Alden Ruml ’13 knew he wasn’t the first member of his family to attend HWS, but it wasn’t until he was a student himself that he discovered the full connection between the Colleges and his family. As it turns out, he was the eighth family member (by birth and marriage) to attend HWS. The first member of his family to attend was his great-grandfather, Harold Welch, whose photo hangs on the second floor of the Admissions Office as a member of the Hobart Class of 1921. (pictured here.)
His mother, Doriane Ruml, didn’t know her grandfather had attended Hobart until she saw this photograph of him in the Admissions Office.
“I knew he was from Geneva and apparently the first to start the chain, as well as my investigation of the Welch connection to HWS,” she says, noting she spent time in the HWS Archives this past May, finding photos and documentation on most of her relatives.
“Discovering more about my family as the semesters passed added another, more personal dimension to my experience at the Colleges,” says Alden. “Having poured over the archives and finding photos of relatives across campus made those very places, when seen in the present, very special.”
Following in Harold Welch’s footsteps to HWS were his daughter Mary Elizabeth Welch Sturkie ’35, and her sister Joan Welch Snell ’47, who married Wade Snell Jr. ’47. Welch’s son Thomas P. Welch also attended Hobart for two years, prior to leaving for World War II.
Recently, Thomas Welch’s nephew (and Doriane’s cousin) Victor Failmezger wrote a book about their uncle “Tommy.” In addition to recanting stories of Tommy’s experiences in World War II, he notes he was a long-time Geneva resident, living his whole life on Castle Street until leaving for the war. The book also explains some of the Welch/HWS history.
Ruml’s maternal grandfather, Rodney Carter, attended Hobart with Thomas Welch as a member of the Class of 1942. He, too, left for the war.
A generation later, Alden’s maternal uncle married Norma Binder ’69, “And that further advanced our HWS connection,” explains Doriane. “Alden is named Alden Welch Ruml for that side of the family, so it seems right that he ended up at Hobart but most of the connection was unknown when Alden matriculated.”
Failmezger, a retired naval commander, will discuss the book featuring Thomas Welch, “An American Knight: A Tank Destroyer Story,” at the Geneva Historical Society on Friday, Sept. 6, from 7:30 to 8:45 p.m. The following day he will present a talk about military research at the same location, at 10:30 a.m.