The Passing of Theodore Arrington
I am writing with sadness to share the very difficult news about the passing of Theodore “Tree” Arrington, founder and executive director of R.E.A.L. (Relationship Empowerment Affirmation Leadership) Skills Network, a place where children in Poughkeepsie could find help with their schoolwork and an outlet for their creativity.
For more than a decade, Vassar students, faculty and staff worked closely with Tree and his staff to improve and enrich the lives of thousands of children. Vassar students served as teachers, camp counselors, mentors and grant writers for R.E.A.L. Skills both during the school year and every summer.
Arrington often credited Vassar with helping R.E.A.L. Skills fulfill its mission. “This place was created in large part by Vassar, so feedback from Vassar is always essential,” he remarked recently. “I want to provide something I saw was missing in schools. Schools are caught up in having kids pass a test; I want them to pass life.”
In a statement following Arrington’s death, Poughkeepsie Mayor Robert Rolison praised him for doing “such exemplary work through REAL Skills and many other endeavors. Tree was larger than life; his heart was as big as he was. You simply can’t replace people like Tree. (He) understood that some youth need extra care to navigate through the various societal systems, to develop better skills and social values. Tree had a way of connecting with youth, and he led by example. He will be deeply missed.”
I echo Mayor Rolison’s sentiments and on behalf of the College, extend our deepest condolences to Tree’s family, friends and all of those in the community whose lives he touched through his selfless work.
Elizabeth H. Bradley, President
Poughkeepsie, NY 12604