Deceased October 22, 2016

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In Memory

With great sorrow we report the sudden passing of our classmate, teammate, fraternity brother and friend, Alexander Marshall Pregnall (“Sam”), on Oct. 22, 2016. Although Sam succumbed in seven short weeks to a devastatingly aggressive cancer, those weeks were filled with the love and support of his family and the many friends whose lives he touched. To witness the incredible courage, strength and grace with which Sam and Maribel, his loving wife of 29 years, met the challenges of Sam’s final weeks, please visit

At Amherst, Sam was a biology major and completed his senior thesis on an oil spill in the Arcadia Wildlife Refuge with Prof. Marge Holland. He was a talented diver on the swim team (who could forget his show stopping full twisting 1 1/2), and a member of the Psi Upsilon fraternity. His musical tastes were many, but he had a special fondness for David Bromberg and Tom Waits.

Sam’s interest in environmental and ecological biology continued throughout his life. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Oregon in 1984, and did postdoctoral work at the University of Chicago and UMass. In 1986 he joined the faculty at Vassar College where he became a much respected and beloved professor of biology, teaching courses ranging from the biology of salmon to plant physiology and aquatic ecology. His research addressed the physiological ecology of seagrasses and coastal algae, and he was recently working to conserve a population of threatened Blanding’s turtles near his home. Sam also served on the Institutional Review Board at Vassar Brothers Hospital and was a long-time member of the New England Estuarine Research Society.

Sam was an avid diver (both in Pratt pool and in more natural bodies of water), hiker and explorer. Sam was a certified scuba instructor, and he and his family completed dives from coast-to-coast in the U.S. as well as exotic locales such as Bonaire, Belize and the Cayman Islands. From the depths to the heights, Sam also led his family on many hikes including all 46 high peaks of the Adirondacks. Sam also led several Vassar alumnae trips to locations as varied as Polynesia, Iceland, Patagonia and Easter Island.

We remember Sam with his gentle, broad somehow knowing smile, often demonstrating his rarer skills such as tightrope walking along the bleacher railings at Pratt pool and hanging upside down from his toes from ceiling pipes at the Psi U basement bar. Sam was a very important part of a very important time in our lives, and we will miss him greatly.

Sam is survived by his wife Maribel, son Drake, daughter Hali, parents Bill and Joye, brother Stuart, sister Gabrielle, and many more members of his extended family.

Chris de la Rama ’78 and Mark Parisi ’78