52 Faces of Community: Bud Van Slyke
By Holly Desrosier
Posted Aug 29, 2019 at 11:48 AM
Financier Bud Van Slyke has been an invariable source of information and assistance throughout his professional and personal life. When he’s not tackling financial management plans for the Town of River Bend, he’s lending his support to local nonprofits in an effort to bring contentment to his community.
Before benefiting the New Bern area with his professional prowess, Bud was quite the businessman. Raised in a farm setting in New York, he spent each fall riding a threshing rig and had every expectation to continue farming as a career. However, his plans changed after graduating high school. He married his high school sweetheart, joined the Air Force and took off on a years-long adventure of travel and finding his role as a people person.
“All I’ve ever done really is people back and forth,” said Bud. “Even though my major in undergraduate school was in financial management, my master’s was out of a different area completely, having to do with individual development and educational theory. With the combination of these, I went on to do things and brought them both together.”
Bud’s fiscal finesse and proclivity for people landed him some prestigious gigs in the financial district. In the ’60s, he worked at the Rochester Institute of Technology as the director of placement services. While there, he established central placement services for students and alumni and coordinated with representatives from the business and engineering programs to accommodate for employer recruitment.
After about four years, Bud moved to the Boston area to take over as director of professional development for Deloitte Haskins & Sells, one of the “Big Four” accounting organizations and the largest professional services network in the world. He was there just over three years when he was asked to go back to the executive office in New York City and take over as director of human resources and lead all non-audited areas, such as recruitment, college relations, compensation, professional and curriculum development.
Somewhere in between, he was asked to teach financial management and planning in the graduate school at New York University. He enjoyed being an associate professor for a couple of years until he realized the tight schedule just wasn’t working.
“During lunch hours, I would leave the office and go over and teach a class, come back and work for the afternoon,” he recalled with a chuckle. “There’s only so much time in a day, but it was fun.”
He worked at Deloitte an additional 18 years in an office on the 100th floor in Tower One of the World Trade Center. When he retired from the firm in 1991, he and his wife purchased a home in Greenbrier in New Bern and were all set to move when he got a call from a partner from another firm asking to help them solve a problem. Not one to deny his assistance, Bud agreed and went to work for accounting powerhouse BDO Seidman as director of human resources and administration for nearly seven years.
He finally moved to River Bend in 1997. Clearly not someone to sit on his hands, he became involved in the River Bend community and quickly became known as a reliable citizen and confidante.
“I’ve been here in River Bend working, helping and assisting the people with their needs for many years now,” he said. “I find it a delightful experience on an everyday basis, without question. It’s been an opportunity to make new friends and help in some instances where there are some needs, particularly in our recent times.”
He initially joined the planning board, first as a member and then as chairman. Next, he became a member of the audit committee and became an appointee on the Town Council in June 2005. He was elected to the council that fall and has been re-elected since then. He is now serving his final term through 2021. In addition, he is a finance officer and mayor pro tempore.
Due in part to Bud’s meticulous work, River Bend has been nationally recognized for several years for upholding a level of excellence in their budget preparation and financial status. The town was also able to respond immediately with funds for cleanup efforts after Hurricane Florence, and Bud even lent his RV indefinitely to someone who lost his home. The current project is constructing a new police building, as well as development of a restroom in Town Hall.
“It is a very pleasant town here and continues to look to see what the future holds,” said Bud. “It plans on an ongoing basis, hopefully matching what it believes the needs of the people are with what it thinks it can provide in the way of those facilities and forms of assistance. I don’t see that philosophy or mission changing as the town moves forward.”
Bud has also been highly active in the New Bern community. He volunteered with the MumFest for 14 years, becoming known as the mastermind behind the boat show. He spent countless hours preparing arrangements for vendor locations at Union Point Park, setting up bleachers, coordinating volunteers, troubleshooting and meeting with the City of New Bern, Swiss Bear, police department and other local organizations to ensure everything ran smoothly. Although the event takes place each October, Bud said it was common to start the planning process in the spring.
“It took a lot of time, but over the years was very productive and still is for the city,” said Bud.
He was also involved with the U.S. Power Squadron for 23 years. The nonprofit organization is dedicated to making boating safer and more enjoyable through education and improved safety efforts. “I had been commander of a post up North, and then down here twice I was commander of Cape Lookout. Then I moved to the district level as a lieutenant commander, then went to the national level as a staff commander,” he said.
Bud has been highly involved with the American Legion Post 539 as a charter member since 2010 and has enjoyed the many opportunities to assist fellow veterans. Recently, as co-chair of the American Legion 100th Anniversary celebration, his focus has been on working with local and statewide entities to update the World War I monument located in front of the Craven County Courthouse.
“The veterans that have served and gave all, as well as the veterans that continue to serve and are giving their best at this point, all deserve our thanks for making these times as they are, though some of them are not as comfortable as we’d like them to be,” he said. “The fact of the matter is we’ve got people out there who care, and I hope that does not change as we move forward.”
As their biggest project yet, Bud and his post have been involved with extensive research to find names of service members whose names were excluded from the monument. After much effort, those names were located and engraved on the monument. It has also been cleansed and freshened up in preparation of the celebration, which the public is encouraged to attend on Sept. 16 at 4 p.m.
During his time with the American Legion, Bud moved up as first vice commander and was asked to be commander, but he did not commit because of his responsibilities with River Bend. He believes it’s his duty to be there for his community no matter what.
“I enjoy being involved with people and doing what I can to support the citizens,” said Bud. “It’s very rewarding to do that, which is one of the big satisfactions that I have in River Bend. This is a fantastic town of people who care, and volunteers out here are just fantastic.”
Do you know somebody who should be featured in 52 Faces of Community? Visit https://www.newbernsj.com/52faces and click on the “Submit a Face” button.