Marty Mullarkey: I grew up in the Bronx in an apartment house. I remember looking out the window across the street to a vacant lot where the only tree in the vicinity grew. Later, when I was 11 or 12, my friends and I found a lot further away with many trees on it, and we built a tree hut to hang out in. But mostly I was studying, working part-time jobs, and playing stickball in the streets. I do remember a day as a young man that was one of the happiest of my life, wandering through The New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. I couldn’t believe how beautiful that place was, and I think that day had a big influence on me.
For high school and college, I first went to a seminary to become a priest. After two years of failing Latin, my spiritual advisor said, “Maybe the Good Lord has something else in mind for you.” He was right; I had realized that I really wanted to have a family life like my parents. I switched to studying engineering at community college and then City College of New York, and met my wife Judy, who was gorgeous and also serious about her math studies. Judy graduated from Fordham University with majors in mathematics and education and received her masters in special education from Long Island University and had a great career teaching special education. She was extremely supportive of my work, travels, and late meetings on environmental committees. We are now retired except for volunteer work and have new careers as Nanny and Grandpa. We have been married 50 years.
For a time I worked as a technician for a defense contractor, and then I worked my way up to lead engineer at a nuclear power plant. I was sent out on debates to talk about nuclear power; at some point I realized that I agreed with my opponents that solar and other forms of green energy made more sense on Long Island.