May 01, 2018

In Remembrance: College Trustee Gene Zeltmann’62

Eugene “Gene” Zeltmann’62 served on the Beloit College board of trustees from the time he joined the board in 2006 until his death on Feb. 24, 2018, in Clifton Park, N.Y., at 77.
  • Greg Anderson
    Greg Anderson

“He was principled, smart, loyal, balanced, loving, generous, and completely authentic,” President Scott Bierman wrote when he announced Zeltmann’s death to the campus community. “He exuded integrity and he demanded it of all of us.”

After starting his career with General Electric as a nuclear chemist, Zeltmann held a number of senior management posts with the company that focused on international trade, government relations, and environmental issues surrounding power generation.

He transitioned to the power industry’s public sector when Governor George Pataki appointed him to lead the New York Public Service Commission. From 1997 to 2006, he was president and chief operating officer of the New York Power Authority, the largest state-owned utility company in the United States. While there, he led advances toward energy efficiency, cleaner technology, and electric and hybrid transportation.

As a student, he graduated with honors in chemistry and minored in political science. When he expressed an interest in exploring possible connections between science and politics, Political Science Professor Warner Mills set him up with a summer congressional internship in Washington, knowing that Zeltmann already had a fall semester planned at Argonne National Lab. The two internships, taken together, amounted to a pivotal experience that Zeltmann vividly recalled 50 years after he graduated. A recipient of a full scholarship himself, he and his wife later established an endowed scholarship at Beloit.

Zeltmann was a member of the SAE fraternity, played basketball and swam for Beloit, and was one of two graduates chosen to give the student address at Commencement. He completed his master of arts degree and his Ph.D. in physical chemistry at Johns Hopkins University. In 1993, he received a Distinguished Service Citation, the highest honor given by the Beloit College Alumni Association.
Throughout his life, he enjoyed spending time with family and friends, especially in one of his favorite places—Lake Placid, N.Y. Zeltmann was an avid hiker and summited 23 of the Adirondacks’ 46 high peaks.
Survivors include his wife, Susan, a son and a daughter, a sister, and three grandchildren.


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