps, he welcomed royalty and heads of state, international celebrities and distinguished travelers during their stay in Rome. His authentic hospitality, genuine care and signature attention to detail made him the ultimate Roman hotelier that he’ll always be remembered for.

Besides the Hassler and Il Palazzetto, located adjacent the Spanish Steps, Roberto’s other “gems” are sprinkled across Italy’s verdant heart in Umbria and Tuscany – Hotel VannucciParco del Principe and Borgo Bastia Creti – enriching the countryside with his signature sparkle and keen sense of luxury.

Born profoundly deaf, Roberto dedicated much of his life giving back to help deaf and deafblind children. Through his foundation CABSS, he provided support to babies, small children, and their families in Italy and around the globe with tools to face a world not designed for them. As President of CABSS, he provided an inspiring example to these children that “Nothing is Impossible” – his personal motto – and that a deaf person can achieve such extraordinary things, like “guide the ship” among the world’s most fascinating hotels, communicate with guests in a variety of languages, and lead staff to set the standard for luxury hospitality.

Roberto was a proud and active member of the Cornell Hotel Society. Members recall with vivid memory the European chapter meeting he organized in Rome in 1982. In words by CHS historian Leif Evensen ’66 from the CHS bulletin at the time: “Roberto Wirth ’75 co-hosted our Rome meeting together with Villa Banfi. Our thanks to Roberto for an excellent meeting, well-organized from our red-carpet welcome to our departing “arrivederci.” He continues, “It was a super weekend and I’m sure that the Hotel Hassler was glad to have Roberto’s full attention after our departure.”

Roberto was also a key member in the creation of the CHS chapter in Italy, which ultimately became the AlpAdria & Eastern Europe Chapter during the famous meeting in Merano, Italy. Roberto remained honorary President of the chapter, kept abreast of its activities and participating when possible. He joined us in 2015 at a special dinner held at Palazzo Rospigliosi during an AA&EE Chapter Meeting in Rome, and more recently he was the gracious host of our Welcome Cocktail kicking off our recent CHS EMEA Regional Meeting in Rome this past April.

Over the years, Roberto has been recognized for his achievements and contributions to hospitality leadership and innovation and his philanthropic efforts toward organizations for the deaf.

In 2005, Roberto received the prestigious Independent Hotelier of the World award.

He has received honorary degrees from Lynn University, Boca Raton FL (2006), Gallaudet University, Washington DC (2009) and John Cabot University, Rome (2016).

He was also one of eight deaf recipients of the Deaf Nation Inspiration Award (for Hotel Hospitality) in 2012.

In 2014, he was awarded the Leading Legend award by Leading Hotels of the World.

In 2018, he received a special award from the United States Ambassador to Italy Lewis M. Eisenberg, on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Fulbright Program in Italy, the “Fulbright – Roberto Wirth” scholarship . Also in 2018 he received a special career award during the “Golden Lion for Peace” event, at the Sala Regina of the Chamber of Deputies.

In 2020 he received, from the Lions Club Padova “Galileo Galilei”, the highest lionistic honor “Melvin Jones” for his commendable commitment and dedication to the deaf community around the world.

His children, Robert Jr. and Veruschka, now take on the overwhelming task of continuing their father’s legacy at a time when the hotel landscape in Rome is in a state of flux. It will be a test of resilience and vision but I have no doubt that Roberto prepared his children well to be up for the challenge.

I feel so fortunate that our global CHS community was able to raise a glass together with Roberto this past April in Rome. Gathered in the shade of the Spanish Steps, he welcomed us to his home and shared with us his signature hospitality. Roberto will continue to inspire us through his legacy, reminding us that “Nothing is Impossible”.


Jonathon Dominic Spada B.S. ’10
CHS Regional Vice President – North Europe

 

In Memoriam

We have recently been informed of the following Hotelies that have passed.

Norman L. Rowe ’55                    June 14, 2021

Landon M Spilman ’54                June 8, 2021

Lucy H. Williams ‘77                    July 4, 2021

Alexandra Marie Woo ’95           March 30, 2021

Louis Passaro ‘61                          August 10, 2021

Bruce R. Panas ’70                       January 3, 2020

Mark E. Novisoff ’70                    November 17, 2019

Douglas P. Maslow                      October 9, 2021

Darryl Wilson                               October 13, 2021

Michael K. Proctor                      September 27, 2021

Herbert J. Bool                            October 15, 2021

John A. Norlander                      October 11, 2021

Frank M. James                           September 14, 2021

Richard (Dick) Nelson ’57         November 22, 2021

Gardner L. Lewis ’61                   October 7, 2021

Ernest C. Sofis ’51                        November 5, 2021

Marianne Eliane Madoff ’89     May 17, 2021

Douglas Edwin Stevens ’67        May 20, 2019

Edwin J. Saeger ’51                      November 27, 2021

Steven L. Moss ’73                       November 23, 2021

Geoffrey B. King ’80                    December 17, 2021

Robert D. Peterson ’52                January 16, 2022

William D. Brown ’57                  January 22, 2022

Richard J. Ferris  ’62                   January 16, 2022     

Ara S. Aftandilian ’83                  September 19, 2021

Jeffrey S. Zimmerman ’75          January 26, 2022

Eugene F. Foster ’51                    January 31, 2022 

Henry L Langknecht ’53             February 4, 2021

Gerald L. Dreher ’67                    December 1, 2021         

Phil Baugh ’96                               April 4, 2022

R. Dale Colle ’83                           February 27, 2022

Dominic Manente MPS ’76         February 14, 2022

Christian W. Ewton ’07                February 22, 2022

Boyd H. Graves ’57                        January 21, 2022

Karl A. Rueck ’62                           March 25, 2022

Gregory C. Crown ’71                    March 12, 2022

Elizabeth C. Booth ’50                  March 23, 2022

Joseph Edmund Mihm ’64          March 28, 2022

Herbert R. Behrens ’48                 August 14, 2019

William J. Sibal ’64                        January 6, 2022

Donald A. Ross ’54                         March 4, 2021

Billy Jerome Donovan ’15             April 24, 2022

George Sporn ’69                            April 18, 2022

Ernest J. Acquaro ’73                     May 6, 2022

Fred J. Eydt ’52                               May 18, 2022

John J. Donahoe ’54                      May 19, 2022

George A. Sporn ’69                       April 18, 2022

David Lee Brooke ’50                     May 7, 2022

Angad Singh Jaspal ’21                  May 21, 2022

 

Richard Nelson ‘57

Legendary Hotelie Richard (Dick) Copeland Nelson ’57 passed on November 22, 2021 after a long struggle with Parkinson’s Disease.

Dick had a long and impactful career in the hospitality industry.  After graduating Cornell Dick worked with Hilton where he spent 15 years in management positions around the country.  He departed Hilton as General Manager of the Statler Hilton (Capital Hilton) in Washington, DC.  He joined Hyatt in 1972 to become the first GM of the Hyatt Regency in downtown Houston.  He retired in 1996 as Vice President / Management Director of the Grand Hyatt Washington, a 900-room property he opened in 1987.

After leaving the industry, Dick returned to Ithaca to serve as Executive in Residence.  During the Spring of 1997, Dick counseled graduate students.

In 1997, Dick also began his term as Global President of the Cornell Hotel Society.  During his tenure as CHS President, Dick coordinated Hotel School 75th anniversary celebrations around the world.

Dick shared his knowledge and passion for the industry by serving Chairman of the Board of the American Hotel and Lodging Association in 1991.  He also held leadership positions within the DC Hotel & Motel Association, DC Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Greater Washington Society of Association Executives, and the American Hotel & Lodging Association Educational Institute.

Dick is survived by his wife, and omnipresent CHS event companion, Stella Guerra Nelson, two sisters-in-laws, and multiple nieces and nephews.

To honor Dick, CHS encourages donations be made to the Richard C. and Stella G. Nelson Scholarship which was established by Dick and Stella in 2010.  Income from this fund provides undergraduate scholarship support for Hispanic American students with an interest in hotel operations enrolled in the Hotel School.  Information on donating can be found on the following website:

https://sha.cornell.edu/alumni/giving/existing-funds/scholarships/

 

In Memoriam – Arne Sorenson (Hon)

The Cornell Hotel Society (CHS) mourns the loss of Arne Sorenson (Hon), the late President and Chief Executive Officer of Marriott International, Inc.  In 2018, Mr. Sorenson was elected to be an honorary lifetime member of CHS after receiving the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration 2018 Cornell Hospitality Icon of the Industry Award.

During his tenure Mr. Sorenson supported the continued recruitment, and development, of many Hotelies within the Marriott organization.  In January of 2017, Mr. Sorenson hosted members of the Hotel School faculty at Marriott headquarters and shared his thoughts on the hospitality industry.

 

Below, Mr. Sorenson receives his Honorary Lifetime CHS Membership from Dean Kate Walsh, Bill Minnock ’79, Cheryl Boyer ’87, and Dexter Wood ’87.

 

In Memoriam – Jay Treadwell ’61

The Cornell Hotel Society (CHS) grieves the loss of Jay Treadwell ’61.  Jay is survived by his wife Peggy, who accompanied Jay to many CHS events around the world.  In 2008, Jay served as the Global President of CHS.

In 2019, Jay shared his thoughts about being a Hotelie for Life®.

 

“When I graduated from the Hotel School in 1961, I figured I was ‘finished’ with going to school. I joined the Navy and was sent to the west coast to run an Officers Club. For a long time, I seemed to ‘absent’ the Hotel School and Cornell from my life.

I moved to Washington D.C. to take over the operation of the U.S. Senate foodservice operation in 1975. My involvement since then has been uninterrupted and fulfilling, to include my wife, Peggy, and I made a sizable endowment for Hotel School students to study abroad, as hospitality is a global industry. The students who vied for and won this opportunity are just spectacular. We have always been proud to make this possible for Hotelies.

My involvement since then has been uninterrupted and fulfilling, to include my wife, Peggy, and I made a sizable endowment for Hotel School students to study abroad, as hospitality is a global industry. The students who vied for and won this opportunity are just spectacular. We have always been proud to make this possible for Hotelies.

After a meaningful and rewarding career in foodservice executive leadership and later, consulting, I had to retire in 2016 when I contracted a rare form of brain cancer, but miraculously have kept the brain and liver tumors under control. I give faith and friends the credit for that, for which I thank both equally. Among those friends are my fellow Hotelies for LIFE.”

 

As noted above, Jay truly appreciated the global nature of the hospitality industry.  In 2018 Jay and Peggy established the Jay & Peggy Treadwell International Travel Award which provides SHA students with international travel and learning opportunities.

To honor Jay, please consider donating to the Jay & Peggy Treadwell International Travel Award: https://cornellhotelsociety.com/scholarships/

Below are several pictures of Jay and Peggy enjoying their time with Hotelies around the world.

      

Phil Miller Legacy Update: We need your Support!

We all have many challenges and priorities connected to the Pandemic. Nevertheless, sometimes I find my mind drifting to remembering Phil Miller and his untimely departure from our CHS family

This crisis will end at some point and so I still think long term and how to keep the legacy of Phil alive and to sustain our Hotelie culture. Click YOU NEED TO MEET PHIL MILLER as a reminder of how Phil inspired us all.

Background

There were two funding initiatives created in memory of Phil to further his tireless effort on behalf of the students. They are called The Phil Miller Hotelie for Life Prize and the Phil Miller Legacy. Both of these programs are already launched and supporting deserving students and future Hotelie Ambassadors.

The Phil Miller Hotelie for Life Prize

This special prize is awarded to graduating seniors in the SHA. This year, one senior recipient was selected to receive a $10,000 cash prize. Four Semi-finalists also received a monetary award of $1000 each. Moreover, all finalists are awarded a Life-Time Membership in the Cornell Hotel Society and are asked to serve as ambassadors for CHS as they pursue their respective careers.

Click HOTELIE FOR LIFE for background on awardee,  Chloe Jones and Phil’s Legacy initiatives.

 

The Philippus Miller III Legacy Endowment

This endowment is designed to recognize and celebrate Phil’s legacy as a builder of networks and relationships. The purpose is to provide one or more Hotel School students an opportunity to attend one of the several major CHS events held around the world. The grant is intended to offset the costs of travel, lodging and event registration so that recipients can fully engage with alumni and other attendees.

Covid-19 has forced suspension of CHS gatherings for the foreseeable future. However, our successful fundraising to date ensures that monies are available to support these students when in-person events resume.

This year’s recipients of the Legacy Award are:

Alice Navadeh, ‘21

Colette Repisky, ‘22 

 

Fundraising to Date

With University matching funds, our initial goal is to raise a total of $250,000 over 5 years for each initiative, so $500,000 overall. Success in this endeavor would endow both programs in perpetuity. We are off to a strong start, having raised over 60% of the necessary monies so far to support these initiatives, which qualify for the 1 for 3 S C Johnson matching funds.

 

We Still Need your Support!

If you have already contributed to one or both of these initiatives, we thank you!

Since this is a 5-year stretch of fundraising, we urge you to begin or continue your support with a contribution this year.

Click REMEMBER PHIL

Feel free to forward this to friends of Phil and the SHA. We Need to Meet or exceed our goal to support the next generation of Hotelies!

Cheers,

Joe Lavin ‘75

Phil Miller Legacy Committee

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The Cornell Hotel Society grieves the loss of Rudolf W. “Rudy” Muenster ’62. Rudy passed the morning of September 29, 2020 peacefully with his wife Annelie by his side in Berchtesgaden, Germany.

Rudy was an icon and inspiration for Hotelies worldwide and a mentor to many. He was a tireless ambassador for Cornell and The Hotel School (SHA) and truly epitomised the Hotelie for Life® spirit. Based in Berlin, he worked extremely hard to advance CHS in the EMEA region and was instrumental in the transformation of a single EMEA Chapter to nine Chapters, thus widening the visibility of the school across two continents. He is credited as being the orignal driving force behind the EMEA scholarship program, as well as the traditional scholarship auction held during the gala dinner at the annual EMEA meetings. He devoted a tremendous amount of time to soliciting donations from industry suppliers, hotel companies, and chapter members. Over the years his efforts helped fund more than 300 scholarship recipients. It is planned to honour Rudy at the next EMEA meeting in Rome and name the existing GMP scholarship after him.

In 1995, Rudy participated and supported the fledgling and first ever Asia-Pacific Regional Annual Conference in Hong Kong attended by 17 participants at the then Furama Hotel under Past Global President Michael W. N. Chiu ‘66. The forerunner Asian-based Annual Conference was adapted in format from Michael’s prior participation in the Annual EMEA meetings. In 1996, Rudy served as the first non-American Global President. His motto was “Act local, Think global”.

Professionally, Rudy began his international hotelier career at the then InterContinental Hotel Indonesia in Jakarta and later became the General Manager of the group’s hotel in Hannover, Germany. He then went to work for Kempinski Hotels where he became a management board member at the young age of 39. When he turned 46, he founded his own consulting firm, RWM Hotel Consult, during which time he traveled over 200 days a year as a worldwide consultant to the hospitality and travel industry serving such prestigious clients as the World Bank. In his time, Rudy was also a pioneer in sales and marketing where he left a particular mark in the German hotel industry. Perhaps most of all, Rudy was an excellent connector and networker. The annual receptions that he and his wife hosted at their home in Berlin during the IHIF conference and ITB fair was a sought after invitation by Cornellians and international industry leaders alike.

After Rudy’s most unfortunate and severe head and spine injury suffered from a fall at the Bahnhof (train station) rushing to a business meeting in Berlin, he entered a care facility not far from his house in Berchtesgaden after first being cared for at his home for two years. In addition to Annelie’s most devoted daily attendance and routine at the facility (including delivering him home cooked meals), their very dear friends and former colleague, Hans Turnovszky, PDP ’67 and his wife Silke, were without fail looking into both Rudy and Annelie very regularly. Rudy was never again able to use the computer or telephone which he was so good at, nor was Annelie able to connect.

For more information regarding Rudy’s contributions to CHS, The Hotel School, and the global hospitality industry, please use the following link to read an article from the Winter 2019 edition of Hotelie magazine: https://redirect3.dailypoint.de/…/597_CHS_Germany_hotelie_f…

Rudy, with his signature smile and legacy of service to the CHS community, will forever remain in our hearts and minds.