Popular professor's death leaves hole at SUNY Broome

By Matt Porter

February 10, 2014 Updated Feb 12, 2014 at 10:58 AM EDT

Town of Dickinson, NY (WBNG Binghamton) It was unusually quiet for students and faculty at SUNY Broome, and many say it's because of the loss of a popular professor, Wes Warren.

Wes Warren's close friend and SUNY Broome professor Rey Wojdat said Warren had an open door policy for any student.

"He was loved in the classroom, students really loved him. He was easy to talk with and to get information from," Wojdat said. "There was no wall or barrier with Wes Warren."

He said the former chairman of the criminal justice and homeland security program never let anything stop him.

"He was the most tenacious, stubborn man I ever met in my life, and I loved him a great deal," Wojdat said.

Warren began working at SUNY Broome as an adjunct professor in 2006 before becoming a full-time faculty member in 2008.

Former student Rae Palmer-Jones said she feels a difference without the big man on campus.

"It's so much quieter. You would see him outside and passing out in the main sidewalk and he'd say, 'Hey Rae Rae!'" said Palmer-Jones. "He'd just scream down, you could hear him from here to the student center."

She said Warren was knee deep in service projects for students and himself.

"He spent his Thanksgivings donating meals to those in need who couldn't get out," Warren said.

Student Aaron Torres said his professor's door was always open.

"Wes cared a lot," Torres said. "He really cared a lot. He stayed in touch with students that graduated here a while ago."

Torres said Wes had a personality like few other faculty members, and he knew how to have fun.

"He's like that crazy uncle that you just can't wait to see," Torres said.

Getting into a crazy situation wasn't strange for Warren, especially if it was for a good cause.

Faculty member Doug Gardnar remembers helping organize the first "sleep out" for the homeless with Warren almost five years ago.

"Wes would bring a tarp and he would sit on this bench and eventually stretch out. That's where he would sleep or attempt to sleep," Gardnar said. "I will always remember him bringing his tarp and trying to catch a few winks on that bench."

Gardnar said the fifth annual sleep out won't be the same without Wes, but he will be there in spirit.

"I think our hope is to put a little plaque on that bench to remember not just Wes, but that sense of service to the community," Gardnar said.

Wes served as a police officer for Vestal and Elmira, a correction officer for Tioga County and in the Chemung public defender's office before coming to SUNY Broome.

Wes Warren died Saturday night of an apparent heart attack. Warren was 49 years old.

Funeral arrangements are still being made by the Warren family.