A Village is Born

Twenty-three years ago, searching for a place to build Pathfinder Village, Marian Mullet found 170 acres of farmland in Edmeston. But the landowner, a neighbor of Mullet's, didn't want to sell. That all changed one night when the neighbor called on Mullet, who bred and showed Irish setters, to examine her pregnant canine-in-distress. Mullet saved the day and the dogs, and the grateful neighbor eventually decided to sell.

This was in the mid-1970s, when Mullet was the newly appointed executive director of the former Otsego School. She and her board had but a few months to develop a written plan to comply with a sea of complicated, cutting-edge regulations developed by the state of New York in the wake of the "Willowbrook Decree" -- a revolution in the residential care and treatment of the mentally disabled.

Mullet and the board had to come up with an entirely novel plan or close Otsego's doors. "We didn't sleep during those months," Mullet says. But 218 pages later, the plan for Pathfinder Village was written. Carved from the cornfields, it began a two-decade, $20-million-growth spiral.

-- Phyllis Graber Jensen

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