Fifty years ago, on Jan. 21, Hobart and William Smith Colleges defeated Baylor University 245 to 140 in the nationally-televised G.E. College Bowl. The HWS team had previously beaten Beloit College, Wesleyan University, Carnegie Mellon University and Louisiana State University-Baton Rouge in answering questions in a wide range of categories, including sports, art, logic, history, music, physics and math. Hobart and William Smith were one of only three teams, along with Colgate and Rutgers, to retire undefeated.
Hobart and William Smith’s team of Jerry Levy ’63, Marcia Berges Hodges ’61, James Zurer ’63, and Joseph Rishel ’62 earned their first 30 points of the game by correctly adding the number of French Republics to the number of German Reichs to equal eight.
In an article in the Pulteney St. Survey, Hodges recalls preparing for the quiz show, “The teachers made up ever so many questions. I remember a day of written responses to questions. Some clever persons built a buzzer-board like on the show, so we could play team against team. Faculty members watched the show, categorizing questions: literature, history, miscellaneous, music . . . so they knew what was needed for a balanced team.”
The team brought home the College Bowl trophy and $9,000 in scholarship funds from General Electric. When they returned to Geneva, they were honored with parade and Feb. 2 was declared to be “Hobart and William Smith Day.”
“The people of Geneva were so nice. They stopped us on the street and talked with us. We were invited to community lunches,” Levy is quoted in the magazine.
The victory in the College Bowl is attributed for raising both donor interest and prospective students’ attention. Among the donations received in the months following, the Colleges’ President Louis Hirshson received an anonymous contribution of nearly $1,200 cash for the scholarship fund.
The Pulteney St. Survey quotes Dr. Reynold Levy ’66, who now serves as president of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, as saying he chose Hobart because “The notion that Hobart and William Smith would honor intellectuals and take pride in a battle of the ‘eggheads’ intrigued me. Any school that excelled in lacrosse and in the College Bowl was worth a good look.”
Berges Hodges graduated from William Smith with a B.A. in English, summa cum laude, with Honors. She was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa and was active with the Canterbury Club and WEOS, in addition to her involvement with the College Bowl. Today, she is a storyteller in Oregon.
Jerry Levy earned his B.A. in political science from Hobart College, with Honors. While a student, he was active with WEOS, the debate team, Echo and Pine and chimera. He is now a lawyer specializing in health law in New York as a partner with Duane Morris LLP. He is a former chair of the New York State Bar Association’s Health Law Committee and a former chair of its Health Law Section.
Rishel graduated from Hobart with a B.A. in history, with Honors, and is now a curator of European art and sculpture at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. While at Hobart, he was a student adviser and a member of the Board of Control and was a member of the fencing club.
Zurer graduated with a B.A. in political science from Hobart. He was active in Orange Key and Chimera and contributed to the Herald and WEOS. He retired from the Department of Labor in Washington, D.C., and now plans itineraries for independent travelers to Italy.
Additionally, Wayne Atwell ’61 prepared with the team as an alternate, going through the rigorous sessions that would lead to the win. Atwell earned his B.A. in European History from Hobart. He was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa and was involved with fencing, the Little Theatre and the International Relations club. He retired from GTE, where he served as director of benefits planning.
An event to commemorate the anniversary of the win is being planned for Homecoming and Family Weekend 2011.