Brad Prozeller ’71, age 68, died at home, peacefully, with his loving wife at his side on October 26, 2021. Brad was born and raised in Fairport, N.Y., the second youngest of six children. Following the path of his siblings, his parents placed him in kindergarten at The Harley School, taking advantage of the Headmaster’s “volume discount.” Benefitting from Harley’s rigorous academic curriculum, upon graduation Brad matriculated at New College and later transferred to Haverford College for a Bachelor’s Degree, followed by obtaining a degree in law at NYU Law School where he had the high honor of being on the Law Review.
Brad’s legal career began in NYC at a large Wall Street firm, then at a boutique Rockefeller Center law firm, representing international banks in commercial transactions. His nine years in Manhattan were one of the great experiences of his life, but daunted by the prospect of utilizing his talents on behalf of large money interests, at age 34, he packed up and moved to Geneva, N.Y. where the people and environment more closely aligned with his values and sensibilities. There he set up what became a very successful small town legal practice representing a wide range of local businesses and individual clients. Brad was always generous with his time and knowledge. One could get legal advice, often for free, or his firm opinion on the latest political news, which was always rooted in non-debatable evidence and facts.
Geneva also had another benefit for a bachelor: he met and married Alaine Espenscheid, a lovely, gracious, talented, smart lawyer. Together, they loved the life they created in Geneva with its multitude of diversities, a pedestrian life style, and daily interactions with local folks. There, Brad became active in community organizations. He served terms as President of the Smith Opera House, Vice Chair of the Geneva Human Rights Commission, Chair of the Geneva City Zoning Board of Appeals, and a Docent at the Seward House Museum in nearby Auburn. He was also a strong supporter of the Boys and Girls Club and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship Fund, both in Geneva.
Brad was a “Man For All Seasons.” He was an avid outdoorsman. He spent many summers of his youth at a summer camp in the ADKs as a camper, counselor, and trip leader. In time, he earned the ADK 46er badge for climbing all 46 high peaks; and, in his 20’s, he fell in with a group of adventurers who shared Brad’s passion for canoeing and spent part of their summers canoeing through remote regions of Canada. Transporting themselves and their canoes by mining trains to north Quebec, or flying into Northern Labrador or the James Bay region by sea plane with their canoes strapped to the pontoons, they would spend three weeks canoeing down wilderness white water rivers. He participated in the ADK Classic 90miler canoe races, Wild Water Derby races, and other similar adventures. While not the strongest or most technically skilled paddler, Brad had a knack for reading the rapids, seeing the dangers, understanding what the current was going to do to the canoe and how to use that to his advantage, discerning the safest or most exciting route through the rush of it all. He was eager to share this experience with others. Amazingly, for several successive years, he entered the Wild Water Derby on Canandaigua Outlet with Phil Hartman, a lifelong friend who was wheelchair bound and paralyzed from the waist down; and one year, the two actually won! Phil also earned a pilot’s license, and he and Brad bought a plane for their recreational enjoyment.
Brad and Alaine’s love of the ADKs led to the joint purchase of a lakeside, rundown Adirondack Camp built in the 1900s. The ownership was shared with two Harley alumni, Jim and Peter Davidson, and their wives. They spent thirty years restoring it and thoroughly enjoyed entertaining their extended families on the premises. Brad’s 10 nieces and nephews were frequent guests. They cherished the fact that Brad took the time to bridge the generation gap and establish a meaningful and purposeful relationship with them. He was fueled by an innate desire to understand others’ experiences and perspectives and had a beautiful ability to appreciate and truly know people, even when there were differences in background and lifestyle. He hosted many conversations on topics across the human and political spectrum. He was a forever learner, willing to put in the effort to broaden his understanding of the past, present, and future so he could deepen his lifelong yearning to connect with others. The thoughtfulness he put into a relationship was a true gift.
For those who knew Brad at Harley, as summarized by the Headmaster at the time, Stephen Hinrichs, they recognized and appreciated that Brad “is, in fact, an idealist with a strong social conscience and—in a gentle way—a political activist…He can be a forceful and persuasive speaker in a one-to-one situation or where the group is small and familiar…He is sincerely concerned about economic and social inequities,” and he earnestly engaged with local political and social organizations that leveraged his interests. These included the New Democratic Coalition, Metro Act, and the Council on Human Relations. At Harley, he was the chief organizer of the school’s program on Earth Day, a member of the Social Action Committee that supported community assistance projects, and a Big Brother to a young black student in Rochester.
Throughout, Brad lived his life with integrity and an unerring moral compass that guided his path as true as the strokes that he applied paddling his canoe in the wilderness. He took the time to identify and engage in what mattered most to him personally.
Memorial gifts in Brad’s memory to the Boys and Girls Club and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship Fund in Geneva would be treasured. The Scholarship Fund was established in 1981 to honor the memory and ideals of Dr. King and help Geneva students who exhibit strong character as well as financial need to realize their dreams of higher education. The address for the Boys and Girls Club of Geneva is 160 Carter Road, Geneva NY 14456; the address for the MLK, Jr. Scholarship Fund is Martin Luther King, Jr. Committee, c/o Rev. Donald Goldman, 3041 South Pre-Emption Street, Geneva NY 14456.